Slam Poet, Educational Advocate Taylor Mali Comes to Campus

The poet Taylor Mali’s visit to Dublin School on October 12th as part of our Humanities series was an engaging and exciting event. He was able to spend the afternoon on campus, have meals with faculty and students, teach a Master class, and deliver an energizing performance full of what Dublin sophomore Anna Rozier ’14 described as “unnoticed truths behind a veil of humor.”

One of the prominent artists to emerge from the Slam Poetry movement, renowned throughout the country, Mr. Mali came to Dublin through a family connection. He is the cousin of Owen Woods ’12! This added to the delight of the evening, as stories of thirteen-year-old Owen’s “Action Weekend” with his older cousin brought vivid memories to life – and to prove the validity of his tales, Mr. Mali sent us  these wonderful pictures (left)!

In his “master class,” Mali emphasized that the criteria he has for writing a poem is that it be “honest, musical, and artful.” A lover of semantics, he elaborated on the definitions of these words, soliciting the students’ help. For example, they determined that “artful” may mean both beautiful and tricky, thus giving a broad range of possibility for how these criteria work into his poems. Ikea Wadsworth ’14 said: “He taught a lot about his experiences, and showed us bits of his favorite poems. I was able to learn a lot from his teachings, such as using certain lingo/terms can make you seem uneducated. Talking with him was a great experience.” Tyler Jones ’14 added: “The meeting was insightful and taught me a lot about not only poetry but the importance of confidence. He taught that the only thing better then a great piece of poetry is a mediocre piece of poetry recited confidently.”

Jessica Scharf  ’13 said: “Taylor Mali's visit on Wednesday got me questioning things; like, what does it take for one to earn the title 'poet'? Or, to what extent can you stretch poetic license? Taylor Mali is just one ideal example of what I mean. Slam to me is poetry in its rawest, hungriest, and most passionate form. Maybe it's not so much about competing with other people, so much as giving yourself that sense of release. When I write, the weight is lifted off my shoulders and I feel free.”

To any students interested in following in Taylor Mali’s footsteps, Jan will be offering a course titled “The Slam: Writing and Performance” as a Winter Elective.


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