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APRIL-ING...

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Monday, 06 April 2015
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Overwhelmed at the reception of LULLABY & KISSES SWEET (Abrams).

Overwhelmed! I never thought a board book for toddlers would become so popular so fast. Indeed, a thrilling moment in my career.

The past few months have been filled with theatre. Old saws - OKLAHOMA, WEST SIDE STORY - renewed again due to technology and youthful casts.

Concerts -Gershwin, Rodgers, Webber - reminders of what music and lyrics were. Were!

I reach 77 on the l3th. I was 20 yesterday; 25 as I'm writing. Or 30? Next week 77. Incredulous.

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JOYFUL JANUARY

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Monday, 02 February 2015
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January - a month of extraordinary life happenings. On l/6, Florida passed the Marriage Equality Act. On l/l5, Charles John Egita and I married at a lovely private ceremony at our home. A larger reception will be held the end of February. Charles and I met over forty-five years ago. It was time! Time, indeed.

We sailed on the Caribbean Princess for a five-night cruise spent in of the most incredible suites we've ever seen on a ship. Photos appear on my Facebook page.

February is here. I give a talk on 2/7, at the Cape Coral Public Library to "The Cape Coral Bookies" - a local writer's group headed by Kathleen Hayes of Florida Southwestern State College. Local theatre productions abound including a staging of CABARET at The Laboratory Theatre of Florida an exciting, intimate venue.

On the professional front will be three books appearing in March. LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET (Abrams) a board book for toddlers ages 0-5 containing thirty verses all especially commissioned for the project, written by both master poets and introducing new voices.

Two paperback reprint releases are ALPHATHOUGHTS: ALPHABET POEMS (Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong) containing twenty-six verses in a form I invented. School Library Journal hailed the book as "evocative...a celebration of simplicity"; AMAZING FACES (Lee and Low) an anthology celebrating American diversity, is illustrated by incomparable Chris Soentiepiet.

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DELIGHTFUL DECEMBER

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Saturday, 06 December 2014
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One never knows how a book will fare until it finally appears after years of work.

MANGER (Eerdmans), illustrated by Helen Cann, got off to a roaring start. Published in September, the first edition print run was gone by November. Promotion was widespread: A terrific blog by Sylvia Vardell at www.poetryforchildren.blogspot.com--a long interview with Tim Podell at www.goodconversations.com a main selection at Politics & Prose Booksellers in Washington, D.C. - a bevy of rave reviews including a starred review in KIRKUS, a large autographing turnout at a local Barnes & Noble bookstore in Ft. Myers, Florida - a book trailer on www.youtube and more.

I am so thrilled to have MANGER appear after MARY'S SONG.

In addition to the professional it is always thrilling to have such a rich personal life, dates with friends, a production of THE NUTCRACKER, a Holiday Pops Concert, a church pageant, and our huge, ever-growing Christmas gala which we host annually.

Charles has outdone himself this year bringing the theme WHITE CHRISTMAS glowing throughout the house. Believe me -- hosting over 30 people for cocktails, appetizers, live music on the lanai, dinner, a sing-along, dessert and with luck a visit from Santa Claus takes a lot of planning - but it is so rewarding to meet with so many wondrous friends for an evening of pure delight.

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ON WATERMELON

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Saturday, 29 November 2014
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I met Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snickett, only once - at a conference - at the height of his popularity having written his "...Unfortunate Events" series. He was then - overblown!

I've known Jackie Woodson for quite some time. I know of her passion to write, to get published, to keep the pace of genius. I know of her fight, her plight for human rights - her vision of a better future for all.

I was not at the National Book Award Ceremony to hear firsthand Mr. Handler's 'joke' - "Jackie's allergic to watermelon...".

But the remark bothered me. It bothers me. Racism has always been and it is still here - widespread - and it hurts - it hurts a white boy dreaming, too.

My first book, DON'T YOU TURN BACK (Knopf) a collection of poetry by Langston Hughes, published shortly after his death appeared in l969 with brilliant woodcuts by Ann Grifalconi who later received a Caldecott Honor Book Award.

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CAN IT BE NOVEMBER?

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Sunday, 02 November 2014
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Time is once upon, upon again. Where does it go? Better yet, why doesn't some of it stay? NO! Can't be NO-vember. Yet it is.

I oft reread a quote from the brilliant Tennessee Williams:

"Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by so quick you hardly catch it going."

So -- it is November.

My latest book, MANGER (Eerdmans) has received glorious reviews including a Children's Book Council "Hot of the Press' title and a starred review in KIRKUS.

