Sadness. Last week, poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins passed away.
I can’t even tell you how many poems he published or how many anthologies he produced. What I can tell you is that he is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most productive anthologist of poetry for children.
Hopkins created his first anthology because he was a teacher. When Langston Hughes, died in 1967, Lee Bennett Hopkins wanted to share Hughes writing with his students. “I was introducing language arts curricula into classroom programs, with an emphasis on poetry, and I realized when Hughes died that I could not share with students his only book for children, The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, published in 1932, due to the art’s stereotypical depiction of blacks.”
Hopkins settled on a solution. He would create a new anthology and thus Don’t You Turn Back: Poems by Langston Hughes was published by Knopf in 1969.
Poet and anthologist, our library has twenty-six of his books. Although I periodically read poetry, I can’t say that I always have his books on my library shelf. Yet, when I got the news that he had died, I had just picked School People up from the library.
While it is sad that he is no longer with us, what a blessing that he was creating both poetry and anthologies for so many years. Why not celebrate his work by checking out one of his books this week? World Make Way is on my hold list. And I realize that I’ve never read Manger. Do I request it now or wait until Christmas when it is seasonally appropriate?
If you have a favorite poem or collection by Hopkins, share it below.