Q&A With Kwame Alexander

Newbery Award-winning Author Kwame Alexander came to AHS on Oct. 5 as part of his tour promoting his new book, Swing. After his talk, he sat down with The Revolution for an interview. 

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Q&A With Kwame Alexander

Author Kwame Alexander raps while junior Javonyai Burns feels the beat and dances.

Author Kwame Alexander raps while junior Javonyai Burns feels the beat and dances.

Author Kwame Alexander raps while junior Javonyai Burns feels the beat and dances.

Author Kwame Alexander raps while junior Javonyai Burns feels the beat and dances.

Danny Park, Staff Reporter

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Q: How did you get started writing?

Alexander: “Girls. Trying to impress girls. Y’know, I wasn’t, like, the best communicator, but I could write a poem. I found that girls were interested in my own poems. So, in college, I had dates with girls who read my poems. I got married because I wrote poetry. So it started with me trying to be able to express myself with girls.”

 

Q: Who encouraged to to pursue writing? How?

A: “My mother and my father—they were both writers— and my professor in college, Nikki Giovanni. I cannot stress how important it is to have teachers who care about you and what you’re trying to do. I feel like teachers can help you develop into somebody positive and powerful, or they can destroy you.”

 

Q: Can you talk about the 2015 Newbery Medal you received for the book, Crossover? What did this mean for you?

A: “It was my 15th book, and to win a Newbery Medal was the big, defining moment of my professional life. To be able to win a writing award that significant—this meant that my books were going to be available for kids worldwide. It meant that I was going to have a larger audience. So, yeah, It meant the world to me.”

 

Q: Of the books you have written, which is your favorite? Why?

A: “I don’t have a favorite. They’re all like my little children, y’know? But my favorite today is Swing because it just came out last week. So that’s the one that’s my favorite right now.”

 

Q: Can you talk about your new book, Swing? What makes this book different from your previous books?

A: “It’s the hardest book i’ve ever had to write. It’s about jazz music, it’s about baseball, it’s about love, and it’s also about social justice. I’m writing about a topic that is pretty heavy, and i’m trying to do it in a way that changes minds and impacts people in a positive way.”

 

Q: What force has jazz and basketball played in your life?

A: “Basketball—i’m a huge fan of it. I love watching it, but, y’know, I wasn’t that good at it. I think it’s a great metaphor for our lives.”

A: “I love jazz music in the sense that it’s the music I write to. If i’m not writing a book, i’m listening to jazz music. I think jazz… jazz is what brown sugar would sound like if it was sprinkled in your ear.”

 

Q: Is there a goal that you’re working toward? What is it?

A: “Yeah. To make the world a better place. I think everyone should strive to do their part, to be better, to do good, to become more human. Yeah, I think everyone should be about that. I think if we all do that, the world would be a better place. I feel like my purpose in this world is to make the world a better place.”