You may be reading this review in the wake of a recent and very popular video which has been making the rounds on the internet by a particular writer and teacher and poet named Taylor Mali. He is a strong advocate for teaching and improving the quality of education in our schools.
If you are reading this review, however, I assume you want to know what makes it special, worth purchasing. First, I'd suggest you listen to samples of this, either here or at the poet's website. These are thoughtful poems, some fun, some serious and all created with variety and conviction. Listening to this makes me think about the creative process.
I'd also like to point out another thing. Mali often speaks in something called E-Prime. Follow a link to his website and you'll find an intriguing podcast called "Why I Speak the Way I speak" which will give you an oral example of E-Prime and his reasons for using it. For those not yet familiar with E-Prime, it basically focuses on
abolishing or limiting the use of the verb "To Be".
Examples of sentences using verbs with "to be" in them would include "I am depressed" or "He is cheerful". Now, consider the first sentence. Wouldn't it be clearer to say " I feel very depressed today because my dog died?" In contrast, if a person says, "I am depressed" it is harder to know if this is a permanent state of being, a temporary emotion or...?
As a former teacher and sometime journalist, I was automatically writing in E-prime a good deal of the time (but not always, wasn't fanatical about it) but not realizing WHY sentences used this way could be so effective, strong and focused. Now I am fascinated by the possibilities for using this in oral speech. I do think overuse of words like "is" "are" "were' "was" "am and "Be', among others, can water down sentence, muddle conversation and make things less clear.
Anyway, check out this this CD and related ones, as well as books on E-Prime (if you find Mali's use of it intriguing, as I do):
The Difference Between Left & Wrong
What Learning Leaves
and see what YOU think:
More E-Prime: To Be or Not II
E-Prime III!: A Third Anthology