The Golden Shovel Anthology International Poetry Competition


February 1st, 2018 deadline


Open to middle school, high school and college students living in the United States and internationally, the Golden Shovel Anthology Competition invites young adults to submit original poems that adhere to the Golden Shovel form following the competition rules. Submissions are open from now until February 1, 2018. No fee is required to submit.   

The Golden Shovel form was created by Terrance Hayes with his poem, “The Golden Shovel,” after Gwendolyn Brooks which appears in his National Book Award winning book, Lighthead.  In this poem, Hayes embeds the words of Ms. Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool” vertically down the right margin of his own poem.  The Golden Shovel Anthology:  New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, edited by Peter Kahn, Ravi Shankar and Patricia Smith, was created to experiment with this new form, and to celebrate the literary legacy and generous spirit of Ms. Brooks, the first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize and for 32 years, the Poet Laureate of Illinois.

The anthology has new work from a range of writers, including high school and college students alongside established writers from different genres.  The review in Booklist calls it, “...a substantial and dynamic contribution to American literature."

At its heart, the Golden Shovel form is about paying homage.  This student competition will create a second “generation” of Golden Shovel poems, paying homage to two individuals, not just one.  

See below for full information about rules and guidelines for the competition.  Resources are also available to support teachers who want to encourage their students to enter, as well as to help students and teachers get copies of the anthology with special discounts and potential donations.