Poetry News

Kwame Alexander Returns to Poetry

By Harriet Staff

After taking a break from poetry, Kwame Alexander returns to our favorite literary genre's throws with a new anthology called Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, inspired by his, Chris Colderley's, and Marjory Wentworth's 20 favorite poets. Another recent project, Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures, pairs Alexander's poetry with photography by Joel Sartore. At Publishers Weekly, he chats with Nikki Grimes about these latest developments:

Nikki Grimes: As I read your new book [The Playbook], I found myself wondering if writing is not your true vocation, but is in fact the vehicle through which your purest vocation manifests, and that is to inspire. That said, what gave you the idea for The Playbook?

Kwame Alexander: And so the conversation begins with Kwame blushing. First of all, thank you for the kind words. I suppose you’re right. I’ve always been good at reading people, and listening to people, and investing myself wholly and solely in my interaction with them. I guess you can call it charm. It made people feel acknowledged and significant. And it made me feel good, too. Earlier in my life, it was a great way to get a date. Or a job. As I got older, I began to realize that encouraging others felt really good, and I liked that feeling. The impetus for The Playbook was my desire to take ownership of that part of me that wants to encourage others, to use my charm as a way to empower young people in an intentional way. As for writing, I believe that if you want to have something authentic and powerful to write about, you have to live an authentic, empowering life. I learned that from my parents, from my mentors like Nikki Giovanni, from writers, in particular black writers, who always believed that writing is just a tool to carve out our dreams. Isn’t that what the Harlem Renaissance writers you paid tribute to in One Last Word believed?

Continue reading at Publishers Weekly.

Originally Published: February 24th, 2017