Betsy Burgeson to lead CLSC Young Readers activity in Discovery Garden today for Nikki Grimes’ ‘One Last Word’ exploring diversity


The golden shovel method is the form Nikki Grimes uses in writing One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance, a poetry book in which Grimes has included works by master poets during the Harlem Renaissance and her own poems inspired by theirs.

At 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 8, in the Discovery Garden near the Main Gate, Betsy Burgeson, supervisor of gardens and landscapes, will lead the CLSC Young Readers Program activity for One Last Word.

There will be a discussion about the book and an opportunity to plant flowers and plants using shovels in the Discovery Garden. This is Burgeson’s third consecutive year leading a CLSC Young Readers activity.

“(The golden shovel method) is such a neat new method,” Burgeson said. “I’ve never heard of the golden shovel method, (but) as a gardener, who’s not going to get excited about ‘golden shovel’?”

According to the book, “the idea of a Golden Shovel poem is to take a short poem in its entirety, or a line from that poem … and create a new poem, using the words from the original. … Then you would write a new poem, each line ending in one of these words.”

For example, a Golden Shovel poem to “young readers poem” will be written with three lines ending in words “young,” “readers” and “poem.”

According to Karen Schiavone, manager of Special Studies and Youth Programs, the Young Readers at today’s activity will be “looking at the diversity of the plants on the grounds and in the gardens here.” She said anyone who comes to the event will be able to “get their hands dirty by adding some plants and flowers to the Discovery Garden.”

“Betsy has done several programs for us over the years,” Schiavone said, “and they are always so much fun.”

According to Schiavone, Young Readers will learn about Burgeson’s work on the grounds and how One Last Word ties in to the weekly theme, “The Arts and Global Understanding.”

At a glance, the book might not seem like it connects to Week Seven’s theme, Schiavone said; however, they relate in terms of how diversity is needed in order to create a beautiful garden and a sustainable ecosystem within that environment.

“You need to choose plants that complement one another in how they function. (There are) tall ones and short ones,” Schiavone said. “And different plants do different things. … You need that diversity in order to create a beautiful garden and a sustainable ecosystem.”

Schiavone said One Last Word is a “great way to gets kids interested in poetry.”

“For me, I enjoy this book because poetry was not easy for me to read when I was younger. … Exposing more children to good poetry, I think, is the ultimate thing because I struggled with it as a child. I know that it’s not easy for everyone,” Schiavone said. “(But this book is) able to expose people to good poetry in small doses, small digestible doses.”

Schiavone also said that she thinks One Last Word is a powerful book with messages from the Harlem Renaissance that are still relevant in the modern world. According to Schiavone, the book is “about race and about difficulties that people with different colored skin might face in the world.”

“That was true during the Harlem Renaissance. … We were fighting for equality and justice then. And we are still fighting for it today,” Schiavone said. “That’s the message. That’s what is powerful about it. … And if the message is the same, there’s still hope; we can still persevere.”

Burgeson said she wants to really look at that perseverance from a gardening standpoint. She said the book wants to “embrace diversity” and emphasize how important diversity is for gardens.

“That’s exactly what a garden should be and everyone’s life should be,” Burgeson said. “Embrace all those differences around you. To me, a garden isn’t a garden unless there’s habitat (with) a lot of diversity.”

Burgeson also looks to the future of Grimes’ words growing and readers of One Last Word persevering.

“(When) you plant a garden, you hope it’s going to grow,” Burgeson said. “And I think Nikki Grimes … plants these words, in a way, and hopes that people who read them are going to persevere and maybe

Tags : Betsy BurgesonCLSC Young Readers programDiscovery GardenOne Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance

The author Flora Junhua Deng

Flora Junhua Deng is covering the School of Music for The Chautauquan Daily this summer. She is a rising senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is studying journalism and music. A native of China, Flora is not a huge fan of coffee but likes tea. She is a cat person but also loves dogs.