Now there were two awards in the country – the NCTE Poetry Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award (see both below entries and my AWARDS page.) 

It wasn’t enough for such an important genre.  After trying hard, very hard, to have the American Library Association (ALA) sponsor an award it just couldn’t happen nor ever happened.

In l992 Susan Mandel Glazer was on the Board of Directors for the International Reading Association (IRA).  Susan and I were very close friends.  I approached her about IRA sponsoring the Lee Bennett Hopkins/IRA Promising New Poet Award.  Without a wink she brought it to Marie Clay, then President of IRA, who immediately got the idea rolling.

My objective was to recognize new talent in the field, thus the guideline was to honor a new poet who published no more than two books of verse.  The award would be given every three years at the annual convention site along with an honorarium of $500.00.

It took three years to go through various committees, et. al.  The first award was given in l995 to Debra Chandra for her wondrous collection, RICH LIZARD AND OTHER POEMS, Debra’s second volume of verse after a stunning debut with BALLOONS AND OTHER POEMS (both Farrar, Straus & Giroux). 

The award was given in Anaheim, California.  The President that year?  Susan Mandel Glazer. What a trip for all of us to come full circle.

2013 marks the seventh presentation.  For complete information on past recipients and a brief history of the award see AWARDS.

My next post will focus on the fourth, and last, award for poetry to come along.

Hopefully the future will bring another, perhaps from ALA, the only major association that doesn’t have an award, among its many awards, for poetry.