On this episode of “Literary Arts: The Archive Project,” we feature multi-genre bestselling poet and author of thirty-eight books, Kwame Alexander, who discusses his memoir, “Why Fathers Cry at Night” with James Beard award-winning chef of Portland’s Kann, and author of the cookbook “Everybody’s Table,” Gregory Gourdet. Their conversation was recorded at Powell’s Books in downtown Portland.
Alexander is best-known for his children’s books, including “The Door of No Return” and “The Crossover,” which was recently made into a TV series. Last month he published a memoir, “Why Fathers Cry at Night: A Memoir in Love Poems, Letters, Recipes, and Remembrances.” Alexander said that he started the book as love poems for his daughters, not knowing it would become the memoir and a mix of poetry, prose, recipes, and more as he explored his past and his present.
The conversation is remarkably open and honest, as Alexander shares stories ranging from learning to cook his mother’s fried chicken—an especially challenging project while living in buttermilk-less London—in order to connect not only with his late mother but with his daughter; growing up with a strict, book-loving father and how that affected his relationship to books and literature; and actively working to become a better father, partner, and friend by pushing himself to be more vulnerable with the people in his life. Although the word “father” is in the title, the book and the conversation touch on all kinds of friend and family relationships, beyond father-child.
Kwame Alexander is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books, including his Newbery Medal-winning novel “The Crossover” and “The Undefeated,” winner of the Caldecott Medal and Newbery Honor. He is the founding editor of Versify, which aims to change the world one word at a time.
Gregory Gourdet is a celebrated chef, best-selling author, and television personality. He is best known for his award-winning cuisine, bevy of TV appearances, and trendsetting role in the culinary boom of Portland. Gregory ran the kitchen at Portland’s Departure Restaurant + Lounge for 10 years, leaving in 2019 to focus on opening Kann. He was named “Chef of the Year” by both Eater Portland and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, and is a James Beard Award nominee and two-time Bravo Top Chef finalist. In 2021, Gregory released his first cookbook, “Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health,” which was a national bestseller and won the James Beard Award for Best General Cookbook.