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January 2004

Release Date: January 14, 2004

Mali to Bring Professional Slam Poetry to ASU Jan. 27

Four-time National Slam Poetry Champion Taylor Mali, a former elementary school teacher who used poetry to enhance the educational experience of his students, will demonstrate his mastery of performance poetry during an appearance Tuesday, Jan. 27, at Angelo State University.

Mali, arguably the most successful slam poet in the young history of the activity, will bring his nationally recognized slam poetry to the stage of the ASU Auditorium at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 in an event sponsored by the University Center Program Council Arts Committee.

A poetry slam, the competitive performance of slam poetry, places dual emphasis on the writing of the poetry itself as well as the performing of that poetry before an audience. Poetry slams have become a national phenomenon, particularly in metropolitan areas.

At poetry slams, judges rate performers on a scale of 10 based on the poetry's content and the poet's performance. Poetry slams provide an interactive performance, encouraging audience participation and often using audience members as judges.

Mali's performance is open to the public. Tickets cost $1 for ASU and high school students, $2 for ASU faculty and staff and children under 12, and $3 for general public. Tickets will go on sale Tuesday, Jan. 20, at the Houston Harte University Center Information Desk.

Until recently, Mali put his Oxford education and M.A. in English literature to use in elementary school. A vocal advocate of teachers and the nobility of teaching, Mali himself spent nine years in the classroom teaching everything from English and history to math. Though he has left education for his career in slam poetry, he values education and has established as his personal mission a goal of inspiring at least 1,000 people to go into teaching.

"I want to be the individual responsible for making an entire generation of college graduates consider teaching before business or law school," he said. "And while I'm at it, I want to make it easier for smart and successful people in their 30s and older to become teachers as well. I want to be the spokesman for teaching's nobility, the poet laureate of passion in the classroom."

Mali recently showcased his new one-man show, "Teacher! Teacher!" for NBC. At the HBO Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, he won the Jury Prize for Best One-Person Performance. He was one of the original poets to appear on HBO's original series "Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry."

He was also the "golden-tongued, Armani clad villain" of Paul Devlin's 1997 documentary film "SlamNation," which chronicled the National Poetry Slam Championship of 1996, the year of Mali's first national team championship.

Mali now makes his living entirely as a spoken-word and voiceover artist, traveling around the country performing and teaching workshops as well as doing commercial voiceover work. He is the narrator of several books on tape, including "The Great Fire," for which he won the Golden Earphones Award for children's narration. Mali is also the author of several books and CDs of original poetry and spoken word.

Ticket information is available from ASU by calling (325) 942-2062 or visiting on the Web. Additional information on Taylor Mali is available on the Web at