Golden Shovel Poems

There is a poem nestled in my email each morning. It’s the Poem-A-Day from the National Academy of Poets. I often skip it by, moving into the more urgent emails first. And then the day goes by without reading the poem. One of my resolutions for 2014 is to actually read the poem first.

Today’s poem is from Camilla Dungy and follows the Golden Shovel acrostic form created/popularized* by Terrance Hayes. Hayes used the words from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem We Real Cool as the last word in each line to create his poem The Golden Shovel. Dungy also used Brooks’ poem to write Because it looked hotter that way. In her entry, she describes why she likes using “received forms” for her own creativity and to help her connect to other writers.

It occurred to me that this would be a great ds106 assignment. You don’t have to use the Brooks’ poem, and you can use a memorable line rather than the whole poem. Here are the guidelines from the 2012 Golden Shovel call for submissions. (The editors of the anthology asked for a contribution from President Obama. Funny what you find on the Internet. I definitely want to get back to the database of letters.)

I submitted the suggestion to ds106 and thought I should also try my own hand at it. Here’s the ten minute version:

Rainy Day Farm

Another rainy day. We
shake ourselves dry after the chores, pondering the fact that the real
work of farming must be done despite all.  But it’s cool.
This is why we
the suburban world for this often tough school.
have learned that the farmer cannot linger or lurk.
You must commit to the work, commit to the land. Pigs don’t like being fed late.
When hungry, they may decide to pay a visit to the house even though we
ran the electric wire. Each day we strike
out into the barnyard, our way hardly straight
as we
move from hen house to pig pen, dragging lengths of hose and hauling buckets of food. The animals sing
their greetings, happy in their ignorance of sin.
raise our voices with them, joyful despite the thin
margin of our bank account. There is, indeed, more to work than a paycheck. At night we toast our lives with tumblers of gin
and tonic. We
jig to jazz
and dream of the warm wonderful days of June
when we
will plant the fields again, sowing seed that will grow and yield and die
as the winter comes again too soon.



*The Write Mondays website credits Hayes with inventing it while Dungy suggests he popularized it. None of the bios of Hayes seem to think it’s worth a mention. Acrostics are very old with several found in the Old Testament so maybe a new version isn’t a real cause for celebration.

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