The deadline for the third issue of our zine ‘Oxford is My Home’ is 11 May! You have less than a week to get your stories, poems, and images to us, so to help you on your way, we are putting out a prompt a day to get your creative juices flowing. Click here for more information about the zine and submitting your work to us

Next up…


The Golden Shovel

Today we invite you to try writing a ‘Golden Shovel’ poem. This is a type of poetic form invented by Terrance Hayes in 2010, which inspired many poets to write their own. It’s a simple idea but challenging and fun to do.

Here is how to write a Golden Shovel:

  1. Take a line (or lines) from a poem or book you admire, or even from a news article.
  2. Use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem.
  3. Keep the end words in order.
  4. Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).

That’s it! The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words. If you pull a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long. If you pull a stanza with 24 words, your poem would be 24 lines long. And so on.

Want to see how it looks: read these two poems to see how Terrance Hayes used a Gwendolyn Brooks poem to write the first golden shovel:

We Real Cool, by Gwendolyn Brooks (original poem)

The Golden Shovel, by Terrance Hayes (golden shovel poem)

As you can see, the original golden shovel takes more than a line from the poem. In fact, it pulls every word from the Brooks poem, and it does it twice! Have fun!

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