Letters and Life


Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo. Words by Taylor Mali

Letters and Life, a video by Ronnie Bruce featuring the words and voice of Taylor Mali with a follow-up discussion, should speak for itself!

First and foremost, here’s hoping everyone will just view the fantastic video by Ronnie Bruce that features the words and poem by Taylor Mali. Then come back and read on.

It’s interesting to note that Ronnie Bruce created and posted this video several years ago without the express permission of Taylor Mali, the author of the poem. Once the video went viral and was brought to the attention of Mr. Mali, he quite graciously acknowledged the popularity of the work and featured it also on his own site, which you can visit here.

Mr. Bruce at the time was a student at Temple University and has created an impressive body of work at a young age. “Typography,” his video above, is in my view, among the best.

Mr. Mali, who left full-time teaching in 2000, is now a full-time  performing poet and motivational speaker. His resume is impressive and he performs throughout the country and beyond. Taylor Mali has combined his unique background of teaching, drama and theater and brings his professional talents for drama and poetry together in productions he calls “Page Meets Stage.” Anyone who is contemplating a career in teaching should view all of Taylor Mali’s videos…they’re terrific, unique, fresh and at times disturbingly honest.

For me, in addition to enjoying Mali’s words as presented in Bruce’s video, there’s another subtext here involving how the written word gets transformed and blossoms within new media, who receives value from it, and where responsibility lies with securing permissions, etc, regardless of how popular that work might be. (As an aside, it’s interesting to note that Mr. Bruce’s video also violated the terms of the hosting site that still carries the video, because he didn’t secure permission to use the poem before posting to Vimeo!)

In today’s “grab-copy-paste” frenzy within social networking circles, and especially among young people everywhere, there needs to be more discussion and education around these topics. (For the record, I received My. Mali’s express permission to quote and reference his material for this post. Mr. Bruce’s video, as hosted by Vimeo, is Open Source, intended to be freely copied and embedded elsewhere.)

A special thanks to my junior high-aged Quaker friend, Jlynn, who posted this video on her Facebook account for everyone to see…and enjoy. And while there’s blame to spread around in different directions for using material without permission… you did, I trust, enjoy the well created video featuring a fantastic poem by Taylor Mali, I’m sure. And there’s the rub.

Text by Kevin Lee


Author: Kevin Lee

In a nutshell, Kevin fesses up to the following: He's a retired youth advocate-counselor, a blogger, writer, photographer, rower, Friends Minister, grandpa of six and married to a terrific woman for 43 years and counting!

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