The Golden Shovel Anthology

$29.95 $22.46

New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks
Second Edition
Edited by Peter Kahn, Ravi Shankar, and Patricia Smith
Foreword by Terrance Hayes
330 pages
6″ x 9″
978-1-68226-095-1 (paper)
February 2017
Second edition: May 2019


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The Golden Shovel Anthology is quite simply a brilliant assembly of the work of poets I have admired for years and ones that I have just come to know and admire. I felt the thrill of creation reading it—the generative taking root, making me want to both read more and immerse myself in the form, in Brooks’s poems, and then write my own as these poets have done with remarkable range. This is an anthology that will be of great value to readers and writers of poetry for generations to come—just as Gwendolyn Brooks was, and is. What a way to honor her memory, her generosity of spirit, and her tremendous contributions to American poetry.”
—Natasha Trethewey, former US poet laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize

The Golden Shovel Anthology celebrates the life and work of poet and civil rights icon Gwendolyn Brooks through a dynamic new poetic form, the Golden Shovel, created by National Book Award–winner Terrance Hayes.

The last words of each line in a Golden Shovel poem are, in order, words from a line or lines taken from a Brooks poem. The poems are, in a way, secretly encoded to enable both a horizontal reading of the new poem and vertical reading down the right-hand margin of Brooks’s original. An array of writers—including Pulitzer Prize winners, T. S. Eliot Prize winners, National Book Award winners, and National Poet Laureates—have written poems for this exciting new anthology: Rita Dove, Billy Collins, Nikki Giovani, Sharon Olds, Tracy K. Smith, Mark Doty, Sharon Draper, and Julia Glass are just a few of the contributing poets.

The poems found here will inspire a diversity of readers, teachers, and writers of poetry while at the same time providing remarkable access for newcomers, making it ideal for classrooms. The Golden Shovel Anthology will also honor Brooks with publication in 2017, the centenary of her birth.

Peter Kahn is a founding member of the London poetry collective Malika’s Kitchen. He is also the founder of the Spoken Word Education Programme at Goldsmiths-University of London, and he directs the Spoken Word program at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He has taught high-school English for many years, where he often uses the Golden Shovel form as a teaching tool.

Ravi Shankar is an award-winning poet, author, translator, and founding editor of Drunken Boat. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Paris Review, and on NPR and the BBC; and his many books include Language for a New Century, Deepening Groove, and What Else Could It Be.

Patricia Smith is the author of eight books of poetry, including Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, Blood Dazzler, a finalist for the National Book Award, and Incendiary Art, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. She is a professor at the College of Staten Island and an instructor in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College.

“Throughout this anthology, more than 60 other well-known Brooks poems can be read the same way, with lines from ‘The Mother’ and ‘The Bean Eaters’ tripping down the right-hand side of the page. The anthology ends with ‘Non-Brooks Golden Shovels’ and ‘Variations and Expansions on the Form.’ The cross-section of poets with varying poetics and styles gathered here is only one of the many admirable achievements of this volume.”
—Claudia Rankine, The New York Times, August 2017

“The editors, including tireless poetry advocate Kahn, of this unique, new addition to the Gwendolyn Brooks legacy put together a richly diverse set of poets working with the most unusual and fertile new poetic form created in recent years. National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes invented the Golden Shovel, which he illuminates in his stirring foreword, writing, “Because where do poems come from if not other poems?” In a Golden Shovel poem, the last words in each line are taken from a Brooks poem. A veritable who’s who of contemporary poets tried their hands at this encoded homage, including Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Rita Dove, Nikki Giovanni, Joy Harjo, Billy Lombardo, Sharon Olds, Alberto Ríos, Tracy K. Smith, and Timothy Yu. Beautifully introduced by Patricia Smith, this is a beguiling and mind-expanding anthology shaped by formal expertise and deep appreciation for the complexity and resonance of Brooks’ work and profoundly nurturing influence. In all, a substantial and dynamic contribution to American literature.”
Booklist, May 2017

“Gwendolyn Brooks was the first black writer to receive the Pulitzer Prize for poetry back in 1950. A new book honors her work in using a form called the golden shovel, developed by poet Terrance Hayes. In The Golden Shovel Anthology (Arkansas), poets select a line from a poem of Brooks’s and use it as the closing line or lines in a poem of their own. The result is an expansive and extraordinary assemblage edited by poets Peter Kahn, Ravi Shankar, and Patricia Smith.”
—Nina MacLaughlin, Boston Globe, March 2017

