Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lee Bennett Hopkin:s Poetry Interview

Lee Bennett Hopkins
Lee Bennett Hopkins is really the father of children's poetry in this country. Recently Lee was named the 15th winner of the prestigious National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children for 2009! Congratulations, Lee!
If you've been reading contemporary children's poetry you have read one of Lee's books, of this I am certain. I want to THANK Lee for encouraging so many new voices into our field and for being such a disciple to the cause of poetry for children. 
What do you wish every child knew about poetry?
I wish every child would get to know that there are poems about almost anything
one can think of...from dinosaurs to dreams...from sun to spaceships...from family members to food!  Also, that poetry can be a source of both pleasure and
comfort.  Nothing -- NO THING -- can ring and rage through hearts and minds as does this body of literature.
Can you describe your process for creating a collection of your own poems or an anthology?
My trademark in creating anthology (and I've done more than anyone in the history of children's literature) is to provide a balance of voices, a balance of talent.
I begin with theme, for example war.  In AMERICA AT WAR (McElderry Books), I  decided to view  war from a historical perspective -- from the American Revolution to the Iraq War.
In the forthcoming (Spring 20l0) SHARING THE SEASONS (McElderry Books), illustrated by David Diaz, I wanted to bring exciting new works to readers painting the seasons with words and pictures in a completely unique way.  I truly feel David and I have created the ultimate book on the four seasons.  This huge collection was years in the making.  (And this is the very first time I am talking about it!)
 What advice do you have for young poets?
Read read read and study study study the great poets of the 20th century in America. Begin with the National Council of Teachers (NCTE) Excellence in Poetry for Children Award winners.  What a cache:  David McCord, Karla Kuskin,
Myra Cohn Livingston, Eve MerriamX. J. Kennedy, et. al.  From l977-2010 there have been l5 recipients.  This is a course in poetry unto itself.
I end with...Happy Poetry-ing.
THANKS, Lee! And thanks for literally holding my hand before my first big poetry reading at ALA too (I thought I might faint!)