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Inspiration flows with Kwame Alexander

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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter

On March 8, Medfield Public Schools and the Medfield Public Library closed for the day after the month’s second nor’easter brought wet, heavy snow and powerful winds.

Even with power outages and fallen tree limbs and wires afflicting the town, Medfield Public Schools’ library media specialist, Kerry Cowell, and Medfield Public Library’s director, Meena Jain, would not let seven weeks of tireless planning go to waste.

With the support of the community, they welcomed poet and children’s fiction author Kwame Alexander to Blake Middle School’s auditorium. In the form of a Q&A, the New York Times Bestseller spoke about the beginning of his writing career and discussed his literacy initiative called Literacy Empowerment Action Project (LEAP) for Ghana.

Kwame Alexander invites one of Medfield’s students to read with him on stage.  Photos by Laura Drinan

Kwame Alexander invites one of Medfield’s students to read with him on stage. Photos by Laura Drinan

Children in the audience asked Kwame about how long it took him to write his books. “The Crossover,” he explained, took him five years to write, while his picture book, “Surf’s Up,” took a mere week to write.

Kwame’s first book was a collection of love poems he wrote for his now-wife, and he recited one from memory for the audience. Now the author of over a dozen books, Kwame is releasing another novel on April 2 called “Rebound.”

He was not always interested in books, however. In fact, he hated them as a child.

He revealed to the audience that his parents were writers and professors of literature, and he grew up reading his father’s dissertations. In college, though, Kwame began writing poetry and found his niche in the writing community.

One child wondered how Kwame gets his inspiration to write.

“I get my inspiration from reading a lot and form being a willing participant in life,” Kwame said. “I like to just look around me and see what’s going on. I’m very into what is happening in my surroundings, and I get inspired by all the children I meet in schools.”

The inspiration was reciprocal, though. Outside of the auditorium was an art installation by the K through 12 art department. It featured a sun with Kwame’s quote, “Always shoot for the sun and you will shine,” and dozens of yellow and orange triangles placed around it to represent rays of sunshine. On the cutouts, students wrote words and quotes that motivated them.

With a book signing to follow the question and answer with Kwame, members of the community were thrilled to have been given the opportunity to share a captivating evening with one of the nation’s most beloved contemporary children’s authors.

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