Kenyon Review’s Summer Reading List

Inventing a New Poetic Form To Honor Gwendolyn Brooks – Lit Hub

100 Years of Gwendolyn Brooks: A Tribute to The Trailblazing Poet – WNYC Radio

Hundreds of poets honor Chicago-bred Gwendolyn Brooks with new bookChicago Tribune

How Gwendolyn Brooks’ poetry is connecting Emmett Till with the violence in Chicago todayPBS NewsHour

Celebrating Gwendolyn Brooks and other bright literary lights – Laura Pearson, Chicago Business

At 100, Gwendolyn Brooks still inspires – Michael Romain,

Honoring Gwendolyn BrooksBoston Globe

Malika Booker Reads “A Parable of Sorts” – The Poetry Magazine Podcast

Art Is Resistance: Editor Peter Kahn Talks THE GOLDEN SHOVEL ANTHOLOGY and The Power of PoetryPloughshares

Gwendolyn Brooks & the Golden Shovel – Sue Dymoke

In Conversation: Kwame Alexander and Nikki Grimes on the Power of PoetryPublisher’s Weekly

Golden ShovelsPoetry Magazine

Spoken-word event at KWH honors activist and poet Gwendolyn Brooks – Natalia Sanchez-Nigolian, Daily Pennsylvanian

Miss Gwendolyn Brooks Don’t Need No Candles: She Has an Anthology – Kara Johnson, Blavity

15 New Poetry Collections To Read During National Poetry Month – E. Ce Miller, Bustle

Peter Kahn on WGN Radio – After Hours with Rick Kogan

Take the ‘Make America great again’ poetry challenge – Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune

Poetry from poetryBroad Street Review

The eight new poems that appear here were selected blindly from over 150 student submissions from around the world in The Golden Shovel Anthology International Poetry Competition.

Open to middle school, high school and college students living in the United States and internationally, the Golden Shovel Anthology Competition invited young adults to submit original poems that adhere to the Golden Shovel form.

The second edition of The Golden Shovel Anthology includes these eight poems and a new preface by Peter Kahn, and was published in Spring 2019.

Golden Shovel Competition Poems (PDF)

Golden Shovel Lesson Plan – Developed by Peter Kahn

August 2012

Terrance Hayes is the winner of the National Book Award and a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. His most recent book is the How to Be Drawn.

