Friday, August 23, 2019

Our Dear One, Lee Bennett Hopkins



Mini Monster, Black Eyed Susans, Tattoo
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Lee Bennett Hopkins was a husband, a poetry great, a writer, a teacher, an anthologist, and a loving, wise, funny friend to so many people. Numerous poets found their way by the light of his thoughtful lamp, and children of all ages will forever be delighted by the lines of poetry he left us all. 

After Lee's death two weeks ago, Poetry Friday Friend Jone MacCullough suggested we celebrate his life by writing poems from lines of his own works. So today, many of us have read Lee's poems, have lifted lines, and have written poems inspired by his words. Many others will be thinking about and celebrating Lee in different ways.  And in doing so, we all hope to honor his life and his brilliant legacy.

Last Saturday, I did really get a tattoo inked on my right forearm as a way of keeping Lee's words nearby. You can find the poem Good Books, Good Times! in his anthology of the same name, and you can listen to him recite it at Renee's place, No Water River. By wearing Lee's lines on my arm, I hope to remember his generosity every day, writing as well as I can to earn what he taught me.

Lee Bennett Hopkins
1938 - 2019
Photo by Lee's Husband, Charles Egita


Rebecca Kai Dotlich, one of Lee's dearest friends and a writer whose poems open and close so many of his anthologies, kindly shared these beautiful words and pictures about their friendship. 

Please Click to Enlarge

How lucky we have been to travel the Earth at the same time as this love-and-laugh-filled man. As others have said over the past days, may he rest in peace and poetry. 

To read more about Lee, you may wish to visit these places:

Spotlight on Lee Bennett Hopkins with Sylvia Vardell at No Water River
Guinness Book of World Records - Most Prolific Anthologist of Poetry for Children
Autobiographical Book of Poetry - Been to Yesterdays, 1999
Surprise Party (80 in 2018!) at Robyn Hood Black's Place - Life on the Deckle Edge
Obituary in The Washington Post
Obituary in The New York Times
Obituary in News-Press
Obituary in Publishers Weekly
8/23/19 School Library Journal Piece about Lee

I am grateful to WordSong/Boyds Mills & Kane, one of Lee's publishers, for offering five copies of one of Lee's recent anthologies, School People to five commenters on this post. In the August 13, 2019 Publishers Weekly obituary, Rebecca Davis, Lee's editor at WordSong, said this of Lee, "I keep thinking he was joy poured into human form. I will miss him and his joy for the rest of my days."


If you would like to be entered to win a copy of School People, please leave your contact information in your comment, and I will draw names next Thursday, August 29 to share next Poetry Friday, August 30.

And as you stroll around the Kidlitosphere today, through this week, and through your life, may the lines of Lee's poems and books fill you up and help you grow. If you wish to find these links or link in yourself...here you go!
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39 comments:

  1. Amy, your tribute to Lee is beautiful. You captured his forever spirit forever through your new tattoo, the lines-"this love-and-laugh filled man," and "you opened windows in my mind." What a wonderful way to celebrate Lee - through the poetry he so loved and offered to the world. We will miss his smiles, his friendly ways, and his writing. Thank you for hosting. (contact info: 1430 Surrey Lane, Rockville Centre, NY 11570)

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  2. Lovely, heartfelt tribute to this dear poet who we'll all miss so much. And what a grand gesture your tattoo is Amy,
    "Good books
    Good times" that says it all!
    Thanks also for sharing Rebecca Kai Dotlich's note and small mementoes from Lee–and hosting this Poetry Friday Roundup tribute. (email contact: michellekogan@michellekogan.com)

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  3. Amy ~ what a generous post! So gladly Lee brought you into his orbit, and HE was lucky to know YOU, too. What an out-sized personality he was...what a Johnny Poetryseed. And man oh man, you are brave, Girl! I'm not sure I could hold still for a tattoo...especially on that most tender spot.
    We at TeachingAuthors.com will celebrate Lee's poetry on Friday September 20th.

    And I'm in today with a short post about the view from my work space...so if you want to see my desk, my view, my three dogs (2 are short-term rentals), and a poem about them, come on over!
    https://www.teachingauthors.com/2019/08/3-dogs-in-my-writing-room.html

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  4. "write true poetry" is the line I took from Lee to shape my post for today. This post, your writing, your learning and your teaching is such an embodiment of that. Thank you for hosting such a special round up today. Thank you for being such a good friend of poets and poetry too. I would love to win a copy of School People for my ... well, school people.
    hubeimom@yahoo.com

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  5. Lee was so much to so many. His influence is amazing. I will continue to be inspired by his work and the work of his acolytes.

