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December 1, 2017

Teen Board Member Rachel D. Interviews Kwame Alexander at the Miami Book Fair, Part 2


While mingling with your favorite authors and seeing all the latest books is awesome enough, imagine doing all of that and more in sunny MiamI! This year, Teen Board Member Rachel D. was on location in balmy Florida for the Miami Book Fair and she was kind enough to report back for us. The highlight of her experience was getting to interview New York Times-bestselling author Kwame Alexander; Rachel also reviewed his most recent book, SOLO, for us when it released. Read part two of their powerful interview below! I think books like SOLO really resonate well, but this one especially perhaps because the protagonist is closer to my age. I also wanted to talk about your community involvement, because you do a lot of presentation in libraries and community centers. What was the trigger to do these kinds of things?

KA: I think my parents. From the time I could remember, I was always attending either a Saturday church function that may have been some sort of theater or storytelling or creative activity. I was always at the community center, whether I was playing basketball or hanging out there during the summers. I was attending book fairs that my father sponsored in schools, so I always had that sort of intimate relationship with a lot of the community center activities that I write about. Those things are important to me; they were important to me as a kid, and they helped shape me. So, I wanted to write about them.

TRC: Why poetic verse? Why poetry?

KA: Rachel, why not?

TRC: I mean, you never see poetry out of the classroom anymore.

KA: Why poetry. Let’s illustrate that.

TRC: (Picking up her cope of SOLO) The ones with folded pages are my favorite!


how your questions

never get answered

in dreams

like you’re a ghost


and trapped

in your own mind.

So that’s 17 words.

TRC: And they’re so powerful

KA: How do you distill life? A poem does that. How do you distill the human soul into 17 words? I love that exercise. I think ultimately it’s going to stay with you and eventually you’re going to fold that page down.

TRC: You got me there!

KA: So that’s why poetry. See how it takes these heavy things, emotionally powerful things, and distills them so that we can handle it. The blank space is there for the journey that you’re going to take spiritual or otherwise as the reader.

TRC: So when the poems are shorter it means you want readers to think about what you’ve written? That’s not how I was reading it at all.

KA: Well, inevitably you were. When you fold the page down that’s what you were doing.

TRC: I thought the language overall was really great. I wish I could think like that; the way you put words to paper, the way you write about life is amazing.

KA: Thank you!

Be on the lookout for Part 3 of Rachel's interview with Kwame Alexander soon!