Friday, April 13, 2018

NPM 4-13 and Poetry Friday: This One's for Lee

How do you honor someone who's heart and soul breathes poetry?

Today the inimitable Lee Bennett Hopkins is celebrating a birthday. This then, is the perfect day to celebrate all he has done and continues to do to commend, nurture and expand the world of children's poetry. While he is a noted poet and prized anthologist, Lee does so much more for children's poetry. Lee founded the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, an award presented annually to an American poet or anthologist for the most outstanding new book of children's poetry published in the previous calendar year. Since its inception in 1993, the winning poet or anthologist has received a plaque and honorarium made possible through Lee's generosity. You'll also find his name attached to the ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, which is given every three years to a promising new poet of children’s poetry (for children and young adults up to grade 12).

I first "met" Lee when I began my career as a classroom teacher and read a number of his articles in professional journals and publications for teachers. Now, I was not teaching elementary students or an English Language Arts teacher, but I saw great connections between poetry and science, particularly in emphasizing the skill of observation. My first poetry purchases for the classroom were the two anthologies pictured below.
In 2009 I was honored to interview Lee for my Poetry Makers series. I finally had the pleasure of meeting him in person in 2010 at the NCTE conference in Orlando. He was smart and funny and just plain lovely.

I can't say enough about his generosity of spirit, his mentoring and tireless efforts on behalf of poets both new and experienced, and his boundless enthusiasm for poetry as a medium to touch the hearts and lives of children.

On this special day, here's a short poem for Lee.

How do you honor
an icon? With poetry
crafted in love.

With much gratitude and so much love for who you are, what you do, and what you stand for, I send you the fondest birthday wishes.

I  do hope you'll take some time to check out the other birthday wishes and all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Robin at Life on the Deckle Edge. Happy poetry Friday friends.


  1. I love seeing those first LBH books you purchased, Tricia! Thanks for joining the party with this heartfelt, lovely tribute.

  2. It's a sweet poem and post for Lee, Tricia. I love hearing your memories.

  3. It's inspiring to tour the Poetry Friday posts this weekend, and read all of the stories about Lee. He has certainly meant a lot to a lot of people. Definitely an "icon!"

  4. Love your short poem! When I was looking at LBH titles for my post, Flit, Flutter, Fly was one that caught my eye.

  5. What a lovely tribute and poem. I love the connections you make between science and poetry.