The Whetting Stone

by Taylor Mali

« 2017 Rattle Chapbook Prize Winner »


The Whetting Stone by Taylor MaliIn September of 2004, Rebecca Tauber Mali, the wife of performance poet Taylor Mali, killed herself by jumping out the window of their apartment in New York City. She was a teacher, and it was morning on the first day of school. In this haunting new collection of poems, Taylor Mali, once a teacher himself, explores her life and their love as well as the shape and texture of his own guilt and resilience.

Ships September 1st!



From the Editors

We’ve long admired Taylor Mali’s vibrant and inspiring poetry but were left stunned by the retelling of this tragic chapter from his life. Here, Mali’s familiar gifts for honesty and precision, so finely honed, have been turned inward, as he interrogates the limits of love, grief, guilt, and forgiveness. Brief as it is, this little book forges an epic journey of emotional wisdom and healing, which moved us all deeply. It speaks a truth that needed to be written, needs to be read, and stands as a testament to the human need for poetry itself.

Sample Poem

•“The New Ash on the Roof of Our Building” in Pank

Other Poems

• “Magnifies an Object Ten Times” in Rattle #42
• “What Teachers Make” in Rattle #27
• “Undivided Attentionfrom What Learning Leaves
Ten more poems on his website

About the Author

Taylor MaliTaylor Mali is one of the best-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.” A four-time National Poetry Slam champion, he is the author of four collections of poetry and a book of essays, What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World. In April of 2012, Mali completed his twelve-year quest to convince 1,000 people to become teachers, an achievement he commemorated by donating twelve inches of his hair to the American Cancer Society. He lives in Brooklyn, where he curates the Page Meets Stage reading series at the Bowery Poetry Club. (website)



Cover art by Bianca Stone
“Wedding Cake,” pen, ink, watercolor, gouache

Author photo by Peter Dressel

ISBN: 978-1-931307-34-5
Cover price: $7.00
Chapbook: 32 pages
Size: 6″ x 9″