The Poetry of Pain
Slam poet Gayle Danley teaches children how words can soothe their wounds
By Christina Ianzito
Sunday, November 23, 2008; Page W16
She starts off with a poem titled "Round Like Bubbles": "Round like a big fat green birthday balloon kissing the sky," Gayle Danley begins, then turns her backside to the audience of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at Deerfield Run Elementary School in Laurel and adds, "Why can't I have a round one like J. Lo?"
The 275 students giggle nervously, immediately certain that this rather loud 43-year-old woman, a nationally renowned slam poet in jeans and a green maternity blouse, isn't going to be teaching them any kind of poetry they've ever heard before. This stuff doesn't rhyme. And, what? Did she just mention Jennifer Lopez in a poem?
"How come I don't look like J. Lo?" the poet nearly shouts, plaintively stressing the word "I," with a Southern accent, as the children titter. "You ever look in the mirror and go, 'How come I don't have hair that sings down my spine? How come?' " A few lines later, she switches gears: "I don't need to be Halle Berry, I don't need to be Alicia Keys, I don't need to be bald-headed Britney" – they really crack up at that one – "I have it going on, because I have you."
Gayle Danley has been earning acclaim with the power of her words for almost 15 years. She performs poetry and teaches it to children all over Maryland, inspiring almost everyone who hears her with her frank personal revelations and her ability to coax cathartic self-expression out of some of the most unlikely students.
and full article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/14/AR2008111401691.html