Grimes' 'One Last Word' named 2018 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award winner

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book have announced the 2018 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, presented annually to an American poet or anthologist for the most outstanding new book of poetry for children published in the previous calendar year. This year’s winner is “One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance,” written by Nikki Grimes and published in 2017 by Bloomsbury.

In “One Last Word,” Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using “The Golden Shovel” poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking. The book features art by Grimes and Cozbi Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, E.B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon.

Grimes will accept the award and the $1,000 prize, courtesy of Lee Bennett Hopkins, on July 12, near Penn State’s University Park campus.

“One hundred years from now readers will be enjoying “‘One Last Word,’” the judges wrote. “Grimes’ work showcases not only a lesser-known poetic form (the Golden Shovel) but the poets of the Harlem Renaissance and the work of African-American artists.”

Nikki Grimes

Nikki Grimes

Image: Aaron Lemen

“Grimes not only celebrates the poets and poems of a time gone by, but builds on those works, transforming them into new and powerful poems that will resonate with a new and powerful generation of young people,” the judges also wrote. “‘One Last Word’ connects the struggles and challenges in our world today with the struggles and challenges of the past. ‘The past,’ as Grimes writes in the final poem of the book, ‘is a ladder that can help you keep climbing.’ Young people will return to this book again and again for inspiration, consolation, and, above all, hope.”

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 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, which is selected by a panel of authors, librarians, teachers and scholars. 

The 2018 judges for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award were Libby Snyder, Chair, teacher-librarian, State College, Pennsylvania; Barbara Chatton, professor, Laramie, Wyoming; Irene Latham, poet, Birmingham, Alabama; Ed Spicer, Allegan, Michigan; and Jorge Argueta, poet and winner of the 2017 Lee Bennett Hopkins Award, San Salvador, El Salvador/San Francisco, California.

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book established in 1977 at the Library of Congress, encourages Pennsylvania’s citizens and residents to study, honor, celebrate and promote books, reading, libraries and literacy. In addition to the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, it also administers the Public Poetry Project, the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel PrizePoems from LifeLetters about LiteratureA Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy; and the interactive Literary & Cultural Heritage Map of Pennsylvania.

For more information about the Hopkins Award, contact Caroline Wermuth at or 814-863-5472, or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book website.

Last Updated February 21, 2018