2016 Hopkins Poetry Award winner announced

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book are pleased to announce the winner of the 2016 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award. This year’s winner is “Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir” written by Margarita Engle, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

The award and a $1,000 prize, courtesy of Lee Bennett Hopkins, will be presented at Penn State in the fall.

One judge noted, “Margarita Engle has perfectly crafted a story that is both deeply personal and universal. The strong emotions that she is able to convey with so few words are truly astonishing.” Another said, “In ‘Enchanted Air,’ readers will find verses of rich poetry nestled within a moving and unforgettable memoir.” A third judge remarked, “Engle’s memoir in verse reminds us that verse can be as brief as the breath we draw in and exhale, that enchanted air is the small place between the poet and the reader.”

Additionally, judges gave honor awards to “Hypnotize a Tiger: Poems About Just About Everything” by Calef Brown, published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt BYR (an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group), and “My Seneca Village” by Marilyn Nelson, published by namelos.

The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award is named for the internationally renowned educator, poet, anthologist and passionate advocate of poetry for young people. Established in 1993, the award is presented annually to an American poet or anthologist for the most outstanding new book of poetry for children published in the previous calendar year.

Selected by a panel of authors, librarians, teachers and scholars, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award was the first award of its kind in the United States. The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, the Penn State University Libraries and Lee Bennett Hopkins share joint administration of the annual award.

The judges for this year’s Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award are:

  • Christopher Lassen, chair; youth material selector, BookOps, New York Public Library/Brooklyn Public Library (New York, New York);
  • Cynthia Alaniz, school librarian, Cottonwood Creek Elementary (Coppell, Texas);
  • Kwame Alexander, author, poet and educator (Potomac Falls, Virginia);
  • Paul W. Hankins, ELA teacher, Silver Creek High School (Floyds Knobs, Indiana); and
  • Pamela Michael, director, Center for Environmental Literacy at Saint Mary's College of California, co-founder of River of Words (Clayton, California).

For more information about the Hopkins Award, contact Caroline Wermuth at 814-863-5472, cvw1@psu.edu, or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s Lee Bennett Hopkins Award website.

Last Updated March 11, 2016