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Kwame Alexander: Why Fathers Cry at Night (ep. 618)

Kwame Alexander

John O’Leary welcomes poet Kwame Alexander on the Live Inspired Podcast with a conversation that will inspire bravery and vulnerability in all of us who has experienced the passion, heartbreak, failure, and joy of love.

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and New York Times bestselling author of 39 books.

Known for his unique style of blending poetry and prose to create engaging and relatable stories for young readers, Kwame has earned countless awards including a Newbery Medal for The Crossover and The Caldecott Medal for The Undefeatedthe two most prestigious honors for children’s authors!

Today, Kwame joins us to share powerful excerpts from his most recent book, an intimate and non-traditional memoir titled Why Fathers Cry at Night. Hear lessons from his journey of learning how to love, how brokenness and beauty can play together as one and what that means in our story.

My friends, this conversation will inspire bravery and vulnerability in all of us who have experienced the passion, heartbreak, failure, and joy of love.

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  • Growing up, Kwame’s parents showed love in different ways. His mother nurtured his creativity and innovation and his father through his love of books.
  • After getting in trouble at school, Kwame’s teacher told his mom that he was arrogant and intimidated other kids with his words. Proud and thankful, Kwame’s mother “knew the power of words and how they could transform a life and then build confidence and help you find your voice.”
  • “At age 54 is the first time I heard him [Kwame’s father] say, I love you.” While writing his latest book, Kwame realized how his father loved and although he may have wanted him to love him in a certain way, he loved him in the way that he knew how.
  • Kwame read his poem “Heavyweight of Fatherhood” which helped them develop a more open, honest, authentic man-to-man relationship as opposed to just father and son.
  • “I hadn’t figured out you need to do the things you have to do in order to do the things you want to do.”
  • “Let’s focus on the triumph and not necessarily the tragedy.” Despite his divorce, their relationship brought – and continues to bring – many things to celebrate.
  • Get a copy of Kwame Alexander’s latest book Why Fathers Cry at Night here.

Did you enjoy hearing from a New York Times bestselling author? 

You’ll love New York Times Bestselling Authors playlist! Hear inspiring conversations with some of the world’s most popular authors including legendary broadcaster Bob Costas, The Five Love Languages’ Dr. Gary Chapman, professional surfer Bethany Hamilton… and more! Find the New York Times bestselling author playlist here.


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  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. I Am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. I was an engaged conversationalist.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. There's a Newbery Medal for The Crossover that's sitting in a glass case.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. My daughters.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. Hands down my father. A couple things he says:
    • Don't surround yourself with people who have less to lose than you do.
    • Always act like you belong to be in the room.
    • This idea of knowing your worth.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Just take the classes. Get them over with.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. He was an honest man who walked around free and spent his life helping people imagine a better world through his words.