Poetry TAT

The Poetry Teaching Artist Training Project provides in-depth professional development classes for novice and aspiring poetry teaching artists in Washington, DC. A small cohort of promising artists–through a series of speakers, classes, activities, assignments, fieldwork, and mentoring–will enhance their teaching, classroom management, and curriculum development skills, and thereby their long-term employability.

With proper training and guidance from mentors, poets can find profitable work inspiring and teaching students across the District and the world. This project currently consists of twice-monthly meetings, an induction and graduation ceremony, fieldwork training with mentors in schools, and two performances.

In addition to the wisdom and training imparted by guest lecturers and facilitators, participants receive a travel stipend to cover transportation costs, as well as curricula and reading materials, and personal one-on-one mentoring and guidance. Upon graduation, participants will receive a certificate of completion to bolster their professional credentials.


Questions? Email program director, Jonathan B. Tucker, at phenomejonathan (at) gmail.com. 


This project is partly funded by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.


Master Teachers

Gayle Danley


International Poetry Slam Champion and former Young Audience’s National Artist of the Year, Gayle Danley, was a member of Young Audiences’ artist roster for over a decade. She has turned her pain and joy, courage and optimism into pages and pages of slam poetry that she shares onstage and in the classroom with children all over the country. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Howard University and a Master’s Degree in Communications from Syracuse University. Her work with children who are suffering loss has been featured in a TedEd talk, on CBS 60 Minutes, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun and the New York Times.


Safia Elhillo

Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017).Sudanese by way of Washington, DC, she received a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and an MFA in poetry at the New School. Safia is a Pushcart Prize nominee, receiving a special mention for the 2016 Pushcart Prize, and recipient of the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize and the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation, and Crescendo Literary and The Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Incubator.


13 of Nazareth


13 of Nazareth is a convergence of Hip-Hop culture, old school R&B/Soul music, scientific spirituality and a child-like love of language. Rhythms that are warm to the heart embedded with lyrics that are challenging to the ear often emerge from this intersection and have resulted in him being labeled a “poet’s poet.” His writing is elevated without being condescending as it invites seeing from his vantage point without dismissing that of others. 13 of Nazareth encourages each listener/reader to apply what is useful from his work while discarding what is not. The golden thread which runs throughout his hip-hop infused poetry is drawn from the looms of various spiritual traditions to weave a tapestry of creative works geared toward the personal and collective healing process.


Holly Bass


Holly Bass is a multidisciplinary performance and visual artist, writer and director. Her work has been presented at spaces such as the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Museums, the Seattle Art Museum, Art Basel Miami Beach (Project Miami Fair) and the South African State Theatre. Her visual art work spans photography, installation, video and performance and can be found in the collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the DC Art Bank, as well as private collections. A Cave Canem fellow, she has published poems in numerous journals and anthologies.


Regie Cabico

Cabico is a critically acclaimed performance poet who has won top prizes in the 1993, 1994 and 1997 at National Poetry Slams. His poetry appears in over 30 anthologies including Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café, Spoken Word Revolution and Slam. He was also featured in MTV’s “Free Your Mind” Spoken Word Tour. Regie is the recipient of three New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships for Poetry and Multi-Disciplinary Performance.[3] He is a regular performer at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. He was artist-in-residence at New York University, and De Anza College.[4]


Xabiso Vili


Xabiso Vili is a writer, performer and poet obsessed with social development. He has performed his poetry around South Africa, including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Grahamstown and more. He came in the top six in the 2011 Lover + Another national poetry slam and came third in the 2013 poetry slam of the same national event after winning the regional finals. He has worked as an assistant teacher and run multiple workshops around poetry and improvisational comedy in Cape Town. He is currently staying in Pretoria and working with various organisations to further the reach and effect of poetry. In his spare time he enjoys battling silver-tongued dragons in the hopes of claiming one as his own.


Brandon Douglas

B Doug rap hands

Brandon Douglas is a poet, emcee, and actor born and raised in Washington, DC. He was on the DC Youth Slam Team in 2009 and has been volunteering with the team ever since. A member of the production team multiple years with City at Peace DC, a youth group using theatre arts to teach nonviolent conflict resolution and cross cultural dialogue, Brandon is well versed in issues of oppression, inequality, theatre, and workshop facilitation. He has worked as a Peer Educator with Metro Teen AIDS and is a graduate of the Public Allies program. He serves the DC Youth Slam Team as a mentor and Teaching Artist, working with students in after school programs such as Higher Achievement. Brandon regularly hosts poetry slams and appreciates eccentric people.


Pages Matam


Pages Matam is an international artist & educator from Cameroon, Central Africa, currently residing in Washington D.C. He is the Director of Poetry Events for Busboys and Poets, a Callaloo Fellow, and Write Bloody published author of The Heart of a Comet (2014), which won Best New Book 2014 from Beltway Poetry Quaterly and was a Teaching for Change bestseller. A national and 2x regional poetry slam champion, he has passions in the field of education, violence and abuse trauma work, immigration reform and youth advocacy. He has been a featured artist and performer on Upworthy, Huffington, Okay Africa, Macy’s, The Pentagon, the Kennedy Center, the Apollo Theater, BET Lyric Cafe, TV One’s Verses & Flow (Season 4 & 5), The Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the Smithsonian African Art Festival. He has performed across the world in Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, Sweden, UAE. He is a proud gummy bear elitist, bowtie enthusiast, professional hugger and anime fanatic.