Mali inspires new poetic perspective

By Jesse Zhang
Published: April 2009

Just testing out the new theme. Don’t get too shocked.

Renowned slam poet and spoken word performing artist Taylor Mali will visit several English classes and hold poetry workshops today at South. Mali performed in the Seasholes Auditorium, worked with an advanced acting class, and held a teacher workshop during his visit yesterday.

“He is going to bring a unique perspective, a lot of energy, and a powerful performance that will make teachers and students think about school in a different way, Principal Brian Salzer said in anticipation of the event.

Salzer, who has viewed one of Mali’s performances online, hoped that both teachers and students would take a fresh look at their school lives and responsibilities as a result of Mali’s visit.

According to English Department head Brian Baron, roughly 160 students will get the benefit of Mali’s expertise.

“It’s a powerful experience for kids, Baron said. “It’s one thing to read someone’s work. It’s another to meet someone in the flesh. Baron hopes that the South community will ultimately walk away with a positive feeling about language and poetry.

“What I like about Taylor Mali is that his poetry is meant to be read out loud, senior and speech team member Mark Galinovsky said. “It looks great on paper, but when performed, it makes an impression on the listener and gets an important point across.

According to Galinovsky, who is practicing several of Mali’s poems for the Speech Team, Mali helped Galinovsky to develop a fondness for poetry.

“I expect that he will appeal to everyone, Galinovsky said. “His performances are a mixture of poetry, acting, and rap, so every audience has something to enjoy.

Librarian Marnie Bolstad first had the idea of inviting Mali to perform at South during National Poetry Month shortly after she found out that her son, a senior at Sharon High School, greatly enjoyed Mali’s performance at his own school over a year ago.

Bolstad worked with former English Department head Francis Moyer in writing a grant in the fall of 2007 and submitting it in the winter of that year. Bolstad contacted Mali’s talent agency to set up dates, and the Newton Schools Foundation in conjunction with the PTSO paid the fee.

“I thought this would be great for the school, Bolstad said. “It’s going to be really busy but I think we are all going to enjoy this a lot. Both students and teachers are going to benefit.

South has never hosted this kind of event in the past, and it may not do so again in the future.

“It’s a tremendous amount of work, Bolstad said. “And the economy’s state may hinder [similar future events].

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