March 2014 TedEd Lesson 

Ms. Gayle's 5 Steps to Slam

! Watch It Now!


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Upcoming Performance:  Special Mother's Day Performance

                           Come to Mama - more info


What is Slam?

Slam combines movement, voice, drama and the written word for an unforgettable spoken word experience. Slam made its debut back in the late 1980ís in Chicago when a local poet named Marc Smith grew tired of the stale presentations of poetry that seemed to pervade the coffee shops and libraries around town. Thus Slam was born as a way of expressing oneself briefly, powerfully and impactfully.

1996 International Slam Poet Champion

1994 National Individual Poetry Slam Winner

Featured on "60 Minutes" inspiring middle school students to write Slam poetry and read out loud.

Gayle's interview on NPR - LISTEN (16mb, mp3)

Gayle performing Still I Rise - LISTEN (3mb, mp3)


As a fifth grader, when speaking about my life, I told my peers, "I quest."  After the laughter subsided, I realized I had spoken the truth.

To this day, the quest to eloquently communicate still gives fuel to my life.  Honestly, I have yet to find the poem that speaks to me completely.  This is why I write.  I love the authoritative, definitive, compassionate voice of the poet. 

I live to write my consummate piece;  the one that reverberates and says, "Life is good, difficult and worth living."

Inside me the bold ten-year old still quests.  Thank God for this thing called POETRY!

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I am very passionate about helping to put an end to bullying. I won't rest until all acts of violence are eradicated from every middle and high school in the United States. I believe when children hurt each other it is because they feel disconnected from themselves or from those around them.

This sense of isolation comes with a story, a personal narrative or a poem. Writing and speaking these life words frees our children from feelings of apartness, aids them in making more positive behavioral choices and bonds them to each other both inside and outside of the classroom.

  Please visit to find out what I'm doing to keep our kids safe.


For the past ten years I've traveled across America sharing the beauty and power of this very personal and exciting form of poetry in school settings with children grades 4-12. Perhaps I've been to your school! It's been a wonderful journey seeing the children's faces light up as they experience the full potential of words in my Slam poetry assemblies and workshops.

I'd like to tell you about an exciting project I've begun. It's called The Slam Poet's Smorgasbord! I've handpicked and trained four of my favorite Slam poets in the art of performing poetry and beginning in September 2003 they'll be available to come share their unique form of Slam poetry with you.

Here's Your Taste of the Smorgasbord...
Twain Dooley has been part of the DC Slam Team for several years. He performs his Slam poetry with cleverness and humor and sprinkles it with a refreshing use of rhythm and personification. Twain is a native Jamaican who's also fluent in Spanish. Young men will enjoy learning that Slam isn't just a "girl thing" as they watch Twain perform original poems that are at once sensitive and strong. Patrick Washington is fantastic at blending hip hop with Slam! His rhythmic style is both melodic and electrifying. He's adept at telling his own story with passion, energy, modesty and truth. Regarded by many as one of this country's premier performance poets, Patrick was recently featured on HBO's DEF POETRY JAM and is one of the most sought-after Slam poets in the nation. Children enjoy how smoothly he blends the music of his voice with the music of his life.

The poets are available for workshops. You may Book Them separately or mix and match to meet your children's needs.

Available for grades 4-12. Audience limit: 250. Workshop limit: 30.

So, there you have it - a collection of this country's finest Slam poets available to you! I'd like you to experience the Smorgasbord. It's hard to describe just what Slam is, but once you've seen it you'll want to share it with your children. Trust Me!



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