Dan "Sully" Sullivan • Poet • Educator
“He is the hip hop head in an ironic suit and tie. He cut his teeth as Oak Park’s battle champ. He is on some grown man ish. Sully is Chicago’s son. Sully is our boy. Sully has your back in the trenches, in the cipher, at the party, at the after-party, at the rally, in the classroom, on the page, on the mic, and the road less traveled. If Robert Frost knew Chi City, he would have talked about the two streets that diverged on the east side of Austin. Somehow, Sully has learned to take both. I hope my sons learn from him.”
-Denizen Kane (I Was Born With 2 Tongues/Typical Cats)
“Dan Sully’s work is like the kid you knew in college who threw the best parties. The kind of parties where everyone was invited. The Hip Hop heads, jocks, skateboarders, intellectuals, political radicals, foreign exchange students, and even the townies could show up and somehow the DJ would be able to keep everyone on the dance floor till sunrise. Dan Sully weaves together his myriad of influences with a trained pen and a workingman’s tongue.”
-Tim Stafford (HBO Def Poet/Editor of “Learn Then Burn: A Modern Day Poetry Anthology for the Classroom”)
“Sully came out to my school on the south west side of Chicago on a Saturday to work with my 7th and 8th grade Louder Than a Bomb Youth Poetry Festival (LTAB) team. I have a very committed and hard working group of students that have a natural talent for writing. Like many young performers, they needed much work on their stage presence and delivery of their written work. The two hours that Sully worked with my students was priceless. His expertise and experience in the world of poetry slam surpassed anything I would have been able to have done on my own as a new coach to LTAB. He went over mic basics, taught students tricks for body language and eye contact, and even performed some of his own work for us. Each of the eight students were also able to get individual coaching from him. The best part of the whole day is that my students had the opportunity to work with someone who truly loves what he is doing and was able to share this with them. For a few hours, we all felt like we were a part of his super cool club and I am so thankful that he took time out of his busy schedule to work with me and my students. It was an awesome day!”
-Stephanie Tsakeris (English Teacher, Tarkington Middle School, Chicago, IL)
“I first met Dan when he was an extremely apathetic, disaffected sixteen-year old kid sitting in my American Literature class. All interventions to engage him failed until it came to poetry writing. He became a rhyming machine and poetry saved him. Now he writes like he’s trying to save poetry. From obscurity.
Dan has maintained his musicality, but has amped up his accessibility and his poetic chops. He writes poems that are engaging and relevant. Personal and universal. His style matches his personality and the passion he possesses for building a supportive writing community.
With his creation of Urban Sandbox, Dan made his mark on the youth writing community and provided a place for the post-Louder Than a Bomb crowd to continue to share their voices in a safe, supportive place. For over ten years, he’s been an important advocate for this community and we’re all lucky for it. I’m proud to say that I was Dan’s teacher, that I am his friend and colleague, and that I continually learn from him.”
-Peter Kahn (Poet-In-Residence & Founder of the Oak Park River Forest High School Spoken Word Club)
“I first encountered Dan Sullivan eight years ago at a grimy open mic in Chicago and to this day I remember every second of his time on stage. Sully has that affect on people – a man who writes and performs from a such a pure, honest place that no one walks away untouched. He is smart without being condescending, a performer without pretense, a poetic everyman with crosshairs aimed directly at the sternum. His work continues to embody everything I love about spoken word.”
-J.W. Basilo (Author of the show, “No One Can Fix You”)
“I’ve worked with Dan on various projects over the past 10 years as a teacher and performer. When Dan’s on the gig, I get to relax a little because I know the gig will go well. He connects with youth effortlessly — it’s enviable, I’m telling you — audiences love him, and he’s generous to his fellow performers. I’ve learned a lot from Sully.”
-Mary Fons (Chicago Freelance Writer, Poet, Performer, Co-host of “Quilty” on PBS)
“Dan Sullivan is a modern day super hero to me and alot of other emcee’s, poets, musicians and those who enjoy various forms of creative expression. During a time in Chicago when more kids were joining gangs than after school programs, Dan and his friends gathered their resources, opened their doors and created an open mic called the “Urban Sandbox”. The Sandbox became home to many emcee’s, poets, singers and musicians of all creeds and colors and one of the few places that featured poets of all ages all without asking for an entrance fee just a simple donation.
I, like many others, am honored to say Dan is one of my heroes. Dan is a teacher, a mentor, an extraordinary poet who can take you around the entire city of chicago in a verse, a comedian who can make you laugh with a simple look or phrase and an emcee who can rip apart a cipher all off the top of the dome. Dan is a Chicago superhero.” -Add-2 (Hip Hop Recording Artist)
“For over 25 years I’ve had the opportunity to witness the early artistic growth of many performance poets/writers that would blossom into national and international success. I think I’m pretty savvy as to what it takes to be the ‘golden thread’ that makes the garment shimmer. Dan Sullivan has emerged as one of the golden threads in the fabric of service, passion, poetry, and performance known to the world as the Poetry Slam. I’d go all in betting that he’ll be pushing the next decades of slam forward toward new heights with his art, passion, and service.”
-Marc Kelly Smith, founder/originator of the International Poetry Slam Movement