Write Mondays

Writing Workshops for Middle and High School Students in Central Vermont

Write Mondays offers writing workshops for middle and high school students in Central Vermont. We believe in nurturing young writers at every level and challenging students to explore the myriad of writing choices available to them. Kid-centered workshops led by master teachers provide a supportive community where generating, sharing, and critiquing work happens at the group level. But most of all, Write Mondays is about fostering creative expression and translating it onto the page. Workshops are held at Local 64 in Montpelier, VT. 

Workshop 5—Golden Shovel Poetry

Ossmann Photo Crop Thanks to visiting poet, April Ossmann, for leading our poetry workshop and introducing us to the “Golden Shovel” prompt. This poetic form was invented by Terrance Hays, in his poem, “The Golden Shovel” (Lighthead, Penguin Books, 2012), an homage to Gwendolyn Brooks, which borrows her poem “We Real Cool,” in its entirety and incorporates it in the new poem. The borrowed poem or line of poetry is laid out vertically on the right margin of the created poem, as you will see from these wonderful examples written on the spot by Write Mondays’ students.

Write Mondays’ Golden Shovel Poems

Summer’s hurricane battered each branch bare.  —from Mark Doty’s poem, “Grosse Fugue”

Warmth of winter contrasts the ice of summer’s Sweet deception. Her subtlety brews a hurricane Of tired souls, consciences submissively battered. Every second whispered sings earnestly of each Perfect strand of music that spurns another’s branch - Twist my words, spin my thoughts till all is laid bare.

Let’s tip over all the trash cans we can find.  —from “How to Like It,” by Stephen Dobyns
Gwendolyn—Nostalgia In the Mitsubishi 

Asked me if we should; I answered “Let’s,” went to a restaurant; left a gracious tip; whirled the car around the rotary over and over; couldn’t stop laughing, didn’t matter at all; didn’t worry about the subtle rattle of trash tumbling about your backseat; soda cans, broken dreams, longing for the 1950s; we can’t go back now, but you pretend we can; you pretend whenever there’s a solution you can’t find.

here is where the world ends every time.—from Brian Turner’s poem, “Here, Bullet”
Eli P.

The geese were here passing quickly, heading away. It is  the same with the other birds;the chickadees, the bluejays; this is  where the fading land meets the sharp edge of the world. Now the bloodred dying sun lays its beaten body in the west, the world is silent, it ends, here and every where, forever. All that's left is the gelid black, ticking gently, time.


Trees have broken cement sidewalks here This is where the trees reach the stars, this is Children run wild here, they disappeared, into where? Imaginations have run away too, tangled, brilliant, the Beautiful, aged woods have become the whole world Sunlight weaves through trunks of trees as that universe ends Slowly it falls from tips of leaves to roots, touching every One, only with the setting of the sun has it been noticed, time

We stumble through the brush to get there, to get here
here is the hot coco, the fire, the warmth it is
all here in the glowing bubble where
we sleep we eat we play it is the
place that was our entire glorious world
but as we age we explore and the bubble pops and ends
and we set out away from the warmth to explore every
possibility within the limits of our naturally allotted time

The catalyst is here do we ever know when the catalyst arrives? is  it possible to reference the catalyst in present tense, where there is no was or will be. the catalyst brings what? what the world needs, wants, accepts. what the world refuses, hates, runs from. it ends peace, tranquility, routine. a catalyst is the start of every reaction, every change, every era throughout time

Eli F.
Alone in the gathering darkness, I am standing here.
The frigid wind blows through the broken tree that is
Fallen across the narrow and twisting path where
I must cross to reach the beckoning safety of my home, the
Light in the darkening world.
As what light is left in the night fades, and the day ends
I know that a new day will come every
Morning when it is time.


Your heart lies here,
Then your mind is...
If so, tell me where
Is its place in the
Fantasy of your world?
He’ll go, she’ll cry, it ends.
With a word it is over, every
Emotion she cherished lost in time.
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.—e.e. cumming’s poem, “anyone lived in a pretty how town”
Master of the shadows, that is he
Hero of all the songs nobody has sang
The power of the world, in palm is his 
savior of nothing, care you didn’t
hurtling against an invisible barrier is he
only on the words on the tip of your lips he has danced
only a figment of folly in your mind is his
neglect and ignore is what you did
Gwendolyn—The Cruelty of Feigned Oblivion
It seemed as though he
had no idea that my heart sang
each time it saw those bright eyes of his;
it’s as if he didn’t
even notice the longing and
yearning as he danced
around and around with my heart in his
hands. But he did.
I think it must be lonely to be God—from “the preacher: ruminates behind the sermon,” by Gwendolyn Brooks
Stars, planets, asteroids whiz by, whilst I
Floating in space, deep, dark absence, think
The absence surrounds me, that holds everything in it
The star beside me dies, just as everything must
How empty his place seems to be
Planets and stars numerous, isolated and lonely
Always spreading apart, onwards, upwards, where to?
I am sinking, dimming to the presences that be
Here, no one has come, not even God

That is I determined and shaped by what I think constantly chasing it whatever was predetermined, do I must whatever shape they want me to become, I must be have my will cut down and believe lies that I am never lonely drive towards whatever they say I am striving to be whatever an exemplary person is to be and ignore the notion of freedom, and a feeling that I will never get the chance to be a god