Award-Winning Slam Poet Taylor Mali at Greylock

On Thursday, April 7, four-time National Poetry Slam winner Taylor Mali held a workshop with students during block nine, followed by two presentations during blocks five and seven. Today marked the third time the published author came to Mt. Greylock, where he both presented his own poems for students and helped students construct their own. During his workshop, Mali handed out a sheet that exemplified the ways he thought students could improve their writing, such as being specific and taking risks. Students wrote poems based on Ted Kooser’s “Abandoned Farmhouse” while Mali gave advice. Determined to learn everyone’s names, Mali had several students read aloud parts of their poems, praising well constructed lines and good diction. Afterwards, Mali presented some of his poems for students during block five, reading several poems from across many of his books, including his famous “What Teachers Make”. While speaking, Mali managed to be both a powerful yet casual presence, laughing off his mistakes and calling out students he met during his workshop. Mali constantly moved around, keeping his poems animated and entertaining. He then gave a similar performance to the ninth grade class in the auditorium, with a few minor tweaks in explicit content. Mali encouraged student participation, which gave the talk an intimate atmosphere. With his experience as a teacher, Mali gave students a new perspective on how teachers think, giving students new insight on the institution of teaching. “I absolutely loved [the workshop]” said senior Ian Culnane, “He was so funny and charismatic, I can understand how good he was as a teacher”.

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