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.