In this weekly, in-person drop-in class, we’ll explore the way in which poems can emerge from “saying the quiet part out loud,” which is generally considered to be a bad thing. Participants will start each class with a short, five-minute writing exercise that makes space for eloquent confessions or otherwise artfully constructed admissions of imperfection. We’ll examine model poems in which the author dresses up an ugly truth or turns a kind spotlight on an honest observation, including poems by Wisława Szymborska, Terrence Hayes, Ada Limón and Billy Collins, among others. The bulk of each class, however, will be spent writing in response to a second prompt—bolder, nervier—which seeks to excavate and amplify “the quiet parts” of our minds. Why are they quiet? Are there truths that really should never be spoken? We’ll find out. Sharing will be encouraged but optional. (Note that drop-in classes are not a forum for critique of work; students looking for critique should register for multi-week workshops.)
Taylor Mali is a spoken word poet, teacher advocate and game designer from New York City. His poetry is both accessible and literary, and even though he was once told he was “just like Billy Collins except even worse,” Billy Collins himself calls Taylor Mali a “poet of unique properties whose performances are leavened by charm and wit.” Mali is a four-time National Poetry Slam champion and one of the original poets to appear on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. The author of five collections of poetry and a book of essays on teaching, he is also the inventor of Metaphor Dice, a game that helps writers think more figuratively. He lives in Brooklyn, where he is the founding curator of the Page Meets Stage reading series at the Bowery Poetry Club.