Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Get Lit Classic Slam Blog 1



On April 28th, 2011 Get Lit-Words Ignite will be hosting Los Angeles’ first CLASSIC SLAM.  This citywide teen poetry slam is the first of its kind because teens will be slamming classic poetry (Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Lorca, Walt Whitman, Langson Hughes, Sylvia Plath, etc…) along with their own original poetry.

IN ADDITION… it involves teens from 18 different regions of Los Angeles County – including Compton, Watts, Santa Monica, San Gabriel Valley, San Rafael Valley, Hollywood, S Los Angeles, Inglewood and more…

Teens will compete for scholarships and bragging rights. But more than this … the CLASSIC SLAM will ignite and unite the teens of Los Angeles.  They will come together to share stories and to be inspired by the classics, both new and old, and even more important, each other. 

At Get Lit…

 “A classic isn’t a classic because it’s old… a classic is a classic because it’s great.”

Teacher’s training

Budget Cuts…

The nation's second-largest school system is facing an estimated $408-million shortfall.

They need to cut money from somewhere…and that somewhere is often, the arts.

After all, they are “extra.” Aren’t they? What’s really important are the 3 R’s… reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Interestingly, the Greek’s model was the 3 A’s… 

Academics, Athletics, Arts.

Seems more logical doesn’t it? We all know that different students are motivated to learn by different things. By cutting core Arts programs, we lose the ability to engage thousands of students in the love of learning.

And here is where we are...

But there is a solution!

Spoken word poetry has proved a very effective way to inspire teens to write and engage in the learning process. Get Lit adds the memorization of classic poetry to broaden the scope.

An evaluation by Professor James Catterall and his UCLA team calls it “immensely effective” and Producer Leo Eaton of the soon to air PBS special, “Arts in the Mind,” says, “Get Lit is different (from many arts programs), demanding discipline, hard work, and commitment. You hold their feet to the fire and expect great things, and we see in the program how your kids rise to meet the challenge. ”

So there we have it… PROBLEM … SOLUTION.

But with budget cuts – how do we connect the two?



If a child is hungry, you feed it. And the children of Los Angeles are hungry for knowledge, opportunity, inspiration and A CHANCE.  So we rallied 18 teachers from high schools/regions throughout Los Angeles County including Watts, Compton, Hollywood, South LA, Alhambra, San Gabriel Valley, Santa Monica, Pasadena, etc… and provided training in Get Lit’s curriculum.  With a $20,000 grant we received from the Angell Foundation, we are paying these teachers to teach our curriculum to their students over a 12 week period, impacting over 2,500 teens.  Many of these teens come from arts deprived schools whose students were hit particularly hard by budget cuts. And over the next 12 weeks they will be exposed to a myriad of new things.

Through Get Lit’s curriculum/workshops students are introduced to a wide variety of poetic styles from different time periods. They are instructed to analyze, memorize, and perform a classic poem that they select, grasping the vocabulary and high ideals of the piece while connecting the poem to their own lives.  They memorize facts about their poet’s life and share these with their class. Next they study poetic terms and form, analyzing the devices used in the poem they have selected, and then responding back to the piece with their own original poem. This poem may model the structure used in the original classic or simply be inspired by the theme, but it must reveal the student’s inner life and be a poetic gem in its own right. 

Next the students tackle the memorization and performance of a longer “group” poem along with a group response.  For example, students will memorize and perform “Charge of the Light Brigade,” as an intricate group piece and then turn around and perform a modern day spoken word response about the Iraq war or gang violence in Los Angeles. All of this culminates in a graduation ceremony where students demonstrate what they have learned for their parents, faculty and other their peers in the school.  

A final anthology of all of the students’ work is created and distributed to each student so they have a record of the entire experience. Students spend 12 hours in the class (often broken up into 12-week workshops) and many more hours outside of class memorizing poems, defining vocabulary definitions, researching information about their classic poets and the time period in which they lived, writing and editing their original poems and practicing their performances.  It is a very intense and transformative experience that leaves the students far more knowledgeable about themselves, poetry and the world around them.