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AUGUST-ING ...

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Sunday, 03 August 2014
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Renee LaTulippe and I continue our NCTE Poet Series. Forthcoming is an interview about the work of the incredible Lilian Moore whose wordplay was as unique as she was. We also did introductory work on Arnold Adoff and Valerie Worth all to be posted in the future. For past interviews click top left icon on my Home Page, "NCTE Interviews".

It is less than a month away until the publicaiton of MANGER (Eerdmans) illustrated by an exciting talent from England, Helen Cann (www.helencann.co.uk). MANGER, due September l, features fourteen poems based on the legend that God granted 'all creatures big and small the power of thought or speech to welcome and comfort Baby Jesus lying in a manger. The book is cited as "a Nativity story unlike any other." It was a delight to dedicate the book to a dear friend, Mary Fischer.

I am working on two exciting projects to appear in 2015; more about these at a much later date!

A great deal of time and energy was dedicated this year to revising and revising an adult novel which will go to my agent by the end of this month. It was a long road to travel filled with exhilaration, frustration and all those things a writer must deal with to get to THE END.

A woman asked me if I was retired.

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WALTER DEAN MYERS - YESTERDAYS

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Thursday, 03 July 2014
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This post is not about Walter's incredible literary accomplishments; it is about my relationship with one of the greatest human beings one could encounter in life.

We met in the late l960's when I worked at Bank Street College at a research center on l25th Street-smack in the middle of Harlem.

A group of us, including poet, Lilian Moore, became quite active with the Council on Interracial Books encouraging the organization to initiate a Children's Book Award for 'minorities.' Walter's first book, WHERE DOES THE DAY GO? (Parents Magazine Press) was the first winner for text. We became friends way back then.

Walter became the first poet to twice win the Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State Poetry Award for breakthrough volumes of verse, HERE IN HARLEM (2004), JAZZ (2007) as well as an Honor Book for BLUES JOURNEY (2003; all Holiday House.)

Although he penned scores of fiction, poetry was an important part of his being. After BLUES... he wrote me: "I am working on poetry like mad...do you know of any verse novels, those you admire? I'm trying one and find myself on VERY shaking ground."

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JUST BECAUSE IT'S JUNE...

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Wednesday, 04 June 2014
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April - May - flew by. A week-long cruise via ALLURE OF THE SEAS was spectacular, filled with surprise, including meeting new friends who live in nearby Sarasota. Pictures of the experience are posted on my facebook page.

I received the first bound copy of MANGER (Eerdmans) to be officially published September l. I am in total awe of Helen Cann's dynamic artwork.The book is also special to me in that it is dedicated to a woman whom I adore - Mary Fischer - who has given so much of her life to better educating children.MANGER is a book of poems relating what varied animals might think or say at the birth of Jesus. It has already been noted as "...a Nativity story unlike no other". Among the poets are Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Joan Bransfield Graham, Jane Yolen, and Alma Flor Ada.

News from Abrams that BABY! (tentative title), a unique board book will appear April, 2015, with art by Alyssa Nassner. The book will feature 30 especially commissioned works by today's top poets dealing with subjects children are engaged in from years 0-5!

What gets shoved aside?Revision on my adult novel which stares at me daily.I plan to delve back into it by the end of this month. I miss the characters. I wonder if they miss me.A few life turnarounds has caused me to rethink parts of the plot. Life becomes reality, reality becomes fiction. Aren't they they same?

Onto tomorrows...

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MY! MY! MY! MARCH

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Monday, 03 March 2014
in My Journal

MARCH! And I have not posted since last November!

Rather than catching up I simply want to add a few things.

Renee LaTulippe and I continue doing tapes on the NCTE Poetry Award Winners. It is wonderful recalling lives of such greats.I have had the opportunity to communicate with both Myra Cohn Livingston's children, Jennie and Joshua, and Eve Merriam's sons, Guy and Dee Michel. You can view the tapes at www.nowaterriver.coat VIDEO LIBRARY - NCTE POETS SPOTLIGHT.

The 2014 Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State University Poetry Awards were announced last week. Information can be found at www.pabook.libraries.psu.edu

I am quite involved with a host of projects. A priority is to finish a third revision of a second adult novel - something that is overwhelming, time consuming, challenging - yet so exciting.The problem with writing is time -- finding it, keeping to a schedule and being disciplined; not an easy task.

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CHARLOTTE ZOLOTOW

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Tuesday, 19 November 2013
in My Journal

Although I knew Charlotte for many years, the first book I did with her was the anthology MORNING, NOON, AND NIGHTTIME, TOO, published with Harper in l980.

