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  • POETRY AWARDS - PART TWO

    Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
    Lee Bennett Hopkins
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    In the early l990's, a very exciting group had formed, The Children's Literature Council of Pennsylvania. In l992, I wrote to Seven Herb, then president of the association, asking if the Council might sponsor The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award to further promote the genre in a different way since the NCTE Award was being given to a poet for their aggregate body of work every three years. The award I would establish would be for a book of poetry, given annuallly and come with a cash prize that I would fund. Currently $l,000.00.

    Steven immediately replied, "YES!"

    I wanted the award to be part of Pennsylvania history since I was born in Scranton. The award seal is a replica of Jessie Wilcox Smith's MOTHER GOOSE, depicting Mother Goose embracing two children. Smith was also born in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

    The first award, presented to Ashley Bryan for SING TO THE SUN (HarperCollins), was held at the Governor's Mansion in Harrisburg - a grand ceremony attended by hosts of publishing people and family members. This was Ashley's first book of poetry. A few weeks following the event a large package reached my home. It was the original jacket art from Ashley's book WALK TOGETHER CHILDREN: BLACK AMERICAN SPIRITUALS. It is a piece of art I treasure.

    The award, now named The Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State University Poetry Award, administered through Penn State, remains the only one of its kind in the United States. Complete information can be found on my site at AWARDS.

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    Apr 09 Tags: Untagged
  • History - NCTE POETRY AWARD

    Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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    In November, Marilyn Nelson will be the l9th recipient of the prestigous National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.

    In the late l970's when the Award was being discussed, I served on the NCTE Board of Directors.

    Both Bernice (Bee) Cullinan and I were very active in all aspects of NCTE. It was Bee who proposed the Award to honor her son, Jonathan Paul (1969-1975), who at six years old was tragically killed, run over by a neighbor's car in a driveway. Bee founded the Award in his honor.

    When Karla Kuskin designed the emblem for the Award, she included the engraving of young Jonathan sitting upon a tree, reading poetry, of course.

    The Award, first given in 1977, became the fist of its kind in the United States to honor poetry.Consider the Newbery Award started in 1922; the Caldecott, 1938; four decades later poetry is finally recognized.

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    Apr 08 Tags: Untagged
  • NANCY WILLARD - 1936-2017 - A MEMORY

    Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
    Lee Bennett Hopkins
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    At the height of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich days, Nancy received the John Newbery Medal for A VISIT TO WILLIAM BLAKE'S INN: POEMS FOR INNOCENT AND EXPERIENCED TRAVELERS, the first book of poetry to receive a Newbery. The medal was given on June l2, 1982 in Philadelphia.

    Nancy and I knew one another long before this date. We traveled together, she wrote original poems for my anthologies, we visited often, I spoke to her classes at Vassar College where she taught, we were neighbors when I lived in Westchester County, in New York; she in Poughkeepsie, me in Scarborough.

    Visiting her home was always a thrill. One marvelled over a giant six-foot model of 'Blake's Inn' which she constructed and kept building. It was an architectural madness decorated with plaster molds for false teeth, a pendant that might become a liitle person, a scrap of cloth turned into a man's suit or curtains for a window. Look and find pipe cleaners, bits of this and that and those and an array of other castoffs culled from anywhere, everywhere.

    Going into my files I found a poem she wrote for me in 2003. I never used it in a collection. I don't know if she ever published it. (If you do, let me know?)

    She wrote:

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    Feb 25 Tags: Untagged
  • JOYCE CAROL THOMAS - A REMEMBRANCE

    Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
    Lee Bennett Hopkins
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    Joyce and I have known one another for many years. She led quite a life.
    Born in Oklahoma on May 25, 1938, the state was the setting for many of her books. At the age of 10, her family moved to California where she learned the language of Spanish-speaking migrant wrokers who toiled with her during summers, picking tomatoes, cutting onions, gathering grapes.

    Her first book of poetry, BROWN HONEY IN BROOMWHEAT TEA appeared in 1993 (HarperCollins), illustrated by Floyd Cooper.

    "I did not know Floyd Cooper until the first copy of the book was presented to me while I sat at a podium with other writers and illustrators during a Florida book convention," she said. "I looked at Floyd's photo on the jacket cover, then I turned...He was sitting right next to me! At the same time, he turned and was looking at me. This was our first meeting."

    Reading jacket copy she learned Floyd was also born in Oklahoma.

    In 2001, she penned a poem for me for a column I was doing for "Creative Classroom" magazine. The work, "Remembering Marian Anderson" was one I included in my collection, DAYS TO CELEBRATE (Greenwillow) illustrated by Stephen Alcorn.

    I asked Joyce to define poetry. She told me "Poetry is cries and laughter from the heart."

    Laughter. We did that together. Cries. I do that alone.


    Aug 18 Tags: Untagged
  • FED UP WITH CUPCAKES Featured

    Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
    Lee Bennett Hopkins
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    In classrooms across America, children celebrate their birthday. A common practice is for parents to provide cupcakes for this event.

    Well - instead of a cupcake, why not encourage all parents to donate one book to a class or school library, something that will last.

    Imagine - a school filled with (an example) 200 children - all having a birthday - and receiving 200 books per year. This is more than any school library budget could afford.

    A note appended to each book could read: From the parents of _______.

    A legacy passed from year to year to year.

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    Jul 30 Tags: Untagged
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