SFYL: Become a slam poet in five steps

Gayle Danley offers five steps to being a slam poet — while being downright poetic in the process.
Lesson by Gayle Danley, animation by TED-Ed

With enough passion and practice, becoming a slam poet is within your reach. Explore a distant memory on paper, then read it out loud. Edit. Try reading it out loud again, and add your finishing touches.

Who is Gayle Danley?

Gayle was born in New York City, and at age 8 months, moved with her family to Atlanta, Georgia. She won her first public speaking contest in 7th grade and studied broadcast journalism at Howard University’s School of Communications where she graduated cum laude. After working as an assistant magazine editor for the National Rifle Association, she left Washington, DC to study Radio, Television and Film at Syracuse University, earning a Master’s Degree. It was not until after she finished school that she learned about Slam poetry. She embraced it almost immediately won the 1994 National Individual Slam Poet in Ashville, NC just months after being exposed to Slam poetry. In Heidelberg, Germany, she became the 1996 International Slam Poet Champion.

Feeling blessed to be able to share her talent and motivational words with audiences across the country, Gayle launched her one-woman show, “Brilliance,” touching thousands with her Slam Poetry workshops, lectures, performances and speeches. Gayle has published three books: “Naked,” “Soulfull—A Slam Poetry Study Guide,” and “Passionate—Poems You Can Feel.”

In addition to her motivational speaking and college performances, she has maintained a constant tour of elementary and secondary schools, helping students with traumatic experiences and teaching workshops on Slam poetry to all age groups. A feature story on Slam poetry was presented on the CBS show, 60 Minutes in 1999, which spotlighted her classroom work and riveting performance. Her keynote and lecture series fuses her poetry with the ability to touch her audience through real life experiences, leaving a lasting emotional message with her audience.

Gayle’s explosive style combines movement and emotion as she performs her magic on the audience, sweeping them up in her words as she addresses and explores contemporary issues.

Recent clients include: George Washington University, Massachusetts College of Art, University of Texas at San, Antonio, Clemson University, Alonzo Crim HS – Atlanta GA, South Brunswick HS – South Brunswick NJ, “Out of the Box” arts conference for artists and educators under the NYS Alliance in Binghamton NY, Jamestown Community College, University of Baltimore, Delaware Valley Institute for the Arts Teacher Conference, The Rome Art and Community Center artist spotlight and The Kitchen Theatre Presents Women in the Arts Event.

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