‘Twas a mighty day, when Lee Bennett Hopkins was born.
To appropriate from an ancient text,
how I feel about poetry is that
poetry “restoreth my soul.”
And today on April 13, the birthday of Lee Bennett Hopkins,
I am thrilled to think about how
it seems that no other person for so long, steadily
creates opportunity “to restoreth the soul”
of poetry to young readers of all ages,
than Maestro Lee Bennett Hopkins.
For decades & decades, Lee has not only shared
his poems, but he has also brought hundreds of
other poem makers into anthologies that are
beautifully illustrated &
sought by families who love poetry,
by classroom teachers & by school librarians.
Lee is a book maestro
arranging for poet & artist to create together
musical results, such as in
THE SEA IS CALLING ME
& JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES.
& RAGGED SHADOWS
& SHARING THE SEASONS
& others, which some outfit by the name of
Guinness has counted up.
In one of my favorite’s of his, THE SEA IS CALLING ME,
a three-verse poem by Lilian Moore floats the lines:
“Until I saw the sea
I did not know
could wrinkle water so…”
©LILLIANMOOREallrightsreserved “Until I Saw The Sea”
At the shore
I now am tickled to see
Lilian Moore’s wrinkled water
where I didn’t think of it
that way before.
Lee is a fierce
advocate of many decades standing for
diverse voices being on stage.
A CHORUS OF CULTURES, Lee brings Arnold Adoff
into class with the four-verse,
“The Way I See Any Hope For Later”
that says in part,
“…And stop looking
at who is a woman
who is a man.”
And Lee published this book 25 years ago.
I am among the many fortunates, especially in children’s literature,
who call Lee & his genial partner Charles, pals.
We met at a poetry workshop in their adopted
state, Florida, which has also adopted back,
naming Lee Bennett Hopkins
to the august roll call
of artistic legends in the Florida Artist Hall of Fame
where Hurston, Hemingway, Williams & Rawlings
are equally honored.
And back at that Society of Children’s Book Writers’ & Editors
workshop I met writers
in a nurturing space who have become pals. There, I also
felt how Lee leads us into the still waters &
the green pastures
of poem making with goodness, mercy
& his sprightly twinkle.
His rough child days
held little twinkle,
needed more laughs.
saw a creative spark
in the writings of her student
Lee, who was being ridiculed
for liking writing. Her
lifting him up
made him hope:
a whole lot
I grow up
Reading through the
other linked poem moments of his New Jersey
& Pennsylvania start with
a very stressed single mother,
in BEEN TO YESTERDAYS,
fully shivered me.
Lee Bennett Hopkins does
make this word a whole lot brighter.
HB!HB!HB! to dear Lee.
With many many more
yet to see,
To see more Lee Bennett Hopkins joy celebrated across
the Kidlitosphere of Poetry Friday & associates, please
turn to the artistic site of my South Carolina
pal & Haiku whisperer,
Robyn Hood Black.