If you’ve never heard of the “Golden Shovel” form of poetry, you’re not alone. It’s relatively new, created by National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes to honor Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) in her centenary year. Brooks garnered a number of significant “firsts” in her life – the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize and the first African-American to be Poetry Consultant (poet laureate) to the Library of Congress.
The Golden Shovel poetic form is usually based on a line or verse from Brooks’ poetry – the last word of each line of a poem are the words taken from a line or verse of a Brooks poem. A Golden Shovel poem can literally be read in two ways – the standard way of reading a poem from left to right and reading the last word of each line downward, to read the verse or line from Brooks. The poem doesn’t have to be about a Brooks poem or even the subject she was writing about, but it can be and often is. And so you can read a Golden Shovel poem as either direct homage to Brooks and her poetry or as an acknowledgement to her ongoing influence.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.
Photograph: poet Gwendolyn Brooks.