Thursday, July 19, 2007

Recharging the Batteries #1: Mali's Viral Slam

It's midsummer. A time by which I hope some of the stress of the previous school year has melted in the Western Pennsylvanian humidity of July. A time when I start to shift through all of those piles of "to file." A time when I begin go to a mall and not wince at the sight of teens. A time when I start preparing for next year with some enthusiasm.

Today, I got a boost as I watched slam poetry bard Taylor Mali on YouTube on "What Teachers Make." Almost anyone who's been a teacher more than a year has run into one of dozens of sophomoric spams about how teachers "make a difference." So true perhaps, but so cliche. Yet, Mali's take on the topic entitled, "What Teachers Make, or Objection Overruled, or If things don't work out, you can always go to law school," refreshes the defense.

If Mali's answers are much the same as other similar "make a difference" poems, his ramp up to the answer provides a good context having a lawyer ask the question, and the clever: "I decide to bite my tongue instead of his." Granted, at points Mali's language and gesture may offend some people, but it is these that give the verse (and his delivery) versimilitude and freshness, if not an echo of a few union meeting diatribes. Bottom line: it got to me.

It added to my annual recharging of batteries, and thinking it might do the same for you, I've included the links here. Again, warning: it has content that might be objectionable to some. It's slam poetry after all.
According to Mali, 'turns out that many of those spams I've seen in the past few years are likely to have been the work of plagiarists at the school copier. (Teachers would do that? Nah!) Suffice it to say the original is best and delivered most believably and powerfully by its author. Take a look at what is another viral video for pedagogs. At least if it gets spammed, it will be the genuine article.

The full text of the poem is available at YouTube page, or, better by far (i.e. worth the visit), at

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