I am thrilled to share the wonderful news that my mentor, friend, and editor Lee Bennett Hopkins has won the 2009 National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.
To me, Lee is the heart of today's children's poetry. Lee has a passion for creating anthologies that are both accessible and necessary; that feature well loved and important poetic voices; and that introduce new, and with his magical touch, up and coming children's poets.
I am fortunate to be one of those unknown children's poets that Lee discovered in the slush. Some years ago I sent Lee five of my best poems. He wrote back that he wished he had received my poems earlier because one of my poems would have been perfect for the collection he had just sent to the printer. I was honored and crushed all at the same time.
Fast-forward a year or so later to the SCBWI Los Angeles Summer Conference where I went up to Lee after he had inspired a room of children's writers in a break-out session. To my surprise Lee read my name tag and said, "Jill Corcoran....of course I remember you. Why haven't you been sending me poetry?"
After quite a few rejected poems and the best part, working with Lee to revise a poem in which he saw a germ of an idea, Lee selected my poem PIRATES to be included in his forthcoming MG Holiday House collection, I AM THE BOOK, 2011.
Lee is a gift to children, teachers, parents and writers. We are all blessed by his generosity, creativity and wisdom.
To truly understand how Lee Bennett Hopkins has influenced children's poetry, please read Sylvia Vardell's post More on LBH and the 2009 NCTE Poetry Award. Thank you Sylvia for letting us all know as soon as you heard at NCTE that Lee had won.
Here are some of my favorite Lee Bennett Hopkins anthologies:
Lee, as you said to me I now wish back to you....HAPPY DAYS AHEAD!