This week, we turn our eye to the world of verse and talk poetry with Kwame Alexander. Alexander won the Newbery Medal for The Crossover, which combines free verse and hip-hop poetry to tell a story of family, brotherhood, basketball, and rhymes. He followed that up with Booked, which takes a similar poetic approach to a reluctant reader with a love of soccer.
Alexander also contributed his poetry to Animal Ark, a gorgeous new picture book that combines his poetry with the photographs of Joel Sartore. Sartore is working with National Geographic on the Photo Ark project, a multiyear effort to document every species in captivity. His photos present each species on either a plain black or white background and show them to be roughly the same size. In other words, a rhino is given the same treatment as a butterfly. There’s a companion book for that project here.
But we’re here today to talk about Kwame Alexander and his contributions. We chat with Alexander about Animal Ark, his creative approach to poetry, bending genres, his book Out of Wonder, how poetry can save the world, and how we can use words to understand the world. Oh, and we might also geek out about Hamilton a bit.