Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for LIVELY & L is for LEE!

Photo by Amy LV
Happy Birthday!
by Amy LV

Happy birthday to Lee Bennett Hopkins!

Students - Today's poem is a celebratory poem for the birthday of my teacher and friend.  Throughout history, people have written verses and sung songs to commemorate special days.  That's what I have done today, written to celebrate!  In time, I hope to put a tune to this little poem, to make it a birthday song.

Lee Bennett Hopkins, interviewed yesterday at Poetry For Children, holds the GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS record for the most children's poetry anthologies.  If there were a record for the most poets nurtured, he would win that as well.  Generous as usual, Lee offered to answer a few questions about his work today.

How did poetry first come into your life?

Poetry came into my life when I began teaching elementary school in Fair Lawn, NJ, in 1960.  Using verse with reluctant readers became magical. Poems are usually short, vocabulary simple, and often more could be said and felt within 8 or 10 or 12 lines of poetry than sometimes an entire novel could convey.

As the GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS holder for number of children's poetry anthologies, what do you consider when putting together an anthology such as your latest, NASTY BUGS?

The first consideration was to give readers a look at true problems various bugs can bring into our lives.  Then, I had to research the many, many types of bugs, narrowing the list down to include bugs children would be familiar with...head lice, flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, et. al.

NASTY BUGS was a delight to compile. Not only are the poems diverse, but they pack a lot of scientific information within them.  Another wonderful aspect of NASTY BUGS is that every poem is new to readers: none had been published before.

What makes you fall in love with a poem?

I fall in love with poems that make me say aloud: "Oooh" or "Ah".  It is the oooh/ah factor that causes me to know a poem is truly great.

Do you have any advice for child writers?

Read.  Read lots of poems.  After your fill of silly and humorous, steer to more serious works.  Light verse is fine...but it is light -- it gets boring after a while. Read poems that say something to you, have meaning in your life.

One question that Lee is often asked is, "Why poetry?"  Here is his answer, reprinted with permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Why Poetry?
by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Why poetry?
Why sunsets?
Why trees?
Why birds?
Why seas?
Why you?
Why me?
Why friends?
Why families?
Why laugh?
Why cry?
Why hello?
Why good-bye?
Why poetry?

That's why!

Happy happy birthday, Lee!  Thank you for all you have done for poetry and for children and for poets. Many thanks to Penguin Young Readers Group for donating 2 copies of NASTY BUGS for today's giveaway.  Please just leave a comment on today's post by Sunday at 11:59pm, and you may win a copy of this book.  There will be two winners!  

Anastasia is hosting today's Poetry Friday over at Booktalking.  Head on over to read all of today's goodies... It's April and the buffet table is full!

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  1. I love the tribute and interview of one of my favorites! And what a special treat to have a birthday poem written in your honor. I'd love to win a copy of the book, but no lice please!

  2. Wonderful post today, Amy! Very inspiring. Here is a haiku to honor long friendships:

    Lively Love

    Lively love lingers,
    loves through every up and down.
    Lively love lives long.

  3. Here's to the generosity of poets and anthologies and world records and Lee and birthdays and nasty bugs! Thanks for sharing, Amy!

  4. Fantastic interview. I always enjoy your poetry, Amy and what a great way to honor a poet. Can't wait to read Nasty Bugs.

  5. Happy Birthday to Lee!
    Love your poem, Amy :).

  6. What a perfect birthday gift for Lee...your poem is perfect, Amy! And just like at school, when the birthday child walks around and passes out cupcakes, Lee gave us all a treat with "Why Poetry". Thanks for a fun post and a chance to wind Nasty Bugs!

  7. A lovely tribute to Lee, Amy! Best wishes to the guest of honor, and a big thanks for everything. :)

  8. Thanks for the great interview.
    I'd love to win a copy of Nasty Bugs -- my boys would love it!

  9. Lee was very kind and encouraging to me when he was assigned to critique my poetry at my first (and only) national SCBWI conference. Just today I brought several of his books to share with a colleague who asked me, "What poetry books should I read to my 5-year-old daughter?"

    Thanks for the great interview, Amy!

  10. At first I thought perhaps it was your son's birthday, but what a nice surprise to find out that it was Lee Bennett Hopkins' big day, & you wrote a poem for him! Sweet interview to hear about the beginnings & the advice for us, and for students. Thank you, Amy!

  11. Lee Bennett Hopkins is an absolute favorite. His anthologies are incisively chosen and capture the core of what he wishes to feature - digs deep into the heart and lodges there, unmoving. Happy Birthday to one of my favorite poets of all! Thanks Amy for doing this beautiful tribute.

  12. A lot of fun going on here! I looked at the list of words you have used so far, what a great challenge and idea. Your poem and tribute to Hopkins were sweet. I may need to share your interview with my kindergarten students. Thanks for featuring Hopkins today!

  13. This is so great. I love the "oooh/ah factor." Exactly right!

  14. Amy,
    I enjoyed your poem as I could just picture a classroom birthday celebration --- lively. I also enjoyed the interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins. I learned much I didn't know.


  15. Happy Birthday,Lee! Love your poem as ever. And thanks, Amy, for the interview!
    As a teacher I have found the same blessed magic of poetry and its effect on children. There is so much variety, so much potential and so much treasure in poetry. Keep it coming, poets, in all its texture and topic and timing.
    Janet F.

  16. Oh! I missed the giveaway as I am just catching up. But the poems were gifts themselves...Not to sound corny...oooo that does sound so corny...but maybe not to a poet! And a belated birthday wish to Lee.