At the end of the 12 week period, each of these 2,500 students will go through a “graduation” ceremony where they perform for each other, their parents, and their communities. Then some of the students will choose to go on and compete in a qualifying slam for a spot on their school’s team. Each school will have a team of 4-6 poet representatives. They will have 1 month to practice as a group and come up with 6 classic/response poems needed to compete in the CLASSIC SLAM quarterfinal, semifinal, and Grand Slam Finals events occurring April 27th and April 28th

There are 108 poets, 18 schools, and 1 ultimate champion. 

Teacher, Jose Moreno, from William Workman High School encapsulated this CLASSIC SLAM experience and opportunity perfectly when he said, “The other night, when I stood on the field at our school’s football game and watched those players under the lights, I thought… there’s got to be a way to get more kids into the light.”
“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”

William Butler Yeats

Get Lit...IGNITES!



1. (Military) a violent and sustained attack, esp with intensive aerial bombardment

2. any sudden intensive attack or concerted effort

3. (Team Sports / Football Terms (both Rugby & Soccer) American football a defensive charge on the quarterback


(tr) to attack suddenly and intensively

[shortened from German Blitzkrieg lightning war]



Brought to you by

Ned Colletti and the LA Dodgers

The Get Lit Players (Los Angeles’ award winning classic teen poetry troupe)

As defined in the dictionary, a blitz is any sudden intensive attack or concentrated effort. So what does this have to do with the Get Lit Players and poetry? And why are these select inner city teens visiting over 15 high schools and performing for over 10,000 teens from February 7th – March 15th 2012 ???
Because Los Angeles is in CRISIS

Have you heard?

Yesterday a bill hit the floor that would DEVASTATE charter schools in CA. LAUSD ARTS ED BRANCH theatre teacher friends found out that there will indeed be a ONE HUNDRED percent arts ed LAUSD cut. 100s of music, theatre, visual arts and dance teachers no longer have gigs.

We all know that arts education is the reason that many of us liked school in the first place. What we looked forward to. What gave us an identity. Where we found our voice. How can LOS ANGELES (of all places) deprive their youth of this experience?
While Washington, Sacramento, and school boards hash this out – more and more of our teens are slipping through the cracks. Less than 60% graduate high school and Los Angeles teen literacy rates are second lowest in the nation. (They have been for the past eight years.)

Something has to be done… and the Get Lit Players are stepping up to do it.

From February – March our Get Lit Players will be visiting high schools throughout Los Angeles County.

They will be performing classic poetry by Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Li Po, Edgar Allan Poe, Pablo Neruda, Lucille Clifton and more, as well as their own original poetry – all the while inspiring their peers to be readers, writers, leaders in their communities, and participators in the arts.


2/7, 2-3pm, CHAMPS: 6842 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, CA 91405

2/17, 10:45am; 12pm (noon), Ramon C Cortines VAPA: 450 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012

2/21, 10:46-11:46 am, 11:50-12:50 pm, Triumph School: 14019 Sayre Street, Sylmar, CA 91340

2/21, 2:05-3:30pm, Lakeview Charter High School: 919 Eighth Street, San Fernando, CA 91340

2/24, 2:00pm Washington Prep: 10860 S. Denker Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90047

2/27,10:55am – 12:00pm, East LA Performing Arts Academy: 456 S. Matthews Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033

2/27, 2-3pm, Roosevelt High School: 456 S. Matthews St., Los Angeles, CA 90033

2/28, 9:55am-10:35am, 11:30am-12:10pm , El Rancho High: 6501 S. Passons Blvd, Pico Rivera, CA 90660

3/1, 8-9:15am, Animo Inglewood Charter HS: 3425 W. Manchester Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90305

3/2, 10:20-11:30am, TAFT: 5461Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills, CA 91364

3/4,10:30-11am, Marriot, Irvine: 18000 Von Karman Avenue · Irvine, California 92612

