SDSU Children's Literature Professor Named Lion & the Unicorn Poetry Award Editor
Associate Professor and children's literature faculty member Joseph Thomas has just finished his seven year term as a founding judge for the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. However, he's not leaving the award behind: although he's bidding adieux to the duties of judge and essayist, he has just been appointed the Lion & Unicorn's first ever Poetry Award Editor, a two year position which will have him rustling up books of poetry to be considered for the prestigious award and helping the current judges wrestle their essay into publishable form. The Lion & Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry has appeared annually in the pages of the L&U since 2005, when Joseph, Richard Flynn, Kelly Hager, and Lissa Paul created the award to fill the gap left by Signal's poetry award. Signal, that much missed journal of children's literature, closed its doors in 2003 with its 100th issue.
Nancy & Aidan Chambers, the founders of Signal and longtime advocates for children's poetry, used their journal to celebrate the best in children's poetry by way of the Signal Poetry Award, which took the form of an annual award essay written by luminaries in the field, both poets and scholars (and those rare creatures, the poet-critic). These essays have been collected in the book Poetry for Children: The Signal Award 1979-2001. Joseph hopes that the L&U Poetry Award lasts at least as long; the creation of the position of Poetry Award Editor signals a renewed commitment to the award, the essay, and to children's poetry in general.