Sometimes I get an email that just arc-welds a smile on my face for a couple hours. Such a thing occurred last night while I was waiting for the bus in the snow.
On March 26th, the Michigan Education Reform Club (MERC) is hosting an education-themed poetry slam entitled Yes! This Will Be on the Test: An Open-Mic Tribute to Education. It turns out that several of the organizers were my students last fall, when I taught a course in geometry for future teachers. They remembered all the times I talked with enthusiasm about math and poetry and education, and are inviting me to put my money where my mouth is. Or, more precisely, to put my mouth where my mouth said it would be. But with rhythm. What fills me with glee is that someone thought “Education? Poetry slam? Let’s ask Dr. Cap!” Hard not to love that when at least someone does free-association on education / poetry, I pop up.
Have I ever done anything even remotely resembling a poetry slam? Emphatic no!
Am I accepting the invitation? Emphatic yes!
(For anyone in the Ann Arbor area who may be interested in attending, I’ll provide more information as I receive it.)
Now, when I think the words “poetry slam” and “education”, there is only one name that comes to mind: Taylor Mali. If you’ve never heard of Taylor Mali, he is a legendary educator, poet, and spoken word artist. (If you are an educator or you get a lot of email forwards from an educator, you may have read his poem “What Teachers Make”, which is either a cult classic or cyberspam depending who you ask.) If you’re saying now “Who’s Taylor Mali?”, you should really read his answer to that question or just nose around his site a bit (linked above), where you’ll find a raft of texts.
Fortunately for you all, it turns out that there are quite a few spectacular performances by Taylor Mali on youtube. These five are my favorites.
- If you’ve never heard it before, here’s Mali performing “What Teachers Make”
- “How to Write a Political Poem” (this happens to be the first Taylor Mali poem I ever heard, the reason I sought out the rest)
- “Totally Like Whatever” (he has a real point here)
- “Undivided Attention”
- “Tony Steinbeck: Brave Seventh-Grade Viking Warrior”