Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet, artist

Hannah enjoying poetry workshop

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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
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Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - A Florida Orange Juice Toast to Lee Bennett Hopkins!

February 16, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Lee Bennett Hopkins, found poetry, Florida

Today’s brief post is a combination of Throwback Thursday (see the pic) and I-Can’t-Wait-Til-Next-Thursday (read on for that!).

The “throwback” part is that nearly 10 years ago (gulp!), I finally got to meet Lee Bennett Hopkins in person, at the SCBWI Conference in LA, where I had gone to take his Poetry Master Class. He hasn’t changed a bit – I’ve seen pictures and Renée’s NCTE Poet Award interviews - while I’m edging my way along the road from Long-ago Maiden toward Crone. (And that’s fine with me – I don’t worry what anybody thinks of me these days, and more creative time DOES open up after years in the carpool lines.) ;0)

The “can’t wait” part is that next week, I’m driving a wee bit down the coast and taking a right turn past the Florida line toward Gainesville, to go watch Lee be inducted into the Florida Arts Hall of Fame. I was honored, along with many others including some fellow Poetry Friday-ers, to write a nominating letter on his behalf and to include accolades from several Star-Power poets and others supporting Lee’s recognition. [Hats off to poet friends Stephanie Salkin and Jude Mandell, who guided us through the process. ]

Lee’s receiving this honor is especially meaningful to me, because I grew up in Florida. My folks are still there, and I have family members tucked in among the orange trees all around Central Florida from Orlando to the Gulf coast. I always carry a bit of The Sunshine State with me, and visit when I can. The Hall of Fame recognition is the highest honor given by the state to artists in a variety of fields, and the list of recipients includes Ray Charles, Tennessee Williams, and Ernest Hemingway, among others.

THREE CHEERS to Lee on this wonderful honor, which will have good company with all the red-carpet-worthy awards he’s won over the years. I’ve been blessed to know Lee as someone whose work I’ve admired beyond words, and who, as a mentor & editor, has pushed me into writing stronger poetry. Next week I’ll be a fan, a friend, and something akin to a fellow-Floridian, cheering from his corner.

In Georgia Heard’s THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK, A Book of FOUND POEMS (Roaring Brook), my own poetry first shared pages with poems by some of my poetic heroes. Here is the beginning of Lee’s poem, “First Wins” (from selected words in a SPRINT newspaper advertisement):

FIRST leads.

FIRST moves us forward.

FIRST kicks open the door.

FIRST takes us places
            we’ve never been
            before. …

©2012 by Lee Bennett Hopkins.

I think we could say,

LEE leads.

LEE moves us forward.

LEE kicks open the door.

LEE takes us places
            we’ve never been
            before. …

And, I'm grateful.

[I’ll be on the road back home next Poetry Friday, so you can enjoy this post for two weeks. ;0) ]

For today’s inspiring Roundup, please visit poet and librarian extraordinaire Jone at Check It Out.


  1. February 16, 2017 11:57 PM EST
    Robyn! I LOVE how you changed his words into a tribute to him--wow. This whole write-up is terrific. Thank you!
    - April Halprin Wayland
  2. February 17, 2017 4:42 AM EST
    Robyn, I am a little envious that you have met Lee and that you will be there to see him inducted. He's one of my heroes. But if it can't be me, I'm glad it's you :) Great tribute to him too. Enjoy your trip.
    - Sally Murphy
  3. February 17, 2017 6:44 AM EST
    Great tribute! Like April said, I especially love how you tweaked his own words into a celebration of him. Well done! Congratulations to Lee Bennett Hopkins! I'm so glad you'll be able to be there to celebrate his achievements. What fun!
    - Molly Hogan
  4. February 17, 2017 6:45 AM EST
    Sounds like a sensational time will be had by all! Your tribute to Lee is very appropriate. So glad he's being inducted!
    - Tabatha
  5. February 17, 2017 9:16 AM EST
    Hey, Dear April - Thanks. And I know you'll be sending California sunshine wishes for Lee across the country next week. :0)

    Thanks, Sally - I'm sure someone will snap a pix of those of us lucky enough to be there to cheer him on. Have a great weekend Down Under!

