Join me in NYC on the THIRD Wednesday of this month!

Posted On March 25th, 2014


Page Meets Stage is a reading series I run which brings together two poets—one ostensibly repping the “page,” the other ostensibly repping a more performative style—to read/perform back and forth, poem for poem, continuing the conversation of where poetry exists. Some of the most prominent poets in the United States both in the “academy” and in spoken word circles (Gerald Stern, Mark Doty, Carol Muske-Dukes, Valzhyna Mort, Paul Muldoon, Thomas Lux, Roger Bonair-Agard, Patricia Smith, Rives, Lynne Procope, to name just a few) have been involved.

Check out YouTube to see some of the more memorable moments in the series (search for “Page Meets Stage”), or go to for the complete schedule.
Tickets are $12 ($6 students) and are sometimes available in advance online.

All shows take place at The DL Lounge on the Lower East Side (95 Delancey Street at the SW corner of Ludlow).

Piedmont, CA—An Evening with Taylor Mali: In Praise of Teachers

Posted On February 19th, 2014

On Tuesday, February 25, from 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm in the Alan Harvey Theater at Piedmont High School, the Education Speaker Series will host New York City performance poet and former teacher Taylor Mali, author of What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World and a four-time National Poetry Slam champion. He is one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement and one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series “Def Poetry Jam.” His one-man show Teacher! Teacher! won the jury prize for best solo performance at the 2001 Comedy Arts Festival. Mali is a vocal advocate of teachers and the nobility of teaching, and has performed and lectured all over the world. You may purchase an advance ticket for $10 plus a $2 online processing fee here:

Tickets may be available at the door depending on availability. If you miss this reading, Taylor Mali will be the featured poet the following evening at the Berkeley Poetry Slam.



Meet me in New York City on Wednesday, 2/19/2014, at 8 pm

Posted On January 27th, 2014

I’m looking forward to the first pairing of the year for Page Meets Stage on the third Wednesday of February. The poets taking part are Tracy K. Smith and Thuli Zuma so this month we really ARE “where the Pulitzer Prize meets the Poetry Slam!”

I’m leaving for Germany today (Monday, January 27, 2014), and I return only a few days before the show so I’m turning over the hosting duties to Associate Curator John Paul Davis. Nevertheless, come join me for this electric pairing!

I’m reading at the Austin Poetry Slam on 21 January 2014!

Posted On December 19th, 2013

Every year I go to Austin, TX, for MLK weekend. Which is to say, I went last year, and I have every intention of going this year. And the United States is a young country, so that practically makes it a tradition. And I love reading at the Austin Poetry Slam, because it’s one of the big time slams in the country, a National Poetry Slam championship venue with a large, active, weekly slam. There are slam venues all over the country, but there are only a handful at any one time that have become big time. Berkeley (where I’ll be on 2/26/2014), Boston, Seattle, the Nuyorican in New York City, Chicago, and Austin. Back when we were at the Bowery Poetry Club, I used to count my own slam, Urbana. But since the club’s metamorphosis into a high-end burlesque venue that sometimes does poetry on the side (and Urbana’s relocation to The Sidewalk Cafe), our audience has been struggling to find us.

But Austin. Great scene. Looking forward to it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
8 pm
Venue name: The 29th Street Ballroom
Venue address: 2906 Fruth Street, Austin, TX 78702
Estimated audience: 100-120
Cost of Admission?: $5.00

I used to get my shoes shined every Tuesday at 1:05 pm

Posted On November 15th, 2013

That’s not a metaphor.

The last school where I taught regularly was on the East Side of Manhattan, and after the first year there, my best friend (and school wife) Nell left to go teach at a different school. Nell was replaced by a guy named Tim who was even more of a WASP than I am. In fact, Rebecca (my real wife at the time) said Tim was what I MIGHT have become had I not met her in time. Tim owned several seersucker suits and was on a first-name basis with most of the sommeliers in the neighborhood.

Nell and I used to have sushi dinners once a month or so when we found ourselves at school late on the same afternoons, but Tim and I developed a different tradition. There was a cobbler’s shop just down the street from the school, and one day I said I was going to go sit for a shine. It was after lunch on a Tuesday when we both had free periods—such a luxury: a free period immediately after lunch!—and Tim said he would go with me. The place had two seats so it was perfect. Back then a shine cost $2 at this place or maybe $3. All I remember was that I could leave $5 and feel as though I’d gotten a good deal and left a decent tip. Tim did the same.

