Deborah LeFalle celebrates the legacy of 20th century African-American poets through golden shovel poems
Since the creation of the golden shovel poetic form by Terrance Hayes, it has been most closely associated with Black poetry, and specifically homage to Black poets. This new collection by Deborah LeFalle declares this intention in her title, and the poets she has chosen to honor in her “offering of golden shovel poems” constitute a pantheon of 20th century Black authors, including Gwendolyn Brooks of course (whose poetry first inspired Hayes to create the form), Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Bob Kaufman, and many others, as well as writers like James Baldwin not always thought of as poets. In keeping with Claudia Rankine’s prescription that a golden shovel should be “in conversation with” the poem and poet that inspired it, LeFalle’s original poems here establish a dialogue with her predecessors, and treat the same themes describing Black experience and the still much unfinished work of achieving social justice and equality. As such they function not only as fully-realized poems of their own, but more importantly in looking back to the examples of Black literary activists, and paying tribute to their words and works, she calls upon readers to continue the struggle: “Time to stop sitting; time to stand up and go.”
Poetry. African-American Studies.
”Using the golden shovel poetic form, LeFalle immerses herself into the minds of poets such as Anne Spencer, Bob Kaufman, and Lucille Clifton. Her poems arrive where the poets’ narratives left off, highlight parallelisms between historical and contemporary society, and enlighten readers on the continuous struggle for social justice in America––while celebrating reverence for life in all of its stages and forms, including the spiritual. There is elegance in LeFalle’s approach to expressing the range of emotions one endures while navigating the complexities of life. She playfully employs vernacular and masterfully articulates mood to invite readers into her psyche. HOMAGE is an exquisite collection of poems that provokes thought and challenges us to contemplate whether life has changed or remained the same over the last century.” —Adrienne Wartts, Poet/Writer/Photographer
”The concept of HOMAGE could easily be dismissed as a kind of high-end Wordle type game. Creating poems using each word of already existing poems as end-words for new poems sounds like an entry to be placed next to a New York Times Sunday morning crossword puzzle; until you read them. Infusing old thoughts with new thoughts, and rolling those into a prescribed word format is more than a challenge. It is a birthing process that brings out the best in all of us – the writer, the reader, the universe. What LeFalle does is gift us with beautiful thoughts wrapped up in a blanket of beautiful words. How can you do better than that?” —Abigail McGrath, Founder & Director of Renaissance House Residency Program
Deborah LeFalle is a former college educator who started writing in her retirement. In addition to writing she enjoys engaging in the arts, digging into her family's past, and spending time outdoors communing with nature. She writes both prose and poetry, but it is the latter she is drawn to most, with inspiration for her poems often stemming from personal experiences. Her work has appeared in various journals, magazines and anthologies, and she has authored two chapbooks and one children's book: Worthy (Kelsay Books, 2017), Little Suites (Prolific Press, 2019) and Bitty Brown Babe (Beaming Books, 2019). She lives a simple, gratitude-filled life in California's Bay Area.
Author City: SAN JOSE, CA USA