3/7,9:45am-10:45am, Brentwood: 12001 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

3/12,10:25-11:22 am, 11:28-12:25 am, Van Nuys High: 6842 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91405

Click here for the pdf version.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Get Lit Gets to the White House by Diane Luby Lane

You’re Invited to the White House!
Washington D.C 2011

I got the call on Thursday… are you available to come to the White House for a Poetry Workshop next Wednesday,May 11th? You have to let us know by 2:00 tomorrow. WHAT? I had so many questions? Would the President or First Lady be there? Who were the Poets? How many other youth organizations were invited? Was the White House paying? HOW DID YOU GET OUR NAME & NUMBER???

Traci, the Executive Director of The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities wouldn’t tell me much. She said they had heard great things about Get Lit, and that 4 other organizations were invited. We had to pay ourselves. And this was all TOP SECRET! They wouldn’t tell us if the President or First Lady would be there, who the other poets were, and wouldn’t let us make any announcement at all to the press… We could bring 10 students –but how could I possibly get them all across country in 1 week?

I shared the dilemma with my husband who was emphatic – “You have to get to the White House! Do you know how many people are invited to the White House? NO ONE GETS TO GO TO THE WHITE HOUSE!” I told him,“Every year little kids get to go roll eggs down the White House lawn.” He retorted, “20 kids get to roll eggs down the lawn. 20 kids! You GET to the White House!”

So the next morning I called the families of my Get Lit Players… “I know this is unfair and I’m sure you’re not able…but if you are interested in going, the only way we can make this happen is if you contribute $600 towards the trip and get back to me within two hours with your child’s full name, social security number, birth date, middle initial, etc… Of course I left messages as everyone was in school, working – this wasn’t going to happen…Within two hours every family had responded. “We’re in!” If they had to beg, borrow, or steal, they found the funds, with some of the families who had a little more, helping out some of the families who had a little less.

And I immediately contacted our old friends at JetBlue Airways who had flown our Get Lit Players in the past. I was giving them NO notice but they were moved that our local teens had received this special invitation and weren’t going to let our kids down so they helped with the tickets. OH MY GOD! THANK YOU JETBLUE!!

And then my best friend in the world got on the phone with a friend of hers in DC who runs a mansion/hotel. She graciously gave us her place for free (sans cleaning charges.) CAN YOU IMAGINE – LOANING YOUR MANSION TO 10 TEENAGERS FOR 3 DAYS??? This was a miracle beyond belief. Not only was it gorgeous, it is located right in the prime area of Adams Morgan, ethnic center of D.C. and home to all the cool shopping and restaurants! Perfect!

AND THEN – the dad of one of our Get Lit Players (Bryan) - told a friend at Buick who he knows from having worked with GM about our situation and they stepped in with support that included a video crew and photographer who documented the trip and provided two Buick Enclaves with drivers to move our troupe around D.C. They would film our kids performing poetry at all of the historic landmark locations and call it POETRY IN MOTION… ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

We bit our tongues, dying to share the news that WE WERE GOING TO THE WHITE HOUSE, when one day the news broke to the press that the White House was having a poetry workshop and salon. Now everyone knew! And President Obama and Michelle WERE going to be there! And would our kids meet them??? This was too much!

Press started contacting me through all kinds of leaks…wanting to know “Are your kids one of the invited groups to go the White House? Can we interview them at the airport?” They even knew the airline and time we were flying! I begged the White House, “PLEASE, it’s such a great story! Three of our kids have never even flown before!” NO GO. So we told the press not to come… and got ready for the trip of our lives.

The night before we left, two of our 10 kids – Anika and Jazmine slept over. Aisha met us at my home and then we all drove together to the airport. The other Get Lit Players were there waiting for us, and all went off without a hitch. The JetBlue counter agent graciously moved many of our seats so we had windows, aisles, and were sitting close together and we got ready for take off! Anna and Aisha (our flying newbees – Ka’lynn too but she was taking her own plane because her mom had ironically already purchased a ticket for her to fly to DC for her sister’s college graduation from Howard) – held onto their seats and THERE WE WENT!!! UP IN THE AIR!!! I had to ask Aisha, do you know how to pop your ears? She didn’t but luckily she is an incessant gum chewer, which seems to have come in handy here!