    Hi, Molly - glad you enjoyed, and I'm so looking forward to being there. Thanks.

    Wish you could join us, Tabatha - it's a feather in Florida's cap, too, isn't it?
    - Robyn Black
  6. February 17, 2017 9:41 AM EST
    I see you're getting an early start on the celebrating, Robyn! LOVE this touching post. I, too, feel proud to have played a small role in the process and am delighted to know that Florida has recognized his value as a statewide, national, and international treasure! See you next week!!!
    - Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
  7. February 17, 2017 9:46 AM EST
    Lovely tribute, Robyn. I imagine thousands of poets and children have been touched in beautiful ways by Lee's books. How wonderful that you are part of this celebration! Happy travels!
    - Linda Baie
  8. February 17, 2017 10:04 AM EST
    Yes, Michelle, let's extend the celebrating all directions. I'm so excited I finally get to meet YOU in person next week! :0)

    Thanks, Linda - I believe the number of poetry books Lee has authored or compiled is now up around 200? And any one of them could be the open door to poetry for one special child. Amazing to think about.
    - Robyn Black
  9. February 17, 2017 10:05 AM EST
    DEAR ONE: ALL I can say is that I cannot wait to give you a great big Poetry Hug next week. You are very special to me.
    With admiration for all you do to promote poetry -- and with LOVE. Lee
    - Lee Bennett Hopkins
  10. February 17, 2017 10:37 AM EST
    Dear Lee - Well THAT certainly makes my day! I look forward to claiming that Poetry Hug, and will bring along all these good wishes here too. See you SOON!! XO
    - Robyn Black
  11. February 17, 2017 11:02 AM EST
    Wonderful to read such happy news. Love the pic of you two. I know it's going to be a great ceremony -- a well deserved honor. Lee is an inspiration to us all.
    - jama
  12. February 17, 2017 11:07 AM EST
    Thank you for your help in getting Lee the recognition he deserved in the FL Artists Hall of Fame! Please let him know I said hi - and wish it wasn't so far for me to be able to be there.
    - Matt Forrest Esenwine
  13. February 17, 2017 11:40 AM EST
    A lovely tribute, Robyn. So excited for your trip next week! I can feel your anticipation. Enjoy.
    - Doraine Bennett
  14. February 17, 2017 12:13 PM EST
    Safe travels, Robyn and three cheers for Lee! I've never had the privilege of meeting Lee, but his poetry inspires me.
    - Bridget Magee
  15. February 17, 2017 12:49 PM EST
    What a lovely tribute to Lee who has contributed so much to the world of poetry! Have a wonderful time, and give Lee an extra hug for me!
    - Linda
  16. February 17, 2017 1:52 PM EST
    What a celebratory post! Enjoy the trip, and the experience, I'm sure it will be an inspiring gathering!
    - Jane @ Raincity Librarian
  17. February 17, 2017 3:40 PM EST
    Oh what fun you have in store. The tribute to Lee is perfect.
    Can't wait to hear about your adventures when you return.
    - Jone
  18. February 17, 2017 4:37 PM EST
    What a lovely tribute (and you are so clever to adapt Lee's poem in your tribute!)
    - Buffy Silverman
  19. February 17, 2017 4:39 PM EST
    Hi, Jama - inspiration is the perfect word - and well deserved the perfect characterization. :0)

    Will do, Matt - Lee had quite the passionate fan club, for sure. Wish you could be there, too, but we'll send some sun rays up your direction.

    Hi, Doriane! Thanks. It's going to be a terrific time.

    Bridget, thanks for chiming in. (& I'm glad OUR real paths crossed as well as the virtual ones - the way you spread joy is appreciated!)

    Will do, Linda - thanks so much!