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  6. I've always been drawn to the mischievous sparkle in Lee's eyes in photographs, and wish I could have met him. This post is such a beautiful celebration of your teacher, your mentor, your friend. "You opened windows/ in my mind./ I grew through your belief." These lines from your poem are the best tribute a teacher could have! What a legacy Lee has left behind! So many will continue to "find their way by the light of his thoughtful lamp." Thank you so much for hosting today. (email contact: mbhmaine@gmail.com)

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  7. Amy, your tribute and Rebecca's are both beautiful and heart-rending. Today's going to be tough, but it's also going to be healing, I'm sure. Thank you for hosting this wonderful celebration of his life and words.

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  8. What an amazing way to carry Lee with you always! One of my daughters has a tattoo of the words LiveStrong because her grandfather loved watching the Tour d'France and was an example of living strong.
    I think Lee must've been a strong life-liver, too. His influence is so wide spread. Your words and all the words gathered here are a fitting tribute to him. He would've loved this gathering.

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  9. I love your poem and your very physical tribute. Tattoos can be healing and they carry the weight of history and love with them. Interestingly enough, I chose a line from Lee's poem in this book to write my poem in tribute to Lee.
    Thanks for hosting this wonderful celebration and remembrance on Poetry Friday.

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  10. Wow. That is a mega tribute many times over, Amy. Your poem, post, and tattoo! We still hear Lee's voice, and you are one of it's speakers. I'm just relinking last week's poem sannce I posted a week early. Thanks for hosting, Amy. Hugs to you.

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  11. Well! If your deep connection with Lee was not palpable in your post(s) about him, Amy, your commitment to your gratitude IN INK makes it indelible. I wonder about Lee's feelings about tattoos, and just that wondering makes me smile. Thank you for sharing Rebecca's remembrance also--it gives more depth to my understanding and to my grief for a new relationship with Lee that I was just finding time to build. Pain can comfort, can't it?

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  12. "Joy poured into human form." What a perfect way of describing our friend. I obviously don't need to be in the drawing, but I did want to thank you for hosting this celebration of Lee's life...you and I and so many others all owe him so much.

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  13. Oh, Amy. This will be such a beautiful yet hard day. A tattoo, amazing. I adore what Rebecca put. I adore what Lee did for you and so many others. Grief is hard, right? Please contact me at my email address which you have. I am not sure I can read them all today. Meatloaf sandwiches with ketchup and tattoos. Small details that mean the world. Big hugs. He touched my life, too, in big and small and generous ways. How lucky. How sad.
    Janet Clare F.

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  14. So much love at at the Poem Farm today... thank you, #DearOneALV. xo

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  15. Good Friday to Lee's DearOneAmyLV,
    Appreciations for creating this living room of shiva-sitters, grief-bearers, celebrators. I feel better from reading the exquisite words of the two talented ones named Rebecca (RKD & RMD) who were front & center in his literary life so much. I am startled with your tattoo image & surprisingly lifted up by your tattoo poem; it is the first tattoo I have ever liked Amy. I feel nourished to read this entire post & especially:

    "poets found their way by the light of his thoughtful lamp..."

    love,
    Jan

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  16. Lee's, life was filled with beautiful words and your post today for him, your poem, tattoo, sharing Rebecca's love, too, all word gifts for him create a package he would love to open, Amy. His poems guided my poetry in the classroom many times and I am grateful for all he brought to the world.

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  17. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful, inspiring tribute, Amy.

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  18. Thank you, Amy for such a beautiful tribute. Love your poem. And that tattoo--oh my!! Lee would have loved you gathering so many to speak of poetry. LBH touched so many lives. I was fortunate to be in the room back in the NCTE 2009 room when he was honored. The room was filled with all who loved him. It was an privilege to be there. Surprisingly, so many felt they were the only 'Dear one.' He had presence. LBH has helped make poetry accessible to my students and students all over the world.

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    1. Thank you so much for these kind words. I think Lee is loving this.

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  19. Thank you for this lovely tribute to Lee. He was a huge influence in my writing and in my life. His joy and love will continue to inspire future generations.
    Sending many hugs your way.

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  20. Lovely Amy, thank you for gathering us today. Your tribute is beautiful and your TATTOO! WOW! Sending a big hug to you and feeling comforted by this beautiful poetry community.

