March Slice of Life No. 8.
What’s a golden shovel?
It’s a poem. Last month during Laura Shovan’s poetry challenge, I read a number of shovel poems. I did some searching and learned that the “Golden Shovel” is actually a poem written by Terrance Hayes and that the form is his creation. I found the whole idea intriguing, so I made note of it, to try on some future day.
Today I stopped by Nix the Comfort Zone where Slice No. 7 is all about golden shovel poems. That future day became today. I decided to write a shovel poem.
Writing the golden shovel poem
I know that Terrance Hayes used a line from a poem, that a golden shovel is a poem that evolves out of words from another poem. However, I decided to bend that slightly today. I decided I would use a quote.
[So maybe I didn’t really write a shovel poem. Or maybe it is a shovel poem, it’s just not a “golden” shovel poem.]
Anyway, after I decided I’d use a quote, I couldn’t think one. At least not a short quote. It needed to be short since I must write a line for every word in the quote and I’d never done this before.
I searched “short quotes.” One of the first quotes I read was from Winston Churchill. That was timely considering that I’ve watched “Darkest Hour” three times in the last two weeks, A Churchill quote would be perfect.
On a piece of notebook paper, on every other line along the right edge, I wrote Winston Churchill’s words:
Then I just sat there — looking at the words, reading them over a couple times, trying to visualize what words might come before them. As I read the words, my father’s words came to me. In memory’s ear, I heard him say as he had said so many times in my childhood:
You can BE anything
you want to be.
You can DO anything
you want to do.
You just have to be willing
to WORK hard.
With pencil and paper, I started writing.
My daddy taught me: Never,
never think you can’t. Never
listen to doubt. Never
stop believing. Give
all and nothing can hold you up.
© 2018 Alice Nine
* * * *
Here are the official rules for writing a golden shovel poem:
- Take a line (or lines) from a poem
- Use each word at the end of the lines in your poem
Note: If you use a six word line, your poem will have six lines
- Keep the end words in order
- Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line you used
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That’s a challenge, but you did a great job!
Thanks, Elsie. 🙂
Churchill is full of amazing quotes to use in writing poetry! what a neat idea!
I’m glad you liked it. Check out all the links that are on the pages I linked to and you’ll get a lot of idea to use with it.
I have never heard of this kind of poem before. I really like it and think it would be a great classroom tool to spark student imagination. Your dad was definitely one wise man.
Thanks. He was the best!
Strictly following the rules or not (it seems like you did, with a quote instead of a poem – and thanks for sharing the rules), this is perfect. Thanks for a good idea – and an inspiring poem!
Ah, thanks so much. I’m glad you could stop by today.
This is my new favorite poem format. Thank you for taking me into the process. It encourages me.
It is fun to work with, like taking pieces from one puzzle and making them fit into a different one. Check out my reply to alexpapp in these comments for a tip on composing. It might work for you.
The variety of forms for poetry constantly amazes me, including of course your poem today. The combination of quote and dad’s words is powerful; a perfect mix. Thanks for sharing this technique and your lovely poem.
The variety of forms amazes me too! Did you stop by Catherine Flynn’s blog today? She shared a form called “eintou”– originates from Africa.
I love the cohesion between your poem and the original. They blend into a beautiful piece of art!
Thank you, and thanks so much for stopping by.
I’ve never seen this before, what a fun idea. I’m going to try it with my class next week. And the poem you created is really powerful, the reader can feel the message from both Churchill and your dad, loud and clear.
Thank you. Something that worked for me when I was composing was to think of a sentence with the word with it. It doesn’t have to be at the end or beginning of the sentence. Then “list” the sentences and divide them into lines of the poem, making the target word last on the line. With free verse and use of enjambment they have lots of freedom in creating the lines. Hope that makes sense. 🙂