I adored her -- not only as being a brilliant editor but a good friend.

At lunch one afternoon, and we had many, many lunches together, I mentioned how sad that her books of poetry were out of print, especially RIVER WINDING (T. Y. Crowell, l970) which first appeared in l970 under the Abelard-Schuman imprint. RIVER... had etherial two-color paintings by Kazue Mizumura which perfectly reflected Charlotte's beautiful poetry.ALL THAT SUNLIGHT (Harper, l967) was also gone.

"These poems plus a bunch of others I keep in a box," she told me. "They're so unorganized. I could never do anything with them."

This was back in the l980's. I was doing a lot of work with Harcourt with the wondrous late-editor Anna Bier. I had an idea to bring back some classic poetry by putting them in new editions. I had just convinced Myra Cohn Livingston to put together a collection of her out-of-print works which Anna published titled A SONG I SANG TO YOU (Harcourt, l980), illustratred by Margo Tomes

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HOLIDAY GIFT BOOKS

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Monday, 04 November 2013
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BOOKS AVAILABLE ON A FIRST-COME BASIS - THROUGH NOVEMBER 22 - WILL BE SENT VIA MEDIA MAIL

SEND email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it citing titles, your address, and if you want personal autographs.

ALL MONIES TO BE DONATED TO CHARITIES.

HARDCOVERS - $12.00 - INCLUDES MAILING COSTS

ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE

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BUSY SEPTEMBER

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Thursday, 05 September 2013
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SEPTEMBER got off to a busy start with news that NASTY BUGS received a nomination for the Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award for 2014-2015. So -- girls and boys will be itchin' and scratchin' for years to come!

Beginning September 6, the wondrous Renee LaTulippe at www.nowaterriver.com will release the first video interview with me on the NCTE Excellence in Poetry for Children Award recipients. I discuss the life and works of incredible wordmaster, David McCord, who told me:

"Poetry is so much more than the shiver down the spine..." -- and more.

Renee and I are at work to include all winners to date.

On September 28, Penn State University at State College will host the 20th Anniversary of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award. This year's winner, Kate Coombs will be there to receive the award for WATER SINGS BLUE.

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AH, AUGUST ...

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Monday, 12 August 2013
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HOORAY!  August l3th is the official publication of ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE (Creative Editions), illustrated by Guy Billout.  Based on Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" monologue from AS YOU LIKE IT, this anthology brings together poetry from birth to old age from 'entrances' to 'exits'.

The book begins with Rebecca Kai Dotlich's brilliant piece of work "Amazing Face II" heralding the birth of a child.  Lines from the poem include:

"You will cry for someone,/jingle keys, trace a warm cheek./You will skip, stumble, soar/You will climb a ladder to the stars...".

A sad observation is that ...STAGE is only the second of two anthologies to be published in the United States in 2013.  There should be more ...and more.  Anthology offers a blending of so many voices to mesh as one.

Plans are underway to begin registration for the Fifth Annual Lee Bennett Hopkins/Edison State Writers Institute at Edison State in Ft. Myers, Florida.  Speakers this year, on October 26, include Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Award winner for SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL, and Stephen Alcorn, illustrator of many award-winning books, including my MARY'S SONG (Eerdmans) - a 2013 First Place Catholic Book Award.  For those in Florida see EDISON STATE at my site.

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MID-JULY-ING

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Friday, 12 July 2013
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Summer months are typically slow in the publishing industry yet many exciting things have happened during June/early July.

My YA novel, WONDER WHEELS, penned over three decades ago is now available on www.amazon/kindle which is quite a surprise.  The novel is based on a tragic experience I went through in my younger years.

MARY'S SONG (Eerdmans) continues to glow with the help of Stephen Alcorn's wondrous illustrations.  In June, The Catholic Press Association awarded the book first place in the Children's Book/Teens category stating:

"An exquisite rendering of the age-old story of the birth of Jesus.  The illustrations are truly captivating while the text summons silence at the wonder of nature itself.  The story, when read aloud to children will be awe-inspiring and the illustrations will leaves traces on a child's heart."

Could anything be better than to 'leave traces on a child's heart'?

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ON "...WHEELS"

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Monday, 17 June 2013
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WONDER WHEELS is now available on Kindle.  WONDER WHEELS, my second novel for young adult readers was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1979 --- 34 years ago.

It quickly went into a paperback edition with Dell who just reprinted my first novel, MAMA, still in print with Boyds Mills Press, and went through at least four printings.

It received an International Reading Association/Children's Book Council Choice Award in l980 and was optioned for a TV film, which, of course didn't happen -- as yet!

