A Protestant Talks with Saint Rocco [golden shovel poem]

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I’m thrilled to share that Exhale has recently published my poem, “A Protestant Talks with Saint Rocco” (feel free to purchase a copy of the entire issue of Exhale here).

Here is the poem itself:

You may be wondering why I indented the poem to the right? “A Protestant Talks with Saint Rocco” is my first attempt at a golden shovel. A golden shovel is a relatively new poetic form that uses an existing line of text (such as a line from a poem, prayer, or song) as the last words for each line for a new poem. The poet Terrance Hayes invented the golden shovel in this poem, and he used the earlier poem “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks as his inspiration.

For my golden shovel, I used the “Prayer of Saint Rocco” as my source, especially the line, “Obtain for us salubrious air, but, above all, purity of heart.” The golden shovel form does not require the same use of punctuation as the original poem/song/prayer, but it does require the same unbroken word order. The beauty of the golden shovel form is that it is highly adaptable. To learn more about golden shovels, as well as explore a vast wealth of examples (including modifications of the form), check out the book The Golden Shovel Anthology.

Now it’s your turn! Try your hand at a golden shovel. Pick any line from a poem, prayer, and/or song lyric that captures your imagination, and write each word of that line in a column in the right margin of a page. Your golden shovel poem will have as many lines as the number of words in your selected phrase. For example, the phrase I chose was 11 words, so my poem ended up being 11 lines total. Then fill in your poem as you see fit, using those end words as inspiration. I’d love to see what you write! 🙂

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