After a great flight, we arrived at Dulles, got our bags, and onto our shuttle. We drove for about an hour when we finally arrived at our Biltmore Mansion. OMG! It was giant and looked like a New Orleans Manor home. It had sprawling gardens and more bedrooms than could be counted. My friend Andrea was there to greet us. She had gone out and bought multiple air mattresses and set each up with sheets, pillows, comforters, and brought in a ton of waters and snacks for the week for all of the kids. Unbelievable! Everyone was tired and hungry so we dropped our bags and went out to eat – a Mexican restaurant – right down the street. The food was delicious and luckily across the street from a Payless Shoe Store …Jazmine had forgotten her shoes!

After dinner we settled in and got ready for bed. Ooops! No internet connection! Thank God for Iphones! I had a ton of messages from General Motors about our Wednesday schedule. Pick up times (WHAT? I STILL CAN’T GET OVER THE FACT THAT WE ARE BEING ESCORTED TO THE WHITE HOUSE!) and our shoot in front of the first landmark – the Washington Memorial – which will happen BEFORE we enter the White House…and the poem that we will be doing. OMG! The poem we will be doing! Of course! The poem we “will be doing” is a Get Lit staple called, “When I Grow Up,” by Sekou Andrews. He has allowed us to perform it in the past but NOT FOR BUICK AND NOT FOR A WHIRLWIND TOUR OF WASHINGTON DC AND NOT WHILE BEING TAPED… And I don’t have his phone number! And it’s 11 o’clock at night! What are we going to do??? I frantically called everyone I knew back home who had his phone number and found his email and other numbers online. I left him a message, “Um.. Hi Sekou… remember me, Diane and Get Lit? You know how we love you, right? Well, what would you say if we perform your poem all over Washington DC…blah blah blah.” Then I went to bed. What could I do? What were the odds that he would say yes and that he would even get this message by tomorrow morning?? They were picking us up at 9 AM – 6 AM Sekou’s time…

First thing I did was check my email … (thank God for Iphones)… OMG – heart flutter, pitter patter… there was a message from Sekou… I opened it…I would be honored to have you perform my poem. My heart just melted,splat, all over the floor. No discussion about rights, contracts, money,nothing. Just, “Yes.” He said to say, “What’s up,” to the President and tell the kids to “Rock it.” Sekou himself had been invited and performed at the White House last year. He is a major artist/poet and of course most importantly HUMAN BEING. Thank you, Sekou!

2 GORGEOUS BRIGHT AND SHINY BUICK ENCLAVES ARRIVED TO PICK US UP … 1 white and 1 red. Our drivers were Fred and Marty. They were awesome. Explained the city to us as we drove to our first destination. THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT. We arrived. The Buick producers were there. Had the kids step out of the car, back into the car, and again – out of the car, and into the car. Now see the monument! Point to the monument! Smile! … Hmmm…. I have done commercials for the past 20 years…our Get Lit Players…? Not so much. They weren’t quite sure what was going on. I guess somebody – me - hadn’t properly explained that we weren't shooting a "commercial," we were shooting a documentary about how the Get Lit Players were “Poetry in Motion” and were
featuring the Buick cars getting us there! Anyway, once everyone finally piled out, they stood near the monument and began reciting “When I Grew Up,” and it was … great. There they were with the White House behind them, reciting some of the most powerful words I know…”Ask me now, am I too late? Ask me now what I want to do for a living…am I too late? Cause I think I finally figured it out…I don’t want to DO for a living…I want to BE for a living…”

Chills, hair rising on my arm, and then all of the other poets chiming in to recite all of their different parts… gorgeous. Interviews followed. I was so proud. These kids are all so smart and informed. They are such good ambassadors for the work that we do. I have watched them all grow so much. It was amazing. AND THEN WE WERE OFF – piling into the Enclaves again for lunch. We ate at a bustling, WDC hangout. Delicious. Hurry, hurry. We had 1 hour before we had to be at the White House. Teiji, Kelsey’s dad picked up the whole check! So amazing!! THANK YOU, TEIJI!

