There are many ways to make a living as a writer – and many combinations of projects that can be cobbled together to pay the bills. My book The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life is a by-product of the writer’s lifestyle; among other things, the exercises help all writers expand their potential productivity and value in the marketplace.
My daily routine combines original writing of narrative and poetry, book editing, consulting with authors on editorial and marketing matters, collaborating with other authors, developing new projects, setting up workshops to teach, following up on possible leads, writing book proposals, checking emails from writers, editors and agents, and – with all that extra “spare” time – trying to stay up on reading.
That schedule is easy compared to making a living as a poet. Which is why the rest of today’s blog is dedicated to one of my friends, Taylor Mali, one of the top slam poets and spoken word artists in the world.
Taylor left his job as a middle school teacher in New York City to make a living as a poet. Think about that for a second: making a living as a poet? In America? Well, Taylor has pulled it off, and for good reason – he’s a brilliant poet, and a phenomenal live performer. I just saw him three weeks ago at The Ugly Mug in Orange, CA, and he was as hilarious and poignant as ever.
Taylor’s interweaving of the written word, entertainment, the art of teaching (and I mean art – he was and still is a GREAT teacher), humor and intensity make him unforgettable. At any given Mali event, fully one-quarter of the audience consists of teachers. Just 2 weeks ago at The Write Time Teens ‘N Twenties Conference in Bloomington, IN, creative writing teacher and novelist Missy Feller of Bosse High School in Evansville did a brilliant cover performance of Taylor’s famous poem, “What Teachers Make.” It is a hit with educators and poetry fans worldwide. If you have a “hit” as a poet, a poem people always want to hear … again, you stand among the few.
Now Taylor has a new collection out, The Last Time As We Are. It is brilliant, right down to the last poem – one that will leave anyone speechless who has ever experienced an elder family member in failing health.
Recently, I conducted a wide-open conversation with Taylor, entitled “Easy on the Ears: An Interview with Taylor Mali,” for a sharp new literary magazine, The Hummingbird Review. I invite you to read more about this wonderful man, teacher and poet, one who I believe will someday become the Poet Laureate of the United States.