Laura’s Team Pick: What a Teacher Makes

This is relevant since we’re talking about poetry and because no one likes an arrogant asshole.



Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 329 articles for us.


  1. He sounds like the scariest teacher ever, omg.

    Side note that is really the main point of this comment – when are you guys gonna get your pure poetry all up in Carol Ann Duffy. Like, she is the first female poet laureate and a massive lezzer. And she gave you an onion for valentines and wrote a sonnet from the point of view of Shakespeares wife and a lament for David Beckham’s ankle. She speaks for the nation, you know? I know it’s not your nation but I feel this still should be written about.

    • we determined who to write about for pure poetry week based solely on one thing and that thing is “poets that we really personally care about”/”work we’re familiar with” (everyone i wrote about is someone who i have at least one book of their work to reference in my own personal library).

      i agree that carol ann duffy is an incredibly important poet because she was the first female poet laureate and a massive lezzer (i think we wrote a bit about it in a daily fix when she was named poet laureate), but nobody on the team volunteered to write about her and the idea of the series was that we present a genuine passion rather than a research piece. That’s why we’ve had a ton of guest writers here to help cover our bases. So if anyone wants to write about Carol Ann Duffy… her exclusion has nothing to do with her nationality

      • I can write a thing! Like a British lesbian poets extravaganza with UA Fanthorpe and RV Bailey and I have so much passion. Is this a good idea? I feel like people need to know about Atlas.

        I will write a thing and the worst you can do is ignore me. First I will make dinner and maybe shower though.

  2. Thank you.

    My mom is a teacher at a community collage. The board won’t renew their contract and it looks like we will have to strike. With what has happened in Wisconsin and Ohio, there doesn’t seem much point. I used to believe in America.

    If that wasn’t bad enough they want to fire my mom because some of her students complained her standards were too high. They also feel that her program of training medical assistants is no longer needed. So, they are trying to break her tenure illegally and get rid of her. I used to believe in people.

    Whatever happened to America?
    Whatever happened to working hard?
    Whatever happened to school?

  3. If you haven’t heard other things by Mali, I recommend “Tony Steinberg: Brave Seventh Grade Viking Warrior”. It is absolutely heartbreaking. One of my theatre teachers in high school used to play his poems for us and we would all lie on the floor and listen and when she played this one we all cried and I don’t think we did any work that year, but that was totally okay

  4. I watched the video right after coming back from a class about working with students with emotional and behavioral disabilities where I learned about how these kids are essentially not served at all by the school system. First I felt kinda ambiguous about this guy, cause some things he said were a bit not okay, but a lot of it was really awesome. Kids are screwed up. We can’t just teach them book stuff. They need lessons in relating to people and communicating and handling emotions that last beyond kindergarten. High stakes testing = not a well thought out plan. Ok end soapbox. This was an interestingly timed post. Too many feelings.

  5. i’m so glad you posted this — when i put up the first pure poetry thing about def jam i had this guy in it and then i decided to do just girls instead and then somehow on your magical own you found/posted this and so as i said, in the beginning, i’m so glad you posted this

  6. This was amazing. As an educator, I should memorize it for the next time someone gives me crap about working in the public school system.
    I especially loved “Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom? Because you’re bored, and you don’t really have to go”
    I say something like this at least once a day!

  7. YOU GUYS. i just taught a workshop on slam poetry (second year in a row, aw yeeee) to a few other schools in the area. after showing them a variety of slams, i pretty much fangasmed over taylor mali and ruined any semblance of maturity i may have perpetuated. it was amazing.

    he has a lot of fantastic pieces based around his teaching experiences, if you’re looking for more slams along the same line as this one. however, he’s also got a good amount of heartbreaking slams about his first wife (who committed suicide) and depression. it’s heavy stuff, but i highly recommend it.

  8. I love Taylor Mali. I’ve seen him live and he is amazing and just wonderfully witty. I have his books of poetry and while they are more effective when read by him, they are still funny and charming on their own.

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