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The Poetry of Growing Up: Award-Winning Author ALICIA D. WILLIAMS Talks Black Boyhood, Masculinity, Parenting and Creativity in Her New Novel in Verse, MID-AIR



When we think of masculinity, particularly in young Black boys, society has painted a very specific, often limiting picture. But what happens when we challenge those stereotypes, when we acknowledge the vulnerability, the gentleness, and the full emotional spectrum that boys experience? This is precisely the conversation that unfolds in a captivating episode of the Adventures in Learning podcast, featuring Alicia D. Williams, the author of Mid-Air.




In this heartwarming episode, we delve into the delicate emotional journey that Black boys navigate—a journey that is rich with complexity and, sadly, one that society often misunderstands. The character of Isaiah, the protagonist of Alicia's Mid-Air, is the vessel through which these themes are explored. Isaiah is not your typical portrayal of a young Black boy. He is sensitive, enjoys rock music, and has a fascination with plant life, traits that defy the narrow confines of traditional masculinity.


The conversation peels back layers of innocence, grief, and identity, topics that resonate deeply with both Alicia and myself. We discuss how parents strive to protect their children while also preparing them to face a world that may not always be kind or just. The book brings to light the intricate balance between protectiveness and vulnerability that every parent navigates, with Alicia sharing insights from her own experiences as a mother and educator.


One of the episode's highlights is the exploration of the evolving dynamics between fathers and sons. The discussion acknowledges a cultural shift towards emotional openness within families, which is heartening and revolutionary. It is a shift that promises to break cycles of toxic masculinity, allowing boys to grow into men who are not just strong but also emotionally intelligent and empathetic.


Additionally, this episode touches on the transformative power of poetry, particularly for young readers. Alicia and I discuss the potential of novels in verse to inspire a new generation of poets and storytellers. Alicia's own journey with poetry, from intimidation to embracing it as an accessible form, provides hope that the arts can indeed play a significant role in shaping young minds.


Throughout the episode, transcript excerpts offer a taste of the profound discussions between Alicia and myself. In one poignant passage, Alicia reads from Mid-Air, capturing the tension between a boy's interests and societal expectations. It is a powerful reminder of the need for change in how we raise and view our young boys.


This episode is a must-listen for parents, educators, and anyone interested in understanding and supporting the emotional well-being of young Black boys. It's a dialogue that challenges us to rethink our perceptions, to embrace vulnerability, and to celebrate the diverse tapestry of Black boyhood. Alicia D. Williams' Mid-Air is more than just a book; it's a catalyst for much-needed conversations about race, identity, and growing up.


So, if you haven't already, rush out—or, more aptly, click through—to preorder Mid-Air. Then, tune into this profound episode of Adventures in Learning for an enlightening and transformative discussion that will surely leave a lasting impact.


Bonus: If you want to learn more about the amazing Alicia D. Williams, check out our initial Adventures in Learning podcast episode, where we get to know her and talk about The Talk and Genesis Begins Again.




You can download, subscribe, and comment on the podcast wherever you listen.






You can also watch the full podcast interview on YouTube.









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