Kim Addonizio, Patience Agbabi, Meena Alexander, Raphael Allison, Julia Alvarez, Moniza Alvi, Raymond Antrobus, Mona Arshi, Amanda Auchter, David Baker, Fikayo Balogun, Ellen Bass, Dan Beachy-Quick, Hana,Beachy-Quick, Sandra Beasley, Nathaniel Bellows, Elizabeth Berg, Tara Betts, Terry Blackhawk, Judy Blundell, Jaswinder Bolina, Malika Booker, Dexter L Booth, Jenny Boully, Traci Brimhall, Catherine Brogan, Camara Brown, Jericho Brown, Oni Buchanan, John Burnside, CM Burroughs, Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, Asia Calcagno, Mary Calvin, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Christian Campbell, Siobhan Campbell, Brenda Cardenas, Maxine Chernoff, Marilyn Chin, Franny Choi, Dominique Christina, Ama Codjoe, Michael Collier, Billy Collins, Nicole Cooley, Peter Cooley, Curtis Crisler, Fred D’Aguiar, Phil Dacey, Kyler Dargan, Jon Davis, Teri Cross Davis, Kwame Dawes, Oliver de la Paz, Kendea Decolo, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Danielle Cadena Deulen, Rachel DeWoskin, LaTasha N Nevada Diggs, Stuart Dischell, Chelsea Dixon, Gregory Djanikian, Sharon Dolin, Daniel Donaghy, Tishani Doshi, Mark Doty, Rita Dove, Caitlin Doyle, Sharon Draper, Jehanne Dubrow, Denise Duhamel, Camille T Dungy, Stephen Deunn, Sue Dysmoke, Inua Ellams, Percival Everett, Aisling Fahey, Sharon G Flake, Leontia Flynn, Nick Flynn, Rachel Contreni Flynn, Calvin Forbes, Helen Frost, Hannah Gamble, Amy Gerstler, Reginald Gibbons, Sandra M Gilbert, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, David Gilmer, Nikki Giovanni, Aracelis Girmay, Diane Glancy, Julia Glass, Eugene Gloria, Nikki Grimes, Phillip Gross, Laurie Ann Guerrero, David Guterson, Kimiko Hahn, Joy Harjo, Janice N Harrington, Francine J Harris, Yona Harvey, Chris Haven, Rebecca Hazelton, M Ayodele Heath, John Hegley, Bob Hicok, Brenda Hillman, Edward Hirsch, Raven Hogue, Nathan Hoks, Andrea Hollander, Bob Holman, Ellen Hopkins, Randall Horton, Pam Houston, Fanny Howe, Lindsay Hunter, Ishion Hutchinson, Didi Jackson, Major Jackson, Keith Jarrett, Angela Johnson, Troy Jollimore, Patricia Spears Jones, A Van Jordan, Anthony Joseph, Peter Kahn, Douglas Kearney, Alyssa Kelly, Langston Kerman, Ian Khadan, Ruth Ellen Kocher, John Koethe, Maxine Kumin, Florence Ladd, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Nick Lantz, Dorothea Lasky, Dorianne Laux, David Lehman, Hailey Leithauser, Amy Lemmon, Adam M Levin, Gail Carson Levine, Philip Levine, Gahl Liberzon, Toni Asante Lightfoot, Liz Lochhead, Billy Lombardo, Elizabeth Macklin, Amit Majmudar, Nick Makoha, Lee Martin, Paul Martinez-Pompa, Adrian Matejka, Jamaal May, Gail Mazur, Patricia McCarthy, Marty McConnell, Colleen McElroy, Rachel McKibbens, Joyelle McSweeney, Paula Meehan, Erika Meitner, Michael Meyerhofer, E Ethelbert Miller, Tyler Mills, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Dorothy Moore, Honor Moore, Blake Morrison, Andrew Motion, Laura Mullen, Carol Muske-Dukes, Eileen Myles, Miriam Nash, Marilyn Nelson, Hoa Nguyen, Ugochi Nwaogwugwu, Deb Nystrom, John O’Connor, Sharon Olds, Jose Oliveraz, Alicia Ostriker, Gregory Pardlo, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Elise Paschen, Linda Pastan, Haley Patail, Molly Peacock, Willie Perdomo, Jennifer Perrine, Pascale Petit, Sasha Pimentel, Maya Pindyck, Wang Ping, Cherise A Pollard, Clare Pollard, Jacob Polley, Jack Powers, Richard Powers, Kevin Prufer, Christina Pugh, Mike Puican, Shazea Quarishi, Lawrence Raab, Michele Parker Randall, Kelly Reuter, Barbara Jane Reyes, Natalie Richardson, Rachel Richardson, Alberto Rios, Christian Robinson, Roger Robinson, Sasha Rogelberg, Pattiann Rogers, Kathleen Rooney, Wesley Rothman, Michael Ryan, Fiona Sampson, Aaron Samuels, Jon Sands, Philip Schultz, Lloyd Schwartz, Maureen Seaton, Marcus Sedgwick, Martha Serpas, Kadija Sesay, Diane Seuss, Leona Sevick, Bob Shacochis, Ravi Shankar, Don Share, Anne Shaw, Emmett Jim and Karen Shepard, Evie Shockley, Kevin Simmons, Graeme Simsion, Myra Sklarew, Tom Sleigh, Dorothea Smartt, Bruce Smith, Danez Smith, Patricia Smith, Tracy K Smith, Maura Snell, Lisa Russ Spaar, Hannah Srajer, David St John, Maura Stanton, Kevin Stein, Debris Stevenson, William Stobb, Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet, Liane Struass, Stephanie Strickland, Dan Sullivan, Stephanie Sutton, Terese Svoboda, George Szirtes, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, Angela Narciso Torres, Jacinda Townsend, Tony Trigilio, Lewis Turco, Spring Ulmer, Leah Umansky, Lee Upton, Jean Valentine, Jeanann Verlee, Karen Volkman, Julie Marie Wade, Catherine Wagner, David Wagoner, Fred Wah, Buddy Wakefield, Ronald Wallace, Ellen Dore Watson, Renee Watson, Mags Webster, Tana Jean Welch, John Corey Whaley, Susan Wheeler, Dara Wier, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Rita Williams-Garcia, Indigo Williams, Lisa Williams, Tyrone Williams, Jackie Wills, Eleanor Wilner, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Sholeh Wolpe, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Baron Wormser, Robert Wrigley, Jane Yolen, Jake Adam York, Al Young, Avery R Young, Timothy Yu, Richard Zabransky, Matthew Zapruder, and Danielle Zipkin.

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