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  21. Amy, this is such a beautiful tribute and such a wealth of information to learn more about Lee. I wish I had had the opportunity to know him more directly, but I am grateful to at least learn from the words he so generously shared and from the people and poets he nurtured. Thank you for gathering all the links and tributes today.

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  22. After reading your post here I am sorry that I am only briefly acquainted with the work of Lee Bennet Hopkins. I purchased some of his anthologies for my school library without noting the significance of the man himself. From reading his many obituaries online and all the comments here I further understand the magnitude of his goodness. Today poem for him likens him to a mother tree.
    I would love a copy of School People. You can contact me at cweichel(at)gmail.com.

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  23. Such a beautiful post, Amy. Thank you for your Remembrance poem (I have to admit, tattoos usually make me cringe, but yours is gorgeous as is the poem that it reflects.) Thanks also for sharing Rebecca + Rebecca--their words bring all of us Lee's "joy poured into human form." As do his poems and anthologies--a tribute to a life well-lived, and to the future. (buffysilver@yahoo.com)

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  24. What a beautiful tribute poem (and tattoo!), and a wonderful gift you are giving us as a community today. Thank you Amy.

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  25. Hate to say it, but . . . I don't think of joy when I think of Lee. Instead, I think of someone FIERCE going to battle for poetry. I think of a curmudgeon who knew how to rock the boat, who would tell the truth in the most direct way. I think of a mentor to many who loved to promote new talent, new poets like Rebecca (way back when), and you (Amy), and Irene Latham, and Renee LaTulippe. But even if I don't think of joy, I can definitely imagine him enJOYing immensely the sight of your tattoo while exclaiming, "Oh, MY!"—and gasping, then laughing, his hand pressed on his chest, his face turning his favorite purple.

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    1. Thank you Janet for this wonderful post. Lee had the best laugh ever. It was memorable.

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  26. (Janet's comment was perfect....)
    Amy, thank you for hosting and pouring your love into this post today. I'm still tearing up at poems and comments and posts and pictures, and we all will for quite some time. It's comforting to have so much company in this loss. PS - Can't wait to see the tattoo in person! Brave woman, you are.

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  27. FYI here's a piece by School Library Journal honoring Lee: https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=lee-bennett-hopkins-legacy-of-anthologies-careers-launched-teachers-to-infuse-poetry-daily-into-curriculum. Please comment so SLJ will know that so many of us cared about Lee.

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  28. I’m currently in LA setting up my son at college but dropping in to read all the love on these pages. Lee’s passing left a hole in my heart — but these tributes are filling it up. Thank you beautiful and loving poetry community for connecting us all. ❤️����

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  29. Amy, your poem is a beautiful tribute to Lee. The heartfelt comments just confirm what an impact Lee had and will continue to have on the kidlit poetry community.

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  30. I will miss LBH's genius, but he lives on in all of us who love his work. Amy, your poem is a lovely tribute to him and his legacy. I am so glad he touched the lives of so many wonderful children's poets today who will continue to write amazing books for us to cherish and share with our students.

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  31. This is a wonderful tribute to a very special person. Thanks everyone!

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  32. We have been lucky "to travel the Earth at the same time as this love-and-laugh-filled man." Your poem is perfect, and your tattoo! How brave of you. Thank you for organizing this wonderful tribute, and for sharing Rebecca's heart-felt words.

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  33. Amy, love your words of remembrance for Lee. I count myself lucky to be in the ranks of children who will be forever delighted by his words. His book, Pass the Poetry, Please! pointed me to poetry as a parent and educator more than three decades ago.

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  34. Amy, thanks for sharing your lovely remembrance of this inspired and inspiring poet. I wish I had known him personally, but I'm happy to know him through his work and through the people I know who knew him. And thanks for hosting this tribute to LBH. I'm honored to be part of it.

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  35. Thank you for hosting! It was a great Poetry Friday.

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  36. What a loving tribute. This once again brought tears to my eyes. Lee will be dearly missed. I would love a copy of "School People" (as it's one of his collections that I don't have yet). Feel free to send me an email IF I should be picked (mermaidrain@hotmail.com).

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  37. Thank you for hosting this celebration in Lee's honor, Amy. I was thrilled to meet him, not long after my novel in verse was published. I'm so grateful that Lee was a poetry advocate on behalf of all of us -- poets and readers alike.

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