Mahogany L. Browne is the author of multiple books of poetry, including Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice, Woke Baby, and Black Girl Magic, in addition to her position as poetry coordinator at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York. Her YA novel-in-verse, Chlorine Sky, is a coming-of-age story that examines the doubt and insecurity at the heart of a friendship, and how the sadness of growing apart can give way to powerful self-discovery and self-acceptance.

In this interview, Browne discusses her initially discouraging experiences with poetry in high school, and how, after returning to it several years later, she considers it “the nucleus of [her] entire existence.” She talks about deciding on a novel-in-verse as the form for her first YA book and the importance of investigating topics such as mass incarceration, childhood in single-parent households, sibling rivalries, and more. Her advice for young people reluctant to write for any reason: Do it anyway, in spite of doubt or hesitancy.

From the Kirkus review of Chlorine Sky: “Through a process of self-discovery and by listening to the stories of girls around her, Skyy learns to stand in her truth and determine what she’s worth. Writing in free verse, Browne explores concepts that will resonate with readers navigating toxic friendships and budding relationships and growing into themselves.…A coming-of-age novel for Black girls who have been told they’re too much and yet never enough.”