Become a slam poet in five steps – Gayle Danley

Become a slam poet in five steps – Gayle Danley


Translator: Andrea McDonough
Reviewer: Bedirhan Cinar Miss Gayle’s 5 Steps to Slam Poetry, a lesson of transformation. Step 1: Write it all down. “Take one memory, explore it like a new land,” the visiting poet tells the class. “Don’t leave anything out.” Tyler sits in this high school workshop, dizzy with where to start. Memories wander in and out of his heart like vagrants searching for home. He bends to his desk, he writes, “The snow goes black when the moon turns its eyes away, all paper is yellow, all letters spell eviction note, Mama’s lies are footsteps too many to count. Making excuses on black snow. ‘I paid the rent, this is your room forever, baby. I love you.’ But, she wouldn’t even look at me.” Step 2: Read out loud. As he writes, his lips try on words then toss them out like bad tenants. He pushes his desk back, stands. “Aunt Jocelyn’s rice pudding was sweet, but that’s not what I want to write. Have you ever been so cold your hair becomes an icicle? Your little sister’s fear of the dark freezes on her lips like she’s kissed the ice tray? How hungry have you been?” Step 3: Cut the fat. Abandon extra words. His pen becomes a machete, slashing ands, thens, becauses. Step 4: Read out loud, again. The 11th grade boy makes sure Step 3’s cuts weren’t too deep. Step 5: Add flava. Juice, power, movement, emotion. “Vanilla flavoring is the secret to my aunt’s pudding. I kick out a few raisins but leave one or two. Life needs some bitter to man up the sweet.” His hands reach out like shells to hold our disbelief. Is this Tyler speaking? The one who keeps his eyes on the floor like they’re carrying something heavy? Voice rattles windows. “I am free now.” Body quivers with the pulse of each word. “The sun’s joy melts snow.” Fingers trace the curve of his jaw. “My aunt’s face was warm as a water heater when she let us in that night.” Our boy is done, his transformation complete. Step 1: Write it all down. Step 2: Read out loud. Step 3: Cut the fat. Step 4: Read out loud. Step 5: Add flava. Tyler’s first poem takes residence in his heart. He flings his arms wide like an open door. Welcome home!

100 thoughts to “Become a slam poet in five steps – Gayle Danley”

  1. Lol, thanks for the video though it was a bit meta. I'm a total beginner trying to learn how to be a poet, but the video itself was a slam poem so I couldn't understand it!!
          I'm going to try something else besides TED-ed. Perhaps its because I'm not smart enough, but I find all of TED-ed's videos to be Esoteric, confined to and understandable by only that enlightened inner circle.

  2. I write… A lot… But I don't have the courage to get up and say what I mean.. how I feel.. Thanks for the tips!!

  3. I'm only here because my english teacher's making us all do these, in front of four classes at once and the lunch crowd.

  4. I created a new poetic form called the Saukko. It has a 5 word title. 5 stanzas long, each 5 lines long. I can Ryhme or free form.

  5. What's the difference between slam poet and usual poet? Why did you call them "slam poet" rather than just "poet"?

  6. Thanks for sharing this. I lost my Father last December and have been writing ever since. I have just started a YouTube channel with some of the poems I have written. It is so cathatic to write! 🙂

  7. Bro, seems like you do not know the meaning of slam poetry. So I advise you to change the title of the video. Write it as, "Become a spoken word poet in five steps" .

  8. When you're here because your teacher said "You're all going to write slam poetry and perform it in front of the class."

    Kill me

  9. What a voice for the narrator! Makes me think of the woman that actually came to my high school and hosted a poetry slam. One of my finest memories, of my last day of high school.

  10. I had a poetry workshop at school and wrote one poem and the class voted me as the best poet and now I have to write another one for the club and I’m so nervous and I’m freaking out and came here for help

  11. I have an assignment for my Creative Writing class tomorrow, I need to read and perform slam poetry, I hope I don't embarrass myself.

  12. I want to write a poem. Not a poem. BUT A SLAMMMMMM POEM. People gonna be like «Oh damn she slammed us» and they gon be mindblown. But i don’t have any talent 🙁

  13. Ya I am here because of school but don't know why because all I have trouble with is standing up and performing in front of a bunch of 8th grade judgementals

  14. Thank you, I`m actually getting my passion for spoekn word poetry back. even bought a brand new journal

  15. Waw☹️☹️☹️I'm so touched… Wish I was as good…. So good my lessons cld be a poem in itself like this one😭😭😭😭😭

  16. It was good but I seriously do not if that was of any help 😅. The poems just made me feel worse about my poetry.

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