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Author Kwame Alexander Explores Complex Issues Through Sports Poetry

Author Kwame Alexander with a copy of his book.

There are plenty of issues confronting sports in this country, but there is still a lot of beauty in the games we play at the amateur, collegiate and pro level. Author KwameAlexander would say that it’s poetry.

Two of his most recent novels for middle grade readers are hip-hop verse poems about sports. Booked is his most recent. It tells the story of Nick Hall, a young soccer player and reluctant wordsmith whose family life may or may not be falling apart. It builds on the success of Alexander’s 2014 Newbery Award winner, The Crossover, which had basketball at its heart. 

"You're taking these really heavy, emotional topics and themes and you're filtering them through this lens of this art form that uses very few words, has so much white space, uses rhythm and heart and passion and energy and movement to make these things palatable; to make them digestible for us. And I think that's a comforting thing," he says. 

Alexander travels to schools throughout the country to talk with students about his books and the art of poetry. He believes poetry can be used as an outlet for kids experiencing complex problems, and can instill a love of learning in young students.

"You show me a kid who knows the dictionary; you show me a kid who uses words like pulchritudinous; you show me that kid who loves reading and I'll show you a kid who's headed down the right path, 99.9% of the time," he says.

Kwame Alexander will be in Milwaukee to talk about Booked at Boswell Book Company this Sunday, April 17.