    Hi, Jane - I couldn't resist; it's a few hours away on familiar roads, and it's for LEE. :0) Thanks for the kind wishes.

    Thanks, Jone - it will be extra-special catching up with a few Poetry Friday friends, too. We'll know you are there in spirit!

    Howdy, Buffy - thanks. That poem of his wouldn't have it any other way...
    - Robyn Black
  20. February 17, 2017 5:19 PM EST
    Robyn, enjoy every moment! I'm so happy for you to be able to meet a hero and to celebrate Lee's accomplishment. The excitement in this blog post is absolutely infectious. Thank you for the found poem and the adaptation. It's fantastic. Wishing you safe travels and am looking forward to all the deets after next week.
    - Linda Mitchell
  21. February 17, 2017 6:05 PM EST
    Excited for you, Robyn! So extra special how you used Lee's lines to write a tribute to him.
    - Alice Nine
  22. February 17, 2017 7:33 PM EST
    Hi, Linda - Thanks so much! Lee generates lots of poetic electricity, doesn't he? Glad you enjoyed the hum over here today. Appreciations for the good wishes!

    Alice, very kind - thank you! I'm excited to be there for next week's celebrations.
    - Robyn Black
  23. February 17, 2017 7:57 PM EST
    I hope you have a great time. It's wonderful to hear of the event for Lee and for poetry in general!
    - Brenda at friendlyfairytales
  24. February 17, 2017 8:14 PM EST
    So much to love about this post - poetry, friendship, and celebration!
    - Tara
  25. February 17, 2017 8:40 PM EST
    Thanks, Brenda. Always wonderful to celebrate poetry, and a special poet!

    Tara, thanks for coming by. Poetry and friendships make great reasons to celebrate, don't they? :0)
    - Robyn Black
  26. February 18, 2017 8:04 AM EST
    Fill your hug with love from all of us, please!
    - Mary Lee Hahn
  27. February 18, 2017 10:19 AM EST
    Absolutely, Mary Lee! :0)
    - Robyn Black
  28. February 18, 2017 4:13 PM EST
    After 30 years of attending library and writing conferences, you'd think I would have seen Lee at least once (never mind meeting him). Maybe one day soon... I'm sending my congratulations along with you.
    - Diane Mayr
  29. February 18, 2017 5:06 PM EST
    Hi, Diane - That is surprising that your paths haven't crossed in person - yet! Thanks for adding to the appreciative chorus this week.
    - Robyn Black
  30. February 18, 2017 10:41 PM EST
    A well-deserved honor for a much loved poet! Will you share your post with him? He definitely needs to see it!
  31. February 19, 2017 2:01 PM EST
    Thanks for coming by, Carol - Lee left a comment above on Friday. :0)
    - Robyn Black
  32. February 24, 2017 8:21 AM EST
    I love how Lee's poem inspires yours, about him!

    It was neat to sit Side by Side with you Wednesday at the night-before dinner good times.

    Excited for your St. Simon's Island conference this spring, Robyn + all your future projects.
    - Jan/Bookseedstudio
  33. February 24, 2017 11:35 AM EST
    Jan, it was so wonderfully getting to catch up - even if for just a little bit! You always bring such light with you anywhere you go. :0) A creative spring to you, as well....
    - Robyn Black
  34. February 26, 2017 10:20 AM EST
    Congratulations, Lee! And how wonderful that you could be there to support him, Robyn. Lee is a teacher by example and a mentor to many, including me!
    - Laura Shovan
  35. February 26, 2017 6:37 PM EST
    A very special occasion I'll always treasure, Laura - you're right about the sheer number of poets Lee has nurtured and inspired!
    - Robyn Black
  36. August 25, 2017 8:31 AM EDT
    Wonderful tribute to the wonderful Lee! Have a great trip!
    - Penny Parker Klostermann
  37. August 25, 2017 10:04 AM EDT
    It was wonderful, Penny - thanks!
    - Robyn Black

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