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, 4x National Team Slam Poet Champion, original Def Poetry Jam member, author of multiple books, creator of "What Teacher's Make
" and founder of "METAPHOR DICE
", sits down remotely to reunite with his former sixth-grade student (me) and discuss the strategy of poetry slams, the etymology of the poem “what teacher’s make”, why property taxes influence schools, what makes a “good teacher” vs. a “bad teacher”, why social media discourages expression of ideas, the anti-intellectual culture of Millennials and poetry, the power of nuanced opinion, and the creation of METAPHOR DICE….and Taylor’s continually failed quest to be published in The New Yorker Magazine (I feel this is the year!)
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- Take me back in time briefly to 1995-1996. How do you make the transition from teaching to poetry? We’re you already doing it as a hobby?
- What did you actually say to the lawyer at the dinner party when he asked you what teachers make? Did you just laugh it off regretfully? Does he know about the poem?
- What makes a bad teacher from a good one?
- If you hadn’t become a teacher what would you have done instead? Taylor the advertising executive?
- Respectfully, you don’t come across as a politically charged person. I don’t hear it in a lot of your poems. But teaching is a very political issue – problem isn’t getting smart people to teach, it’s incentivizing them and paying them enough to want to, instead of them going into finance or other industries. And then there are issues of tenure, unions, etc. I’m not suggesting money is everything, but many teachers can barely get by. How do we solve this issue?
- How do you make poetry cool and mainstream for millennials? Had a moment. Def poetry jam – in the early 2000s. slamnation documentary and slamplanet. Then we seemed to get caught up in EDM electronic music and cat videos on social media. One of my biggest frustrations with millennials is that it somehow became cool to be anti-intellectual. You post something educational on social media, it gets 5 likes. You post two girls doing a choreographed dance, it gets 10,000.
- To follow up on that, I would argue social media has made it hard for people to want to express themselves out of fear of being attacked for their own views. Which doesn’t help encourage people to write poetry. Curious of your thoughts? How do we bring this to the next generation?
- How do you make a name for yourself, when so much of poetry is subjective? In other words, what makes a good poet from a bad poet?
- What is something you wish someone had told you five years ago, or you had told yourself, that you had to learn on your own, but would have made life so much easier had you known?
- METAPHOR DICE
- Briefly explain, what is it? How did you come up with the idea?
- What is the biggest challenge you’re facing in terms of scaling it?
- What is THIS IS THUNDER DICE?