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  • Michelle Nott

For the Love of Legacy

Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes with artwork from a plethora of talent, published by Bloomsbury Children's Books.


Nikki Grimes is one of my all-time favorite poets, whether she is writing for children or adults. What she does in Legacy is again nothing short of brilliant.


Readers will discover a rainbow of poetry from the best women poets of the era. In addition, Grimes introduces readers to a poetry technique called the Golden Shovel that she uses to transcend each poet's work with her own spirit and passion.


Briefly, this technique takes a line from or the entirety of a short poem, places the words on the far right margin, which then directs the poet to write lines ending in each line's word to create a new poem. In this way, a true legacy is formed from the original poem to Grime's new verse.


In addition to the musicality and life that comes through each verse, fantastic artwork engulfs the reader into a world of color, form, texture, and soul.


This rich book of poetry is divided into three parts: Heritage, Earth Mother, and Taking Notice. Grimes also offers more in-depth explanations of the time period, of the poetic form, plus poet and artist biographies and further sources.


Imagine It!


By definition, a legacy is something that is left or handed down to someone. It can also refer to someone who follows someone else's path. (For example, if you go to the same school as a parent, you are a legacy).


Now, imagine you are a poet (and if you write a poem, you are a poet).


You can do this exercise with any poem, but let's take Nikki Grimes' last poem from this book, "Journey's End."


Read the poem. Is there a line that makes you stop, pause to think, listen? That's the line for you.


For example, my line would be: "something soft but strong."


In the spirit of the Golden Shovel technique, write a new poem by first placing each word of your chosen line in a column to the far right of your paper. Think of phrases or sentences that could end on each word. And there, you have a new poem!


Imagine the legacy poem you can create and the legacy you can become!




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