Taylor Mali


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Taylor Mali (born 28 March 1965) is an American slam poet, humorist, teacher, and voiceover artist.
A 10th-generation native of New York City, Taylor Mali graduated from the Collegiate School, a private school for boys, in 1983. He received a B.A. in English from Bowdoin College in 1987 and an M.A. in English/Creative Writing from Kansas State University in 1993. He also studied drama with the Royal Shakespeare Academy at Oxford. One of four children, his mother was children's book author Jane L. Mali, a recipient of the American Book Award, and his father was H. Allen Mali, vice president of Henry W.T. Mali & Co., manufacturers of pool table coverings. He is the great-great-grandson of John Taylor Johnston, founding president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1993, he married Rebecca Ruth Tauber, who died in 2004. On May 13, 2006 he married Marie-Elizabeth Mundheim, a high school friend.
As a slam poetry performer, Taylor Mali has been on seven National Poetry Slam teams; six appeared on the finals stage and four won the competition (1996 with Team Providence; 1997, 2000 and 2002 with Team NYC-Urbana). Mali is the author of What Learning Leaves and the Last Time as We Are (Write Bloody Publishing), has recorded four CDs, and is included in various anthologies. Poets who have influenced him include Billy Collins, Saul Williams, Walt Whitman, Rives, Mary Oliver, and Naomi Shihab Nye. He is perhaps best known for the poem "What Teachers Make."

He appeared in Taylor Mali & Friends Live at the Bowery Poetry Club and the documentaries "SlamNation" (1997) and "Slam Planet" (2006). He was also in the HBO production, "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry," which won a Peabody Award in 2003. Taylor Mali is the former president of Poetry Slam Incorporated, and he has performed with such renowned poets as Billy Collins and Allen Ginsberg. Although he retired from the National Poetry Slam competition in 2005, he still helps curate NYC-Urbana Poetry Series, held weekly at the Bowery Poetry Club.

Taylor Mali at the international school in Stockholm

Poems published in Translatum:

« Last Edit: 13 May, 2011, 11:17:58 by Frederique »
Communicate. Explore potentials. Find solutions.


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Taylor Mali, I Could Be a Poet

I think I could be a poet because I like to wear a lot of black.
And I can think of incongruous images like a Marxist with a trust fund.
A Porsche pulling a U-Haul, a lobsterman in Birkenstocks sipping a cappuccino,
with his pinkie pointing toward the sky.
I have studied the poets who sing song out their lines
for no other reason than that’s how it’s done,
in love with the sound of their own voices,
ending every line going up,
every single line going up,
as they read, and read, and . . . read?
See, declarative sentences that in prose would go down,
in poetry seem to go up
as if it adds some kind of hidden meaning:
I know what I’m talking about and you should too.

And I am not afraid to get pissed off!
I am not afraid to use that one requisite swear word
that let’s you know I am f... serious, man!
And I’m not afraid to

Shout! With anger and intensity! And long, dramatic ….pauses fraught with angst!
And still you can hear the lines going up.
And the words, the vocabulary words—
Thrown in to remind you
“I am a writer! Eat my Verbal dust!”
My PhD., dust,
And then the end
Spoken softly, hauntingly tender,
Though not devoid of irony,
And yet ending abruptly as if there is more . . .

Communicate. Explore potentials. Find solutions.


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