Last summer at the Hamline residency we were lucky to have both Ron Koertge and Marilyn Nelson lecture on different poetry forms. Marilyn discussed the Golden Shovel*** and Ron the pantoum.

One thing I enjoyed about both sessions was that they made concrete an idea that has sustained my writing life through doubts and rejections: to keep going it’s important to enjoy the puzzle-solving aspect of the work. How can I make this work? What if I tried something this way? What happens when I do this?

I was reminded of all this recently when reading Marion Dane Bauer’s blog. Marion is a Newbery Honor author, a veteran teacher, a prolific writer, and wise woman. She blogs about the writing life, and if you allow, I’d like to direct you from here to her tonight. Enjoy.

***The Golden Shovel Poetic Form

This poetic form combines a borrowed line from an existing poem with an author’s own unique work.  Borrow an important or memorable line from a poem and create your own poem with each word of the borrowed line ending each line of your new creation.


Marsha Qualey is the author of several young adult novels, including Just Like That, Too Big of a Storm, One Night, and Close to a Killer. Her books have appeared on numerous best-of-the-year lists, including ALA Quick Picks, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, IRA Readers' Choice, New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age, and School Library Journal's Best Books of the Year.

Marsha retired from the Hamline MFAC faculty in 2017. 

Visit Marsha's website.