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.
by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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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