Our Enclaves pulled up. Other youth groups were there waiting. Most of those students wore suits. Our kids piled out in their POET t’s and so of course the press was all over them. Because what says “poetry event” better than 10 kids wearing “Poet” shirts? The New York post had our kids all line up, “Put the modely looking girl in the middle!” I had to laugh – Jazmine. GM made us all feel like stars with their shooting, interviewing us prior to going in, all the excitement… and then the panic! We don’t have our ID’s! Good God! We were told so emphatically to leave all bags behind, that some of the kids didn’t bring their ID’s … Ka’lynn, Aisha, Anna, and Jazmine. Entering security I felt like I was a character in Midnight Express…everyone got through except Anna. She’s 18. Luckily her bag was in the Enclave and they VERY NICELY came back around to drop it off to us. So she got in and we entered together. I took photos for her mom. Look Mom! Anna is entering the White House!!!

This was thrilling! Why? Because how many people get to enter the White House? As a matter of fact, last summer I went sightseeing in Washington DC with my family. See the picture OUTSIDE the gate? This was our Christmas Card. So exciting just to be OUTSIDE THE GATE. And now it was OPEN and we were through! Walking through those front doors was AMAZING. There were uniformed soldiers greeting us, massive paintings of past presidents, and the most ornate curtains and furnishings. There were hallways upon hallways, stairs upon stairs, until we came to a large open area.
Everyone was waiting here, movie stars like Kerry Washington, icons like Carolyn Kennedy (and her daughter) just in front of us.

Our kids ran up to us, “Kerry Washington wants a shirt!” I had brought a gift bag for the Obama family - POET shirts for President Obama, Michelle, and Sasha and Malia, plus a book from California Poet Laureate, Carol Muske-Dukes. I didn’t have an extra but we promised we’d get her one FAST and then were hustled inside of the room.

Great seats. Such a small space. Camera men all lined up against the back wall, up high, standing on platforms. The stage up ahead. What will happen? Elizabeth Alexander takes the stage. I remember the Inaugural Poem, “Praise Song For the Day,” she recited at President Obama’s Inauguration. She welcomes us. She tells us that 77 youth from around the country have been invited from Los Angeles, San Francisco, WDC, Chicago, Detroit and New York. She introduces two more speakers and then suddenly she is introducing … Michelle Obama!!!

Have you ever met a Queen?
I haven’t. Full disclosure here. I am not wowed by movie starts, celebrities, personalities. I live in Hollywood for God’s sake. I run into Aerosmith in the grocery store (and I’m not kidding!) So I was not prepared for my reaction to Michelle. First of all, she was a few feet away from me. Second of all, she is gorgeous. I know you’ve seen her in photos. Don’t trust your eyes. Because whatever you have seen, has not done her justice. I guess some people are like that. She is very tall. Her skin is taut and shiny. Like she uses million dollar, shimmery
creams. Her clothing impeccable. Also shimmery. Creamy. Colored peach, which personally sets off her cocoa skin. She is strong. And confident. Intimate and commanding, formal and non chalant, all at the same time. She is greeting Mexico’s First Lady - Margarita Zavala, BONUS! - who is a good friend and also happens to be here. And then she is welcoming us. She says we have been specially invited because
we are good at what we do and so we have been chosen to receive instruction from some of the best poets in the nation. And after we do, we must go back to our communities and spread the word that poetry is IMPORTANT. That the arts are NECESSARY. We must become ambassadors for the work and the word. And Michelle has this quality that when she speaks, it appears as if she is looking in YOUR eyes, and
speaking directly to YOU.

