by Maddie Katz
Former teacher turned slam poet Taylor Mali will be joining the Westfield community for several events on June 6 as part of the Visiting Poet Series. This series is an annual event sponsored by the PTSO and is free for audiences.
During the day, Mali will hold a workshop for students and at 7 p.m., he will be in the auditorium to read his poems to the general public.
Said English Teacher Mr. John Cheddar, “The Visiting Poet Series allows us to continue to nurture the love for poetry that our students possess, as well as plant the seed for those who have never been exposed to poetry off the page.”
Mali has written two books, The Last Time As We Are and What Learning Leaves, and has published four spoken CDs.
According to slampoetry.com, slam poetry is a type of art in which poets recite their original works for competitive purposes.This generation of spoken word poetry is often highly politicized and draws upon racial, economic and gender injustices as well as current events for subject matter, according to poets.org.
Mali said that he has experienced a lot in his life since his first job doing voice-over work for television. Since then, he has worked as a teacher and is currently spending his time working on his poetry.
Mali described himself as “the former voice of all Burger King commercials and a true advocate for teachers,” according totaylormali.com.
Mali recently created the “New Teacher Project,” in which he wanted to inspire 1,000 people to become teachers. This is also known as the “Quest for 1,000 Teachers.” The results are posted on taylormali.com.
Many teachers may relate to his poem, “What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World.” This poem doesn’t focus on the money made, but rather the impact a teacher can have on his or her students.
According to taylormali.com, 1 of the 1,000 teachers inspired by Mali’s project said, “Because of Taylor Mali, I will make a difference in the lives of children.”
According to blueflowerarts.com, “[Mali’s] hope is to focus on education through poetry, persuasion and perseverance.”Previous poets in the series included Matthew Dickman and Pulitzer Prize Winner Philip Schultz.
Language Arts Supervisor Mr. Tim Harrison said: “The Visiting Poet Series exposes WHS students to a renowned poet each spring. While poetry is an integral part of the English curriculum, nothing can replicate the opportunity to experience poetry live.”
According to Cheddar: “As teachers it is our duty to prepare our students for their future education, as well as to nurture life-long learners. I can think of no better way to instill students with an enriching experience in the language arts than to allow them a chance to hear poetry from the voice of its creator or to work with a poet in a workshop setting.”