The Cleave Poetry Webzine [ISSN: 1758-9223]

Oxford Alum and HBO Def Poet Taylor Mali Releases New Book

In announcement on August 7, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Please join us for the book release party of Taylor Mali’s “The Last Time as We Are” on Wednesday, September 9th 8-9:30 p.m. at the Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, (Between Houston and Bleecker). Admission of $8 includes a discount on your purchase of the book. Special guests & rare appearances. For more info please call 212-614-0505 or bowerypoetry.com.

Taylor Mali is one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement. After studying drama at Oxford with members of The Royal Shakespeare Company, Mali was one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series Russel Simmons Presents Def Poetry and was the “Armani-clad villain” of Paul Devlin’s 1997 documentary film SlamNation. He is a vocal advocate of teachers and the nobility of teaching, having himself spent nine years as a teacher. His New Teacher Project has a goal of creating 1,000 new teachers through “poetry, persuasion, and perseverance”. He is the author of two books of poetry, “The Last Time As We Are” (2009) and “What Learning Leaves” (2002), as well as four CDs of spoken word. He received a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant in 2001 to develop Teacher! Teacher! a one-man show about poetry, teaching, and math which won the jury prize for best solo performance at the 2001 Comedy Arts Festival. Formerly president of Poetry Slam, Inc., the non-profit organization that oversees all poetry slams in North America, Taylor Mali makes his living entirely as a spoken-word and voiceover artist these days, traveling around the country performing and teaching workshops as well as doing occasional commercial voiceover work. He has narrated several books on tape, including The Great Fire (for which he won the Golden Earphones Award for children’s narration).

Horace said the “task of the poet is to instruct or entertain,” and it would be difficult to find a poet who more fully embodies this vision than Taylor Mali. In this latest collection, Mali’s work buzzes, hums, snaps and zaps, the tour-de-force of Mali on stage having been properly captured and catalogued on the page. You don’t need a classroom to be a teacher, and you don’t need to be a teacher to help someone learn a lesson. Taylor Mali’s poetry explores this truth in entertaining and plainspoken ways, giving readers “what they need before they knew they needed it” (“Miracle Workers”). The poems contained in “The Last Time As We Are” prove that “He who seeks to teach must never cease to learn.”

Billy Collins, United States Poet Laureate, says, “Not since Taylor Mali, has there been a poet of the likes of Taylor Mali, which is to say he is a man of unique properties. He is tagged as a performance poet, but his performances, rather than being frontal assaults, are leavened by charm and wit and could survive happily on the page.”

Bowery Poetry Club

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