“Son, don't mind what's missing. Count allthat's free: friendship, laughter, all the love your heart can carry, and time -- count time.”
Nikki Grimes has created an amazing collection of poems that includes an amazing introduction to the Harlem Renaissance for middle school students. In the style of The Golden Shovel form, Grimes lifts up favorite poets of the time and uses the last word of each of their lines to construct an original poem. Like the found poem form, The Golden Shovel uses what is readily available in Grimes' "collection of the heart" to illuminate her gratitude for what came before her: Favorite poems and poets that grew her into the word-working sage she is today. Grimes was born in Harlem and gave her first public reading when she was 13 at a neighborhood library. This is a great book for students ready to write their first poems, to discover some amazing artists from the Harlem Renaissance, and to find out what you love about other poets' work. We become what we love afterall.
For the Toolkit:
Try your hand at a golden shovel poem form!
Listen to this NPR interview with Kwame Alexander talking about his new collection of poems that also focus on poetry that changed his life and informed his writing.
Make a list of stories, movies, and poems that have shaped your life and write a reflection on the power of the shared story!
You may also like:
Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander, a collection of poems that endeavors to introduce young readers to older, well know poets.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanha Lai, a story told in poem form of a girl journeying to America from Vietnam during the war. Lai masterfully uses poetry to tell an immigrants story during a difficult past.
Poetry for Young People by Langston Hughes, a collection of poems by the late, great poet that provides an opportunity for a young reader to dive further into Grimes' great love for this writer.
One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
Illustrations by: Cozbi Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, Nikki Grimes, E.B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon
Ages 10 and up