We heard her loud and clear.
And then each of the invited poets gets up and speaks. (See Link) our Get Lit Players get up and ask questions (Kelsey, Jazmine, and Tayllor.) Kelsey raises her hand and is the first youth to speak. She is so brave and inspired by these great poets. I think that Billy Collins is my favorite speaker, in part because my son, Luke, performs his classic “The Lanyard,” and in part because he is so funny and smart. Aimee Mann is Aisha’s favorite. And Kenneth Goldsmith is Daniel’s favorite… there is something here for everyone.

That evening we go back to the White House, the Eisenhower room, for a special screening of the Poetry Event hosted by Barack Obama himself. 40 other teens join us. We watch Steve Martin, Jill Scott, Common, Billy Collins, and others do their thing. They are fantastic. Special highlights for us … Jill Scott “I’m a G,” Billy Collins’ “The Lanyard,” and of course Common, … “With one King's dream he was able to Barack us…”

I’m exhausted now because it’s been A LONG DAY but do you think our teens are? NO! There is an open mic at Busboys & Poets and we’re going!

So we pile into our Enclaves and go. Busboys & Poets is inspired by the fact that Langston Hughes used to be a busboy in this area, and of course was a poet. They have AWESOME open mics, a gift shop, restaurant and so much color and SOUL. The kids all sign up and I meet Tayllor and her mom to eat.

Later we hear that Anika, Aisha, Junior and Jazmine all got up – all killed it and then Jazmine got a standing ovation. I’m so glad our kids have a chance to get it out of their systems and SHINE. That night it’s back to the Mansion. Of course everyone is up talking, hanging out. I TELL THEM GO TO BED – Buick will be back tomorrow morning at 8 AM! Poetry in Motion Part II!!!

For whatever reason, everyone gets up excited to go. SHOCKING considering that these are teens and it is 6:30 AM! But they do. Marty and Fred pull around in the Buicks and it’s like seeing old friends! We get to first location, the steps of Lincoln Memorial and the kids stand on the steps and begin their poem again…“When I Grow Up” … and it’s Aisha (who begins it.) And I don’t know what it is – the Lincoln Memorial behind her, her deep sonorous voice, the enthusiastic and truthful way she performs, the blue sky above her, all the beautiful faces of her fellow poets around her, the empty space of Martin Luther King looming in the distance just beyond her shoulder… for whatever reason … it is THRILLING to watch her. To hear her. It is what poetry is supposed to be. Life changing, powerful, altering. I watch the Buick photographer shooting this and again, I am so grateful to them for providing this opportunity and for documenting our Poets performing all over the city like this. It is AMAZING!!!

Next it’s Anna. “I wanna provide children with their first definition of HOT!” And Ka’lynn: “I don’t wanna be the singer, I wanna be sound…the song you sing the way you sing it when you think ain’t nobody else around!” And Junior: “I wanna speak antibiotic poetry to defeat your life’s viruses…but only if you take my words in three times a day until the entire bottle is gone!”

And then we stop at the Washington Monument again. Only this time, the backdrop
is the Washington Monument and not the White House and it Jazmine’s turn. We are getting her ending. Jazmine has been a Get Lit Player for four years. She started at 14 and a freshman and now she is 18 and a senior. I have literally watched her grow up. Jazmine is 6’ tall and stunning, but more than that, she has emerged as some kind of a Malcolm X. She is powerful. Her voice is like thunder. She says: “I wanna be the opposite of darkness when I grow up. So that when the greatest poet in existence…recites the first line…of the greatest poem ever written…GROUP LINE: “Let there be light!” Jazmine: “Then I can Begin…”

Watching these beautiful young people, their voices lifted in unison under the blue sky, I swear I see it open and blessings pour out. And when Jazmine speaks, her voice is so strong, it causes reverberation, a trailing echo, which seems to come up out of the Monument itself. The monunment stands erect in the background, just behind her long neck which is its mirror image. Jazmine’s hair is blowing back. Her gaze is in the distance – and when she says, “Then, I can begin…” it seems the most powerful thing I have ever heard.

