Scott Bourne has worn a myriad of hats in his lifetime: professional skateboarder, magazine columnist, skate company owner, writer, poet, model—and he can now add author of children’s books to that growing list. His new project, An Act of Imagination, is a collection of poetry for kids, with illustrations by Todd Bratrud, a titan in the world of skate graphics. I hit Scott up for a quick six-pack to get the scoop on this latest endeavor. 

Michael Sieben: An Act of Imagination clearly draws inspiration from Shel Silverstein. Did you grow up on his books, and have you read them to your children?
Scott Bourne: Yes, yes, and yes one more time! For me, Shel brought poetry; he introduced me to poetry. Before Shel, there was no such thing as poetry for children. Poetry was totally and completely adult stuff. 

I love Todd Bratrud’s work and it pairs very nicely with your words. Were the two of you friends from the Consolidated Skateboards days?
Yes, we met at Consolidated and worked on board graphics together. For several years now, we’ve also worked on projects that incorporate my words with his drawings, but, oddly enough, this is the first book project we have actually completed. We have a half-illustrated longform poem I would really like to see finished that hits so close to the world we are in now, but it’s certainly not for children.

What do you think is missing in the landscape of children’s literature today?
Content! You have this incredible canvas and it’s been turned into screenscapes, algorithms, and statistical discharge to keep you tuned in your entire life. Reading is sacred and no one should everknow what you are reading, much less what you are reading to your child. If you read or buy books online, you are playing into the algorithms that will follow you your entire life.

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Do you think at some point there will be a tech backlash and people will crave tangible items such as books over screens, or do you think the war is won?
There will be a backlash, for sure. Technology, for all its convenience, has stolen all the romance from people’s lives, plain and simple. We need the unknown to have romance, and technology has turned us into an epoch without surprises. It’s painful. As far as art goes, we are certainly living in a sort of anti-renaissance sort of era. Their message is share or follow. Our message is create and lead.

As a father, do you have any advice for new parents out there?
Absolutely not. Parents begin with an inner connection that no one could ever know—a private genetic map to the treasures of their child. No other person can access that map. The trick is to follow it wherever it may take you, regardless of what others may think.

Is there an overall message you wish to instill in children with your poetry?
The message is absolutely clear from the very first poem to the last, and that message is to just create—build a book, paint a picture, write a poem, be who you are, or you will end up being something you are not. Now, more than ever, the world needs individuals. We are looking for the magic, looking for little people who still see it, still believe in it, and are casting their own spells.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2021 Quarterly