Honoring Lee

The world of children’s poetry lost a legend a couple of weeks ago. Lee Bennett Hopkins, author of 120 books and anthologies, poet extraordinaire, and champion of children’s poetry and children’s poets, passed away on August 8.

How does one remember such a man? Jone MacCulloch suggested that we find inspiration in a line of his poetry. Yep–rereading Lee’s wonderful work and creating new poems inspired by them is indeed the perfect tribute, one that I imagine would make Lee smile. You’ll find a list of all the poetry tributes to Lee at The Poem Farm, where Amy is hosting Poetry Friday. And look for links on Twitter marked #DearOneLBH (I recently joined Twitter, and plan to get in the habit of tweeting one of these days.)

I wrote about one of my favorite LBH anthologies, Spectacular Science, when the Poetry Friday community celebrated Lee’s 80th birthday–and included a poem inspired by that anthology. So I went searching for another poem of Lee’s to feature today. I chose “Spring,” from a book that was new to me–Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems.

I love the specificity of the first stanza of this poem, and how it puts the reader right in the middle of spring growth. I quickly wrote a draft using those four words as a beginning–but then started dithering about one word. After writing a list of about 30 different options, I came away with two versions that I thought worked reasonably well.

How to choose which to post? One is more specific to the natural cycle of seeds; the other tells what could be the seed of many stories. Hmmm… after more dithering I remembered that this is my blog–I can post them both!

Seed Story

Some spring purple, for Lee.

Roots
sprouts
buds
flowers

anchor
grow
seconds
hours

ripen
harden
burst
fling

float
spin
hide til
spring.
–Buffy Silverman, 2019

Or…Version Two!

Seed Story

Roots
sprouts
buds
flowers

anchor
grow
seconds  
hours

ripen
harden
burst
sail   

float
spin
untold
tale.
–Buffy Silverman, 2019

I hope I’ve captured some of the joy of Lee’s “Spring.” I know his poems will bring joy and inspiration for years to come.

36 thoughts on “Honoring Lee

  1. I’m thinking both too–together! I do love the untold tale for its little mystery, and the whole tale of Lee’s influence is yet to be told–so I like that spin on it too. Thank you for this polite grab of a Lee-line!

  2. I can’t decide which I like better, either. Both make me glad and make me think. I’m glad you shared both versions!

  3. I’m glad you shared both versions! I can’t decide which I like better, either. Both make me glad and make me think.

  4. Both poems. And an extra helping of dithering…the perfect word for the teacher at the end of the first full week of school who didn’t have any time to write but really really wanted to join the party and almost didn’t because she found a cartoon and not a poem and not a line from LBH…I love the word dithering. I may write a poem about it.

  5. Buffy, you planted many seeds with all your dithering. I am partial to Seed Story for its flow and the last line. We have spun many stories here today, all beautiful tributes to Lee. If you are content with your words, I would like to add this poem to my Spring Splendor Gallery. I have fallen behind this year with many interruptions but I do intend to unveil the galleries when I have time to finish the design. Let me know.

  6. Like others, I like both! As a story-girl, I’m drawn to the second version. If you do submit this–I’d love to know how your dithering changes or keeps the version you choose. My sense of Lee’s work in his own poems and anthologies is that he found brilliance in the short, sweet punch of language. And, these both have that in spades!

    1. Thanks, Linda. I think a whole lot more dithering would be involved before submitting…. and probably I would feel too funny about using someone else’s first stanza and then submitting? Not sure how others feel about that, but think I would need to change those words. And I like them!

  7. Good for you for posting both options, Buffy. (Besides, I would hate for all that dithering to be for naught.) Both are lovely tributes to Lee and an interesting lesson for us all to see how different the two poems come across just by replacing a couple of words!

  8. I’m glad you posted both, Buffy. Lee loved all kinds of poems as we all know, so looking at seeds in different ways would please him very much. I do love poems with one-word lines & yours are wonderful. Thank you!

  9. Lovely. I got to spend the greater part of an afternoon with Lee at an SCBWI conference in Florida. And met his partner Charles. They were so nice to me. Just chatting, it felt like they were old friends from way back. S.

    1. Oooh. I like both just the same methinks! Seeds are mysterious and strong, and the poems you wrote make me think about the seeds that are yet to grow from Lee’s influence on so many. Happy Poetry Friday – see you on Twitter! xx

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