The Jet Fuel Review editors are excited to share with you our amazing special section. In this issue, we decided to celebrate the golden shovel poetry form. The golden shovel was created by the award-winning U.S. poet Terrance Hayes in 2010. Hayes’s Lighthead, written to honor the U.S. poet Gwendolyn Brooks, includes a poem entitled “The Golden Shovel.” In Hayes’s poem, the last word of every line is taken from Gwendolyn Brooks’ famous poem “The Pool Players. Seven at the Golden Shovel,” more commonly known as "We Real Cool." Even the title references Brooks’s original poem because her setting is a pool hall called the Golden Shovel. You can read Brooks’s entire poem by looking at the end words of Hayes’s poem, thus creating a new form that has been used and adapted through the years. Because it first appeared as Hayes’s titular poem “The Golden Shovel,” the form’s name has remained the same. The form is meant to pay tribute to the original poem while creating a new text imbued with the writer’s own voice.
We are delighted to feature a wide variety of pieces that highlight this intricate, citational poetic form underscoring how it has expanded since its inception. Included in our collection is Sherrel McLafferty’s “Scrumptious Window” which, similar to Terrance Hayes’s original poem, is also a golden shovel constructed from a Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem, in this case, “The Lovers of the Poor.” Then there are poems that borrow from other authors like Rebecca Hart Olander’s “Fifteen” and “As Bees,” both of which are based on Jean Valentine’s poems. As an example of how the form has evolved, “Goldfinch'' by Clair Dunlap uses the lyrics from folk-rock singer Samuel Beam’s (stage name Iron & Wine) song “Flightless Bird, American Mouth.” We are also pleased to showcase poems from other notable poets such as the following: Tara Betts, the Poet for the People Practitioner Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, & Culture; Gail Goepfert, RHINO’s associate poetry editor; Paula Cisewski, author of four poetry collections including Quitter, recipient of the Diode Editions Book Prize; and, many more marvelous writers not listed here.
We hope that you enjoy and appreciate the careful craftsmanship that went into creating these golden shovels and discover a newfound interest in this captivating form.
Jo Spangler & the Jet Fuel Review Editors