|POETRY AWARD HISTORY CONTINUED|
|Sunday, 24 April 2011 10:56|
My post of April 8th, 2011, focuses on the first award in the U.S. for poetry, the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.
The second national award appeared in 1993.
In the early l990's, a very exciting group had formed, The Children's Literature Council of Pennsylvania. In l992, I wrote to Steven Herb, then president of the association, asking if the Council might sponsor The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award to further promote the genre in a different way since the NCTE Award is given to a poet for their aggregate body of work and then given only every three years. The award I would establish would be for a book of poetry, given annually and come with a cash prize. Steven immediately replied, "YES!"
I wanted the award to be part of Pennsylvania history in that I was born in Scranton. The award seal is a replica of Jessie Willcox Smith's MOTHER GOOSE, depicting Mother Goose embracing two children. Smith was also born in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) in 1863.
The first award, presented to Ashley Bryan for SING TO THE SUN (HarperCollins) was held at the Governor's Residence in Harrisburg - a grand ceremony. This is Ashley's first, and thus far, only book of poetry. A few weeks after the event a large package reached my home: It was the original jacket art from one of Ashley's books of Black American Spirituals.
The award, now named The Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State University Poetry Award, remains the only award of its kind in the United States. Complete information can be found on my Awards page.
My beloved maternal grandmother, Lena Thomas, always told us to 'give something back.' In memory of her wise words I am "giving back" something to a genre that I cherish and to honor the place where I was born.