Meet Quraysh Ali Lansana

Another addition to our series! We've been asking the authors and illustrators of our current and upcoming titles about their favorite childhood books . . . and as a bonus we asked for photos of them as kids! Reacquaint yourself with Quraysh, then and now (with his best friend, Russ, in a 6th grade photo):

Quraysh has taught in elementary schools, high schools, and universities in Chicago, where he lives, and across the country. Known by many as Q, he has written eight poetry books, three textbooks, three children's books, and has co-written a book designed to help teachers teach poetry. Q has also edited eight anthologies of literature, most recently The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop (2015). He has several books forthcoming, two of which center around the poet Gwendolyn Brooks, who was his mentor. Check out a more in-depth profile at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/quraysh-ali-lansana.

About his favorite childhood books, Q writes, “I am the youngest of six, with 12 years between my oldest sibling and me, and four years separating the sibling closest in age. I spent much time in aloneness, a silence only tainted by television, the low hum of domestic violence, or Mama calling from work to check on me. I read a great deal of books.

The Enid Public Library was refuge and dream space.

My best friend Russ Hutchison and I spent every Saturday in the library for six years. All day, from opening to closing time. We loved The Great Brain series by John Dennis Fitzgerald. The escapades of T.D., the conniving and brilliant middle brother in the Fitzgerald family, always set our minds on fire. We likely even tried a 'Great Brain' trick or two on my unsuspecting younger cousins.”