For the next three years, we got our shoes shined every Tuesday after lunch and talked the whole time about our students, our careers, our wives, and our lives. Eventually, I started choosing my outfit for Tuesdays starting with the pair of shoes that was most in need of a shine. Sometimes on a weekend, digging around in my closet, I’d discover a pair of shoes I hadn’t worn in a while and I’d set them aside to wear the following Tuesday. I didn’t have an excessive collection of work shoes—maybe seven or eight pair—so after a couple months all of them were looking decent. Then I started attending to the heels and the soles, bringing a different extra pair with me (sometimes a pair from Rebecca, too) to be left and repaired during the week.

My shoe collection never looked so good as when I was teaching. Now I only get my shoes shined in airports when I have the time to spare. It’s usually twice as expensive, and they only do half as good a job. But what I really miss is the routine and the conversation, the weekly chance to catch up with a friend. And the periodic but comprehensive management of a collection. The husbandry, if you will.

And Rebecca, of course. I miss Rebecca, too. She would have turned 50 next week.

Page Meets Stage reading with Faith Shearin in NYC

Posted On September 16th, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
The Red Room at The DL Lounge
95 Delancey Street
(SW corner of Delancey & Ludlow)
8:00 pm

Admission $12 Students $6

After three years of curating, I’m happy to report that I’m throwing myself back into the mix Wednesday, September 18, and my partner will be the amazing Faith Shearin. I was first introduced to her work through The Writer’s Almanac, which has featured a dozen of her poems in the last few years. I don’t get the sense that she performs a whole lot because it took a little convincing for her to agree come up to the big city from where she currently lives (West Virginia, I think). She asked if I would pair her with someone good and understanding, and I said, “No way! I’m pairing you with me!”

Here is a video I made of me reading Shearin’s poem “Shackleton’s Decision.” I lay awake at night thinking of how I would do it, figuring I would just film myself talking about how awesome she is and then read the poem. How boring would that have been? Then it occurred to me that I could easily find archival photos of Shackleton and his ill-fated expedition on the internet and produce a narrated slideshow instead! Spent a day in June creating this. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 19—The Triplex Theater, Great Barrington (MA)

Posted On July 10th, 2012

This is a show I do every year, and it’s always great fun perhaps because it’s always sold out (which makes any show instantly BETTER somehow, even if it’s just knowing that someone else didn’t get to sit where you are). As always, I’ll be performing a mix of old and new work and will read a chapter from “What Teachers Make,” which has come out since last summer’s performance.  The reading is presented by Upstairs Live at the Triplex Cinema, 70 Railroad Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230. Tickets $20, available after now online at or at the door.

Summer performances in NYC

Posted On June 23rd, 2012

Looks like another spinoff poem based on the trope of “What Teachers Make” is making the rounds of the blogosphere, this one about what firefighters and EMTs make. For what its worth, I remember explicitly giving permission for this one, and I admire its brevity. The author really only kept the best lines.

I’ll be at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City these days in June and July. Sometimes I’ll be the emcee with little time for poetry of my own, and other times I’ll be performing a poem in the open mic or participating more fully. Here are the next three days I’ll be at the Bowery Poetry Club:

Tuesday, June 26th, at 7:00 pm, for NYC-Urbana’s “Decathlon Slam; who knows what poetic ridiculosity I’ll be forced to do?!

Wednesday, June 27th, at 7:00 pm, I’ll be emceeing an evening for the performance poetry podcast Indiefeed with my good friend Ian Khadan at an event called Indifeed Live at the Bowery Poetry Club. We’ve invited six nationally known performance poets to grace the stage for one poem and then sit for a 9-minute interview. It’s a great show.

Tuesday, July 10th, at 7:00 pm, will be the first Northeast Invitational Team Poetry Slam with teams coming from Manchester (NH), Providence (RI), and White Plains (NY) to battle our home team of NYC-Urbana. At stake are bragging rights going into the National Poetry Slam in Charlotte (NC) this summer!

Hope to see you at any or all of these shows. Check my calendar for other shows I’m doing this summer in the Berkshires and beyond.

The moment of the haircut!

Posted On May 2nd, 2012

Although I asked Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz to cut off about 12″ of hair, I now wish I had donated a few more inches. After all, I went to the barber the next day and got it shaped. Why not give that hair to the American Cancer Society. In fact, why didn’t I shave my head?!

After 12 years, I’m getting a haircut on Saturday, April 7th!

Posted On April 4th, 2012

I am excited to report that my 12-year quest to convince 1,000 people to become teachers  will end on Saturday, April 7th, 2012, at the Bowery Poetry Club at 8 pm. Please come help me celebrate the release of my new book and watch as 10″ of my hair gets cut off and donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

There will be special appearances, poems, and a musical appearance by The Mighty Third Rail.

Admission is $10.