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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it leaves me flabbergasted, September 23, 2008
This review is from: What Learning Leaves (Paperback)
I find it rather difficult to adequately describe Taylor Mali's book, What Learning Leaves. How can a reader poetically describe a poet? I'm not sure one can, so I'll leave the poetical language to Mr. Mali.

I recently learned about the Poetry Slam scene, and it has fascinated me. The power of the spoken word ignites within me a fire that is unquenched by mere penmanship, and I'm sure you would be the same after you hear a poet slam a poem out. Taylor Mali is one of the best, and simply reading his work gives me a whole new respect for him.

The theme of the majority of his poems is education, which include What Teachers Make, Like Lilly Like Wilson, and First Day of School. But he also explores love, grief, and everydayness. While these are different for me, because I've only heard/seen his educational related poems, they still have a tone of authority that demands one see that there is something in these things to be learned as well. It's really beautiful.

While Mali is primarily known as a performance poet, he shows off his superb writing skills, as well as uncanny wit, in some of the poems included in this collection. These include On the removal of the antonym section, Poet teaching Math and History, and The the impotence of proofreading. All of these are hilarious even if you never hear Mali perform them. (I always enjoy watching people laugh while reading because I'm sure somewhere somebody who sticks to the "dumb box" is upset that they cannot have the same pleasure)

I would recommend this book to anybody. It will open them up to poetry in general, as well as the Slam Poetry scene. And, personally, I think it's time we place a little more importance on the arts. When a person can inform, educate, and entertain in the way that Mali does people will listen and be in awe. Although, I will say that I am a bit biased, I majored in Literature so I see the complexity of his poems on paper and as they are performed by him, but anybody can appreciate the these poems collected in this work. What you learn from Taylor Mali will leave you flabbergasted.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taylor Mali's Greatest Hits, July 6, 2007
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This review is from: What Learning Leaves (Paperback)
This book collects the high points from the career of performance poet Taylor Mali. All his classics are here: What Teachers Make, Like Lilly Like Wilson, Playing Scrabble With Eddie. Many of his other poems in this book have a narrower audience, but are probably already well known if you consciously follow the performance poetry scene. This volume was published in 2002, so more recent show-stoppers like How to Write a Political Poem aren't in here; however, the poems that made his name in the 1990's are pretty much all here.

The largest section of this book is comprised of poems on teaching. These are the books that made Mali famous, of course. But there is also a section of surprisingly touching love poems and a section on loss and grief. Because these poems mostly lack his trademark goofy wit, they lack the legendary following of his most famous poems, but they arguably translate better to the page, and reflect a lesser known side of the renowned poetry jokester.

Not all of these performance poems seamlessly translate to the page. What Teachers Make, for instance, requires parenthetical notes for clarification. And some of the short poems, like Gene Pool and Because My Students Asked Me, seem abrupt and corny. It's almost worth more to regard these poems as scripts for a theatrical performance than to see them as poems like Eliot and Ginsberg would have written. But they are still entertaining and instructive to read.

This book is great for fans of Taylor Mali, lovers of slam poetry, or as a gift for anybody who says no one is writing good poetry these days. I've read dark fingerprints into the pages of my volume. You will probably read your copy to pieces. It's that good.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, February 27, 2006
This review is from: What Learning Leaves (Paperback)
I have been searching for this book for a while, it's out of print and Amazon was the only one who carried it. Great condition, fast delivery, and of course the book is just excellent. As an aspiring teacher it speaks to a place in my heart that I hold in deep passion. Mali's words are fully expressive on what it means to be an educator.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe I like poetry more than I realized, August 30, 2009
This review is from: What Learning Leaves (Paperback)
This book was a summer reading assignment for all incoming first year students at Miami University in 2009. Like other authors of previous years' summer reading assignments, Taylor Mali then visited and spoke at Miami's convocation to mark the beginning of our academic year. His 20-minute talk, which blurred the boundaries between poetry from his book and plain old talking, was wonderful. Many faculty who had attended similar convocations at Miami over the past several years said that this book and Taylor Mali's talk were the best Miami had ever had.

One of Taylor Mali's goals, as evidenced both by his writing style and by the fact that he "performs" his poetry, is to make poetry accessible. He writes poems that can at once entertain and, upon repeated readings, give the reader some bigger things to think about.

If you are doubting whether to buy this book, search for a video of Taylor Mali performing his "What Teachers Make". Then, trust that you will enjoy the rest of his poems as much as the video.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best slam poetry available, February 5, 2006
This review is from: What Learning Leaves (Paperback)
Taylor Mali takes the lead with his book "What Learning Leaves." A former teacher, Mali uses his experiences with his students to have a real effect on the audience/reader. For some of his poems, it really must be heard outloud, however - in this book, most of his poems work amazingly well on paper. His best in the book are: Like Lily Like Wilson, and Poet Teaching Math and History.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, inspirational., September 24, 2010
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This review is from: What Learning Leaves (Paperback)
I am just a few months from graduating college and becoming a teacher. I am teacher #523 on Taylor Mali's list of 1000 teachers. If you don't know what that is you should check out his website and see what he is about, but since your here, I know you've at least heard of him or you've seen a video on you tube.

This book is a compilation of some of Taylor poems that are majorly based towards teachers. Its got most of his best ones including 'What teachers make', 'Like Lilly Like Wilson', 'Like you know...', 'the impotence of proofreading', and lots of others.

Its a short book, and you don't have to even LIKE poetry to read this and enjoy it. In fact, if you read this and don't feel inspired, then I would think there is something wrong with you.

I would recommend this to people who want to be teachers, and people who are teachers. It will most assuredly inspire you to teach even if you're not teaching professionally, and for those who are and have been teachers it will bring back some great memories. It may even rekindle the flame of a teacher who has forgotten why they started teaching in the first place. As teachers we all need a little boost once in awhile. This would be great to have in the desk and take out on those rough days and remind you who you are.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taylor Mali is great, March 17, 2007
This review is from: What Learning Leaves (Paperback)
I use this book in my classroom all of the time. My high school students love it. I also bought his CD and we listened to him present in an effort to model poetry presentation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Find Mali reading these on YouTube!, April 5, 2014
By 
S. Nelson (Pacific Northwest, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: What Learning Leaves (Paperback)
That's where I discovered Mali; love his attitude towards kids and teaching them. He's passionate, shoots from the hip, creative, and a great writer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Taylor Mali is my favorite modern poet!, March 28, 2014
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This review is from: What Learning Leaves: New Edition (Paperback)
He was a teacher, and I am also a teacher. He has marvelous insight into people and especially children. His poetry touches my heart, makes me laugh and cry. The stories he tells through his poetry are timeless in their message. I loan most of my books, but I do not loan Mali's books because I want them to be in my hand when I need his wisdom, his kindness, his compassion. Truly, his poems have been a blessing to me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must-own for educators!! World's best teacher's poetry, November 7, 2013
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This review is from: What Learning Leaves: New Edition (Paperback)
I wish I could have been a student in Taylor MALI's classroom. As it is, I settle for being a student of his teachings through his writing. So clever, & as a teacher very inspiring. Teachers! You must have Mail on your shelf. Even the students will appreciate it!!
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What Learning Leaves: New Edition
What Learning Leaves: New Edition by Taylor Mali (Paperback - November 15, 2012)
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