Why Poetry By Lee Bennett Hopkins

Early Life

Lee Bennett Hopkins was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1927. He was particularly inspired by his mother, who read poetry to him at an early age. During his childhood, he developed a love for literature in general and poetry in particular. He also had an affinity for music and art, qualities which were fostered by his mother. By the time he was in high school, he knew that he wanted to pursue a career in the creative arts. As a result, he studied music and literature in his college years.


After graduating, he wrote poetry and music before eventually establishing himself as an acclaimed writer of children’s poetry. His first poem, “The Answer Is Love,” was published when he was just twenty years old. It appeared in the anthology A Gift of Poetry. Later, Hopkins would publish a series of well-received books such as A Song of Love, Feel the Wind, That Bounces, and Poetry Time. He would become the most widely published African American poet.


Lee Bennett Hopkins was inspired by famous literary figures such as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Claude McKay. These authors were known for their ability to capture the rhythm and beauty of African American life in a poetic fashion. Many of Hopkins’ works were written in the same vein. He also took inspiration from his own life experiences. He was a firm believer in celebrating the beauty of the everyday, such as the joy of playing sports and the power of music.

Writing Style

Lee Bennett Hopkins wrote mainly in the standard poetic form. He would often use rhyme and rhythm to create memorable works of art. He employed creative metaphors and vivid imagery to convey a powerful visual of his ideas and feelings. His writing was often focused on nature, friendship, childhood, and the civil rights movement. He was also an advocate for diversity, stating “we must remember to appreciate the beauty of our many-hued world.”


Lee Bennett Hopkins was a highly respected and awarded poet. His works were widely recognized and praised. He received many awards and accolades, including two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Newbery Award from the American Library Association, a Fulbright Award from the National Council of Teachers of English, and a number of honorary doctorates. He was also the recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award for his lifetime achievement.


Lee Bennett Hopkins left a lasting legacy as one of America’s most prolific and celebrated poets. His works continue to be a source of inspiration and joy for readers and are regularly used in classrooms and libraries to teach children about the power of literature. His poem, “Dancing Joy,” is now a major part of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

As an Anthologist

In addition to his work as a writer, Lee Bennett Hopkins was also a noted anthologist and critic. His most acclaimed work is An Invitation to Poetry, a collection of over 150 poems for children and their families. The work won a Newbery Honor Award in 1984. He was also the editor of several other acclaimed collections, such as Jump Back, Honey: A Collection of Black Literature for Children and Something Further: Poems and Poets on Growing Up.


At the core of Lee Bennett Hopkins’ poetry is his celebration of life’s small moments. From running in a field to exploring creativity, he speaks of the joys of everyday life. He also highlights the beauty of diverse cultures and celebrates the strength of unity. His works often contain both social commentary andemotions, which speaks to the importance of empathy and acceptance.

The Promise of Poetry

Lee Bennett Hopkins was a firm believer in the power of poetry. In his last book, he wrote, “Having written and read poetry, children learn that words possess clarity and beauty, that language is a power and a promise–shaping and reshaping the world around them.” His works continue to shape and reshape the world for generations to come.

Linguistic Fluidity

Another hallmark of Lee Bennett Hopkins’ poetry is his use of language. He was able to write in both free verse and in traditional forms such as sonnets, villanelles, and sestinas. He also drew upon a variety of influences, from classical literature to jazz and African American religious hymns. He wrote in both English and Spanish, demonstrating a remarkable level of linguistic versatility.


Lee Bennett Hopkins was more than just a celebrated poet; he was also an educator, a musician, a composer, and an actor. His multi-faceted approach to art and literature gave him the most versatile tool of expression. He was able to capture beauty, convey emotion, and share his unique perspective through his work.

Continuing Influence

The works of Lee Bennett Hopkins continue to influence generations of poets. His commitment to capturing everyday moments, celebrating diversity, and celebrating the beauty of language can be found in the works of contemporary poets such as Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Nikki Giovanni. His influence can be seen in a variety of other art forms, from literature and film to music and visual art.

The Power of Poetry

The power of Lee Bennett Hopkins’ poetry lies in its ability to make the reader feel something. His works are filled with emotion and evocative imagery, enabling readers to connect with the poet on a personal level. His work is a testament to the power of art to transcend boundaries and bring people together. Hopkins wrote: “In the life of an ever-widening circle of people, poetry remains an essential part of our journey.”

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

Leave a Comment