“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, 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
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.
About the Author
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.
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.
“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