We recently did a talk entitled ‘Kamishibai Men’ for 200 teachers at a very nice hotel in Antalya. Half way through this particular talk we show a video of the legendary slam poet Taylor Mali performing ‘What Teachers Make.’ And, as always, the teachers broke out into spontaneous applause.
We’re big fans of Taylor Mali and I wrote to him requesting permission to use one of his poems on this blog and also part of an interview that appears on his website. This is what Taylor says about seeking permission:
‘If you are looking for permission to perform one or more of my poems in forensic competition, consider it granted. You honor me. If you would like to use one of my poems in an educational workshop, lecture, seminar, or other public forum, by all means, you have my blessing. If you are getting married and would like to read one of my poems as part of the service, then I say, “Congratulations!” (You even have my permission to edit my work for the ceremony if you must). The poems are out there, to be used and consumed. Just be sure to credit me and, if possible, include a link to this website.If you would like to incorporate or use my work in some other context, contact me and we’ll talk about it.’
But as it was for a blog I wrote to him anyway, out of respect and, afterall, it’s only polite. The great man replied and said, ‘By all means.’ He then wrote back and said he had a beautiful framed copy that he would send me. Which is why we hold Taylor Mali in such high regard, because not only is he a very fine poet, but he’s also a righteous human being. Taylor Mali we salute you. Enjoy his poem!
Falling in love is like owning a dog
an epithalamion by Taylor Mali
First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you’re walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do in its own defense?
On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.
Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.
Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.
Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose,
not so much to cause pain,
just to let love know Don’t you ever do that again!
Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk.
Because love loves exercise.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting.
It pulls you in several different directions at once,
or winds around and around you
until you’re all wound up and can’t move.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.