word craft



I won’t sug­gest I knew Lee Ben­nett Hop­kins well. Nor was I engaged in his pas­sion, poet­ry. But I did know him for a great many years and con­sid­ered him a friend.

It would have been around 1971 when I first met Lee in an ele­va­tor in the Ran­dom House build­ing. We were going down (prob­a­bly head­ing for lunch) with our respec­tive edi­tors, his, if I recall right­ly, was Janet Ross, my edi­tor was Fabio Cohen.

What Lee and I shared most often over the next many years was his laugh­ter, which was gen­er­ous, and infec­tious. I have no idea what we laughed about, but it was the essence of our get-togeth­ers that inevitably took place at con­fer­ences we were both attend­ing. We would meet in the aisles, and he would quick­ly share some pub­lish­ing gos­sip (which he loved) and then we would laugh.  We would laugh about our­selves, pub­lish­ing, and the world at large.

And almost as often he would pull some­one for­ward, make an intro­duc­tion and say, “you need to know ……….. She, or he, is a fine poet.”

His con­tri­bu­tion to the world of poet­ry for kids was immense.  The num­ber of peo­ple he inspired, encour­aged, and sup­port­ed was legion. He was gen­er­ous, he was impor­tant, and he will be missed.

But what I shall miss is the laughter.

4 thoughts on “Lee”

  1. Avi, I count­ed Lee as a friend. Met him via Rebec­ca Kai Dotl­itch and Rebec­ca Davis at the High­lights Poet­ry Work­shop 2 times (Skype). Thanks to that and oth­er inter­ac­tions online, he invit­ed me to write for the anthol­o­gy that just came out on July 2. He was gra­cious and kind and inspir­ing and he loved to laugh. He made the world brighter in so many many ways. I was gob­s­macked by the news. It is such a loss to many. I appre­ci­ate your mem­o­ry. I was so lucky to be some­one he nur­tured and as a teacher, he saw the teacher in me who fos­tered a love of poet­ry. Two weeks ago or so he sent me a box filled with some of his antholo­gies, all signed, for me to use when I go vis­it schools and bring over 100 poet­ry books for kids to look at and enjoy. I don’t know how to grieve this loss right now. He like so many revered writ­ers who do the hard work that brings sto­ry and poet­ry to the world, will be missed beyond measure.

  2. Oh, no. This was the first I heard of this. Except for the dates, your expe­ri­ence of him match­es mine, Avi. So gen­er­ous of spir­it … and so much laugh­ter! I shall tru­ly miss him.

  3. Every time I was in Lee’s com­pa­ny, I laughed…and laughed…and laughed. He was such fun to be around. He was so sup­port­ive of those of us who love and write chil­dren’s poet­ry. I will miss him. There is no one who can take his place!

  4. Oh, no! My heart is heavy. Farewell to Lee with thanks for all the laugh­ter, lessons, and joy.


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