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Life on the Deckle Edge

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


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.
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