And I marvel at these young Poets in our Nation’s capital. I marvel at the power of their collective voices and at the power of their individual ones too. I see how much they have all grown and I realize the power of the arts to give a person confidence, experience, education and opportunity to display those gifts and share them with others. Their talent is a living testament to this work and now they have been called to share it and to waken other youth from their slumber and dreams of inadequacy, lost opportunities, and mediocrity. I know not every youth in the country has access to a “Get Lit” but they do have access to books…and that is the message. Open them, read them. And maybe these incredible youth will inspire other youth to do just that.

Next stop: Capital Building. Some final shots of our Poets. Pick up lines. Anika recited a really nice poem written by someone from Buick. Some final interviews. And we left. GOOD BYE Tara.

Monday (the Buick photographer) camera man, and sound guy! THANK YOU! Later Ka’Lynn said, “I didn’t even say goodbye!” But NOT so long to Buick because they arranged for Marty and Fred to continue to drive us around for the day. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? They made us feel so incredibly special!

We went back to the Lincoln Memorial, so we could really spend some time there, actually go inside. And now let me mention and additional member of our team, my
good friend and Get Lit Board Member, Jill Rosenthal. Jill volunteered to go on this trip with me. Everyone thought that I’d need help managing 10 teens on my own –HA! I thought. Well, were they ever right! And Jill went to Georgetown Law School so she knows DC like the back of her hand. Jill had been chomping at the bit to take the kids on a guided tour of the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Memorial. Now that the kids were starting to calm down from the excitement of the visit to the White House, Jill wanted to give the poets an opportunity to really “connect” to the human history behind some of the landmarks they’d been performing in front of. As they stood before the statue of Abraham Lincoln, she pointed out that the position of his hands on the arms of his chair make the sign language symbols for “A" and & “L” – his initials – and then explained that the sculptor of the statue -- Daniel Chester French -- had a deaf son.

Coincidence? Maybe. But Jill explained that Abraham Lincoln signed the federal legislation giving Gallaudet University, a university for the deaf, the authority to grant college degrees, so it was not unlikely that the position of the hands was the sculptor’s private way of honoring a man who had helped pave the way for deaf people like his son. COOL! She also pointed out that Leonardo DiVinci sometimes embedded hidden messages in his art by placing his subjects hands into sign language symbols.

Next, Jill had the kids walk in a single line along the wall of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, making them promise not to say a word until they got to the other side. I wondered if they’d get it. This was not their generation’s war afterall. The memorial is nothing but a black marble wall with names carved into it. But when the kids arrived on the other side, it was clear several were visably moved from the experience of physically viewing the individual name of every single soldier who died in that war. Looking at name after name – the walls rising higher and higher above your head for as far as the eye can see – is mesmerizing...all those names. We even had to go back and get Jazmine – who stood with tears in her eyes, frozen on the spot where she had watched a mother point to the name of her son on the wall and realized that “every name on that wall was somebody’s baby.” She later said she composed several poems right on that spot!

Jill explained that the design for the memorial was chosen in a blind competition open to the greatest architects in the world, and that the winner had been a college student! Only fitting, since it was college students who rose up to protest and ultimately end that war! The power of words! The power of believing in something! The power of teens!!!

Jill finished off the tour with a viewing of the statue of The Three Soldiers, pointing out how their eyes reflect the “100 yard stare” common to soldiers who have experienced the horrors of war – a stare that doesn’t seem to focus on anything. Sure enough, no matter how much they moved around, they couldn’t get the statues eyes to seem to “focus” on them. The kids were fascinated by that detail -- particularly Anna.

I never would have known how much knowledge feeds her. Once again, the power of art to inspire! I marveled how many new poems would come from their experience today. And I was surprised that something which happened so far out of their generation could have such an impact.

