I must confess, I have a new crush. He’s a poet. He used to be a teacher. Now, according to his website, he is a “vocal advocate of teachers and the nobility of teaching.” He was the Friday morning keynote speaker at the Write to Learn Conference in Missouri last weekend.
Several years ago a friend wrote on her blog that she was going to a club to see the poet Taylor Mali. I had no clue who that was. I looked him up and discovered the You Tube of him reciting “What Teachers Make.” I loved it! I was hooked, but did not explore his work any further. That one piece was enough to satisfy me, then.
When it was announced that Taylor Mali would be at the conference this year, I knew I wanted to go. Perhaps he’d do “What Teachers Make” for us, I thought. I was right, he did do that poem but oh, so much more!
He begins speaking. You think he’s chatting, but then all of a sudden you realize this is a poem. There’s beauty in that. Students need to hear him, to know that poetry doesn’t need to rhyme at the end of the line. Poetry allows your voice passion.
He read poems from the manuscript of his newest book of poetry. I will own that book. The book is titled Late Father. He said it refers to his late father but also he became a father late in life. He now has a toddler son. He spoke so quickly I could only grasp a few words at a time.
I jotted impressions as he spoke. The room, of over a thousand educators, sat silent as he pondered what poem would be next. Only an occasional cough could be heard during the few moments between pieces. His poems touched my heart, brought me to tears, and ignited a fire for his poetry.
A standing ovation of cheering educators ended the keynote that opened the conference. I turned to my friend, “What did you think?” I asked. “It was about thirty minutes too long for me,” she replied. “Really? I could have listened for another hour,” was my response.
Two people listened to the same talk. Two totally different responses. Something to think about.