Personally and professionally, Dani has worn many hats: apprentice to a pastry chef (at a world class hotel with), non-profit administrator, nightclub booker, anarchist bookstore cooperative member, small business owner, substitute 6th grade teacher, namer of yarn colors, performer consultant and agent, publicist, Founder, Sole Proprietor of Squawk and Howl and The Squawk Store and more.
Background on “Slam”
Each year, spoken word artists from all over the country compete in “Poetry Slams”. The best of these poets earn spots on teams that compete against teams from other venues and locations nationwide. Bragging rights, audience love, and cash are all on the line in this high stakes art form that combines elements of sport, literary arts, stand-up comedy, and theatrical performance. Poetry Slams are a nationwide phenomenon. At a slam, poets articulate within a three-minute time limit and are scored from 0-10 based on performance and content. Judges are picked at random from the audience, thereby adding an automatic interactive element to a Slam that many open mics lack. Around the country, poets gather week after week to compete for applause, cash, and points towards a Team slot in the National Competition.
What is slam (according to those that know)?
“The poetry slam is a gimmick. Slams are a device used to draw in an audience of ‘normal folk,’ (meaning you, me, and the cabby that drove us here) and encourage them to actively participate in the performance of poetry, either as a vocal audience member, or actually sharing their heart and mind on stage. Slams have the useful benefit of rewarding poets who connect with their audience by performing energetically, speaking clearly, and writing brief, potent, easy to grasp poems. Slams help give creative people incentive to find and hone the voice needed to express their ideas forcefully in front of a live audience.”
—Charles Ellik (Slammmaster, Berkeley Slam, Tournament Director, New Word series)
“I have been involved with poetry slams since 1997. I have had a lot of time to see slam and how it affects poets, poetry, and their work. In short, I think it is an amazingly positive way for any performance poet to improve her/his craft. Sure, slam is a poetry competition that allows people in the audience to judge- a gimmick to get the audiences in the door. Slam gets the audience numbers there (and gets them participating- not sitting like lumps!), and that could be construed as a gimmick. But from the poets’ angle, it’s more of a tool. A slam hones the fine art of performance poetry more than any other poetry event I’ve ever encountered. Unlike an open mic, there are rules in slam about length. This makes the fine art of editing really keen in a slammer. How many poets have you seen that really have a few great ideas floating around in a mire of mediocre prose? Did you think to yourself- “Agh! Learn to edit!” Slam does that for a poet. Unlike an open mic, there are rules in slam against about props and background music. This rule makes a poet rely only on the strength and impact of their words, not a toy, a rhythm, or backbeat. They have to give of themselves. They have to work! It makes for a truly personal presentation that I feel connects the poet to the audience in a way that I have seen very few other poetry events do. Moreover, slams are a nationwide phenomenon. Slams occur regularly in most towns and cities across the US. It gets an eager audience there for the poet, no matter where they are. This means once you are a great slammer, you can slam your way across the USA and meet great poets. And unlike open mics, most slam features are paying gigs! Making a living as an artist is a good thing.”
— dani eurynome (Slammmaster, Berkeley Slam, Agent of spoken word artists, spoken word event producer)