On February 25th, our Middle School was proud to welcome Brooklyn-based author and educator Taylor Mali to workshop with our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders on performance poetry. The first in our new Writer in Residence program, the daylong event was an inspiration for our budding writers. From choosing meaningful, tangible imagery to adding emphasis with purposeful phrasing and speed, Mr. Mali shared practical tips to help our students make an impact and move the audience.
Say It Loud
When we hear poetry read aloud, what moves us? The story? The author’s style? The speaker's gestures and tone of voice? The answer for most is all of the above. Mr. Mali broke down these elements and more with examples and easy-to-follow exercises to demystify writing and performing poetry. With an approachable demeanor, he instantly connected with each group, convincing even the most reluctant students to share their voices. He encouraged them to take risks, to use significant and concrete experiences to fuel their work, and to support one another along the way. Above all, he stressed the value of having confidence when presenting for any audience.
“Slow down and read louder than you think necessary. When you are reading your writing, there is only one person in the room that is going to think you sound stupid. Do you know who that is? It’s you. The rest of the world is ready to hear your voice. Your words are too good for us not to hear them.” — Taylor Mali
In the grade-level sessions, he talked about writing better rhyming poems, the drafting and editing process, and modeling your work after another poet’s style (with attribution) to learn and practice. These workshops included quiet time for students to apply what they learned to their own writing. By the end of the day, a group of students volunteered to share at school meeting in front of the entire Middle School where Mr. Mali also performed several of his original works. With the expert poet’s encouragement and feedback, they felt more than ready.
Scroll through the photos below from the workshops and performance!
Taylor Mali performing “On Girls Lending Pens.”
Special thanks to Mr. Dean Douglas for sponsoring this new and exciting Writer in Residence program along with his continued support of the Admiral’s Pen Literary Magazine and student coffeehouses.