WONDER WHEELS is based on a senseless, tragic incident from my own youth. Needless to say I am quite surprised - after over three decades -- it can be read by a new generation.


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MID-MAYING

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Tuesday, 14 May 2013
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MAY!  Or where did April go?  I had a wondrous birthday, celebrated with family and a host of great friends.

I so enjoyed my first SKYPE interview with the effervescent, Renee La Tulippe -- one who truly does her homework.  Since the piece aired in late April, Renee counted over 1200 hits.  Now on youtube it continues to be seen.  If you missed it go to www.nowaterriver.com   While at the site enjoy many of Renee's series of poets and poetry.

Final plans are being firmed up for the Edison State College Lee Bennett Hopkins Writers Institute to be held October 26.

Featured speakers - two people close to my heart -- will be here -- Patricia MacLachlan and Stephen Alcorn who recently illustrated my MARY'S SONG (Eerdmans).  Stephen and I have done a host of books together. I've known Patty for eons.  It will be like 'ol' home week!'

Although ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE won't be released until August, I should be getting a bound copy prior to publication dae.  This YA collection based on a Shakespeare monologue from AS YOU LIKE IT is set in seven acts -- from "Entrances" to "Exits".  Startling, stylized paintings by Guy Billout mesh poetry -- old and new -- from J. Patrick Lewis to Lewis Carroll, Walt Whitman to Janet Wong -- bringing the genre to new dimensions.

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APRIL-ING ALONG...

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Monday, 01 April 2013
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It is hard to believe I turn 75 on April l3th.  I keep thinking of Sondheim's song from FOLLIES -- "I'm Still Here."

It is POETRY MONTH.  I did a long SKYPE visit with Renee La Tulippe for her www.nowaterriver.com site. Renee is incredibly charming, witty, and always excited about poetry.  The interview, conducted from her home in Piombino, Italy, is scheduled to air on April 29th.  It was such fun talking face-to-face from Italy to my study in Cape Coral, Florida.

This is the first SKYPE I have ever done -- it was influenced by Renee who shamed me (for a long, long time) into setting up a SKYPE program.  I'm so glad she did.  I'll post the interview as soon as it is aired.

On the publishing front:  Even with a top agency and stellar publishing houses, it seems everything is slower than ever before.  There is -- tomorrow, next week, next month, a few more months -- on and on.  Things finally happen -- but ...!

I have works finished with publishing dates through 2016!

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REMEMBERING NANCY WOOD

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Friday, 15 March 2013
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NANCY WOOD - JUNE 20,1936 - MARCH 12, 2013

 

Although she lived, loved and died in New Mexico, she was born in Trenton, New Jersey.  In a letter to me in 1994, she said:

"I grew up in Trenton, mostly, but also spent a fair amount of time in Atlantic City with my Irish bootlegger grandfather, who taught me how to fish, clam, swear, play poker, drink whiskey, and bet on horses -- before I was ten years old!  He was also one the founders of the Miss America pageant."

 

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MARCH! MARCH! MARCH!

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Tuesday, 05 March 2013
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It only happens every three years that both the Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State Poetry Award and the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Reading Association (IRA) Promising New Poet Award are given.  This year the Penn State Award goes to Kate Coombs for WATER SINGS BLUE: OCEAN POEMS, illustrated by Meilo So (Chronicle Books):

"For the water sings blue and the sky does too, and the

sea lets you fly like a gull."

The IRA Award goes to Guadalupe Garcia McCall for UNDER THE MESQUITE, (Lee & Low), a tender verse novel which Alma Flor Ada calls "A magnificent new voice in Latino literature." When Lupita, a high school freshman, one of eight children born in Mexico, learns her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Lupita's courage to deal with a life tragedy is revealed.

Two enormous projects are underway, both in revision stages.  Revision --  part of the writing process I detest until it is over with.  It is hard, horrid, cruel -- yet, at times, exhilarating.

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ANOTHER FEBRUARY...

Posted by Lee Bennett Hopkins
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on Thursday, 07 February 2013
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Charles and I returned from a seven-night cruise aboard OASIS OF THE SEAS -- one of those lifetime events.  Photos appear on my fb page.

Of course, one comes back to reality to several million emails, mail, et. al. -- all of which will probably take up the rest of the month.

At the end of this month the Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State University Poetry Award will be announced.

It is hard to believe the Award was established twenty years ago --the first and only Award of its kind for poetry in the United States.  This year's winner will be the 2lst choice.  A gala event is being planned at State College in late September.

 

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