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He will be missed: Lee Bennett Hopkins

By August 9, 2019May 13th, 2021The Kerlan Blog

Lee Bennett Hopkins

Lee Bennett Hopkins died yesterday. Hopkins’ husband, Charles Egita, announced Lee’s passing.

My facebook and twitter feed blew up. I kept it together. I had meetings to go to and deadlines to meet but I was drawn back to the Facebook memorials. The memories being shared.

I’m a slow writer. I read. I think. I read. I take notes. I write. I revise. I read some more. For the last day, I have been thinking of Lee. Thats what I called him. And he called me “Dear One”

And I discovered that is what he called everyone. He made us all feel special.

I didn’t see him much in the last few years. Did he attend ALA a few years back and we sat and had a drink in the lobby of some hotel and talked of the old Bank Street days?

My chest is tight, tears well in my eyes. And I read some more.

What is an obituary? It is a commandment that attention must be paid. To this person, to this life.(I just wiped my eyes and blew my nose) Breathe.

From Nikki Grimes with permission to share:

“Too many hard hits for one week. Now, Lee Bennett Hopkins.

The hard news hit,
a thought bomb
obliterating all reason,
for a moment:
Lee is gone.
Gone as in for always.

Give me a moment, please.
Give yourselves a moment, too.

Now, breathe.”

What is an anthologist?

It is a person who selects writings, usually in the same literary form, by various authors.

So dry.

Steven Herb, Director Emeritus, on behalf of The Pennsylvania Center for the Book called Lee, “the pied piper of poetry”

A dream field trip would be to the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, as they hold Lee’s collection of poetry books and his papers.

I am sure the word “prolific” will be attached to his name and work. That has an almost pejorative connotation. From his website, “There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not reading poetry or working on a poem of my own.”

Much better. A crazy quilt of book covers screen-shotted from Amazon.

Crazy Quilt of covers

The husband just walked into the kitchen where I am writing at the counter. He looked over my shoulder and said, “He sure made poetry cool.” Yup.

For an extensive biography read this one on his website.

The last word from my teacher, mentor, and friend

Lee Bennett Hopkins:


Give me strength to laugh,

the strength to try,

the strength to laugh,

the strength to cry,

the strength to hope,

the strength to cope,

the strength to one day say good-bye,

to fly into a bright sky.”

Not really, my last word. Get one of Lee’s books or one by any poet that you love or don’t know and will discover. Read. Read aloud. Memorize and share.

Lee and I will get you started. May I suggest, Dear One:



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