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."...