In a poetry slam, the judges are usually told that half their score should be for the literary merit of the poem and half for how well the poem is performed. However, that is not what happens in reality. Most of the time, brilliant poems that are performed badly get beaten by bad poems that are performed brilliantly. There is an art to making a poem come alive, and few people can teach that art better than four-time national poetry slam champion (and teacher!) Taylor Mali.
Taylor Mali is one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement and one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series “Def Poetry Jam.” A four-time National Poetry Slam champion, he is the author of four collections of poetry and a chapbook, The Whetting Stone, which won the 2017 Rattle Chapbook Prize. He is the author of the acclaimed nonfiction book, What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World. In April of 2012, Mali donated 12 inches of his hair to the American Cancer Society Mali after convincing 1,000 people to become teachers. He lives in Brooklyn where he curates the Page Meets Stage reading series at the Bowery Poetry Club.