I was first exposed to slam poet, Taylor Mali, when I saw a viral video of him performing “What Teachers Make,”which remains one of my favorite performance pieces. If you haven’t seen it, you need to as soon as possible. Mali is an extremely talented performer; winner of the National Poetry Slam four times over, recipient of countless regional awards, and anthologized in three collections of spoken word poetry. His passionate platform is education—drawn from the nine years he spent as a teacher in a classroom. I have the utmost respect for our teachers, but especially those that have so much passion and talent.
What makes him all the more enjoyable as a poet and teacher is his profound knowledge of the growing mind of children and their curiosity and wonderment at the world. I read “Undivided Attention” today, which, after watching his performance poetry, illustrates Mali’s ability to switch from passionate and powerful to reflective and thoughtful.