Friday, April 29, 2022

Poetry Friday: Taylor Mali is...

April's challenge for Poetry Month was to write "in the style of" Taylor Mali.  If you're only vaguely familiar with this poet (as I was) here's a great link to several of his spoken word poems.  They are sweeping, circular explorations, sturdy with extended metaphor, and pointedly opinionated. During our ZOOM session, I tried to explain why Mali's long, re-iterative poems hit a nerve for me, and why such poems are a joy to dive into, but even so, I had to agree that WRITING in that style was going to be a big ask. 

So I went back and re-engaged with that list of his poems. One, called Labeling Keys, sang to me. His father's secret language for coding which key belonged to which lock is a beautiful way to talk about poetry---and it reminded my that any form can be a a way to unlock what you want to say. So, despite my love of his expansive poetry, my "in the style of Taylor Mali" poem is concise. 

Haiku concise.  Yeah.  That was a surprise. 

 I did try to imitate his flair for unusual metaphor, his humor, his repetition, and his penchant for mild swearing. If you feel like it, drop me  a "Taylor Mali is...." haiku  in the comments. 

Getting There

Taylor Mali is
the road unpaved; throwing bones;
the long confession

Taylor Mali is
what you wish you’d said right then—
tart as blackberries

Taylor Mali is
the backbeat; what’s up your sleeve;
your heart exploding

Taylor Mali is
waking up past your bus stop;
a backpack of bees

Taylor Mali is 
an unfolding map of words;
not your damn haiku

----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved) 

My Poetry Sisters' "in the style of" Taylor Mali poems are here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by  Jone Rush MacCulloch.


  1. Taylor Mali is
    long-winded and yet pithy...
    how does he do that?

    Your haikus are flat out brilliant! What fun!!

  2. SARA!! Look at what you did! These are just amazing. It's the backpack of bees that does it for me!

  3. "waking up past your bus stop"... Yeah, that. You nailed it with these! I am still working on my poem and will post later.

  4. Okay, this is me most days ... "what you wish you’d said right then—/tart as blackberries"
    I love this string of haiku.

    Taylor Mali is
    when you're right, you're right

  5. Taylor Mali is...
    A product of his era
    Nearsighted like us

  6. Love this line: Taylor Mali is
    an unfolding map of words;
    I have seen Taylor perform with his energetic style of Spoken Word poems.


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