Wellness in the Time of COVID Series: Poetry as a Tool for Joy, Grief, and All Points in Between

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RSVP FOR THIS PROGRAM - $15

November 12 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

This program is being offered virtually through Zoom. In order to participate and receive the Zoom link, you must register here or by emailing carla@smithcenter.org

with Gayle Danley, national & international poetry slam champion

Gayle Performing in Frederick, MD
Gayle Performing in Frederick, MD

Slam poetry began in Chicago’s bars and coffeehouses in the late 1980’s. This phenomenal blend of spoken and written word turns every willing soul into a poet while providing relief from the stresses of the day. Master teaching artist Gayle Danley has shared her down-on-the-floor style of performance poetry all over the country in classrooms, lecture halls, theatres and even on CBS’ 60 minutes.

Join her for much laughter, emotion, comfort, understanding and instruction in the art of slam poetry. Her 4-step process has been tried in the fire and proven to be an effective antidote to the blues of the day and the isolation that threatens to drive us mad!


Poem for my Sisters With Sons:
Breathe:
Pull a clean fist of air inside your self
and let it rest there
wide and unfrightened inside your belly
asking for nothing
Remember when the baby boy was there
Stirring and fighting and kicking things around
inside of you.
And where is he now?
Kicking at air
asking for everything
Defiance rippling on the edge of his skin
Beautiful as water
And do not worry if your brown boy 
doesn’t smile enough
as long as he still smiles at you:
over dinner
over the news
from beneath a curtain of hair tangled and sprawled,
it is enough
Does he still know your name?
Good.
Does he still reach for you when there is blood
Does he still make you want to kill him on Monday mornings
and kill FOR him on Saturday nights?
Good
Is he still
breathing
good 
good 
good
Your turn:
breathe
again
until all
the air you can find
makes home
 within your body
Your black sad
scared hopeful body
Round and trembling
like your mother’s
Rest now
tomorrow will come before you know it
with her hair on fire and her knee on your neck
Your son knows you are his home
He has memorized all the valleys in your voice
every scream and grin
He ain’t going anywhere far
He is not leaving you
He will not vanish
he will not stray
Your breath is his
Your love is his
Never leaving
never dying
never going
away

And, check out more of Gayle’s work on YouTube here!


Wellness in the Time of COVID

The Washington Home

This 6-month integrative wellness series, sponsored by The Washington Home, will be offered to caregivers, those who are critically ill, and those facing cancer-related challenges during this especially difficult time.

Check out the full series program schedule HERE!


About Gayle Danley

Gayle Danley

Soon after crushing the competition at Asheville’s National Poetry Slam in 1994, Gayle Danley entered America’s classrooms teaching thousands of children how to access their emotions through the force of words. She performed and taught her way from Maryland Young Audience’s Artist of the Year, to National Young Audience’s Artist of the Year. She’s also both a former national and international poetry slam champion. CBS 60 Minutes profiled her work with middle schoolers as well as the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post and New York Times.

For the past five years, Gayle’s Grieffriend sessions have helped women who are living with AIDS, widows, incarcerated youth and those struggling with drug addiction and recovery use poetry to cope and bravely face life’s challenges.

Gayle was recently named Maryland Library Association Poet of the Year.

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