America is Loving Me to Death

by Michael Kleber-Diggs

Photo by Ayanna Muata

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Acrostic Golden Shovel

Step 1

Start by reading “America is Loving Me to Death” by Michael Kleber-Diggs. When you’re done, discuss how the speaker feels about his status in America. Ask them, “What parts of the text stood out to you and why?”

Step 2

Say, “Take some time to come up some ideas that capture how you feel about your status in America. Do you feel embraced? Do you feel distant? Write down as many descriptors as you can and try to provide concrete examples to support those feelings.”

Step 3

Read the quote on the following slide, how the poet describes an “acrostic golden shovel.” Then look at the poem again.

Step 4

Say, “Today, write an acrostic golden shovel that, like “America is Loving Me to Death,” describes your feelings as an American. Since this is an “acrostic golden shovel,” make sure that the first letters of each of your lines spell something, and make sure the last words of each of your lines come together to comprise a sentence (usually a line from an already existing work).”

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one. The prominent literary devices & techniques that this particular poem includes are: diction, selection of detail, figurative language, tone, and structure.

Step 2

Begin by showing your students the following video. Then discuss what the “the double standard for patriotism in America” refers to.

Step 3

Read “America is Loving Me to Death” by Michael Kleber-Diggs. Then discuss how the poem exemplifies the double standard that was addressed in the video.

Step 4

Ask your students to open the following document and go over the introduction and directions with them. In this assignment, the students are going to have to go through the poem, find multiple examples of irony that exist within, and explain how those ironies contribute to the meaning of the work as a whole.

*If your students are not particularly familiar with the concept of irony, you may show them the following short video.

Step 5

When your students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

Step 6

After they’ve shared their responses with the group, explain that the poem is a “golden shovel.” In golden shovels, the last word in each line is borrowed from an existing work, often a poem or song. In this poem, the last word in each line is the first 24 words of The Pledge of Allegiance.” Then discuss how the incomplete Pledge of Allegiance serves to reinforce the message of the poem.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Class
  • Community / Culture
  • Creativity / Imagination / Writing
  • Criminal Justice
  • Death / Grief
  • History
  • Police Brutality / Profiling
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Social Movements / Protest
  • Violence

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Tone