Jazmine spoke about how her “great grandfather” fought in this war and I almost died! Great grandfather! Good Lord!

Then we went home. Regrouped. Had some downtime and made plans for the night. Some of the kids went shopping. Others went for an excursion through the woods, outward-bounds style, for a little bonding and emotional release.

Call of the Wild
We took the advice of some people and went to an open mic near Howard University. This was the first time we were ON OUR OWN… we had bid our dear Marty, Fred, and Buick Enclaves goodbye! It was cabs for us – which cost a bloody fortune! They dropped us off in nowhere’s land… and have I mentioned that Washington DC was once the murder capital of the country? And that I am legally responsible for these 10 young people? And that the club we have found ourselves at is in what appears to be an abandoned building in the middle of Timbuctoo???

Well, yeah… it was. I’m not scared of much and I wasn’t scared now either… though I’m sure that many people would have been! We ascended the endless set of stairs up up up, not a soul in site, until we got to a room. Humble, vacant, six broken chairs facing each other in a circle in the center of the room. Hmmm? This is the hot open mic you all heard about?

Starting in 15 minutes??? Suspect. Strange. Some of the kids were nervous. It was time to go. So we went out to the street. Time to get a cab back. Bummer. $40 for … ? And now we had to spend another $40 to get back. That is if we ever got back. Apparently cabs didn’t come here. So we waited and waited and waited…Jill said, “Did you know WDC used to be murder capital of the country?” Yes, GOT IT, Jill! Eventually we saw a bus. I ran down and flagged it and we all hopped on. This caused major reaction amongst the passengers inside, especially one, loud, and liquored up guy who reacted to Anika and me sitting next to him with “I ain’t sitting next to no white girls!” We had such a huge group that the bus had to start while we were still looking through our pockets for change, causing our disgruntled neighbor to start demanding to know if we’d paid. “Kick ‘em off -- How you gonna get on a bus without any money?!” It took Ka’Lynn, our youngest ambassador (15) and heart of the Get Lit group to mollify everything. “Hey, how you all doing? We’re from California!

We’re poets!” By the end of this bus ride (which was just to a better place to hail a cab), Ka’lynn had them all waving to us, wishing us well, and the bus driver telling us not to worry about paying! Look out for Ka’lynn, by the way… She is a powerhouse and going to be LETHAL!!

While we’re waiting for a cab in this very urban and raw neighborhood I look over at Aisha and Anna who have wanderlust in the their eyes. Aisha says, “I just want to go.” She doesn’t want to jump a cab back to normal. She wants to keep on riding out into life. She wanted to stay on that bus, mixing with locals and letting her antennas fly out, uncensored. And I feel her. I remember what it was to be young and want to experience life. In fact, I still feel it. Raw, undying life sometimes lies outside schedules, plans and safety. This reminds me that I have to give Aisha the Goethe quote from Faust: “I want frenzied excitements, gratifications that are painful, love and hatred violently mixed,anguish that enlivens, inspiriting trouble.Cured of my thirst to know at last, I’ll never again shun anything, distressful; from now on my wish is to undergo all that men everywhere undergo, their whole portion, make mine their heights and depths, their weal and woe, everything human embrace in my single person, and so enlarge my soul to encompass all humanity…”

But as her chaperone and legal guardian, I have to escort her back to safety. Still, secretly, I’m glad she’s had the taste of the wild and I know that this part of the trip (however short) will be one that she remembers.
Isn’t that what poetry is? And all of art? The cultivation of the wild?

Ethiopian Restaurant…
We get back to our neighborhood and are starving. I’ve just spent $80 in cabs though on an aborted trip and so am not about to spring for another $200 dinner… so we look for pizza. But it’s our last night together and no one wants to eat a random slice on the corner. Jill spots an Ethiopian restaurant and asks if the kids are up for the adventure! Referring to the huge population of Ethiopians (including our most recent cab driver,) Jill says “If you are going to eat Ethiopian, no better place than DC!”

Hmmm . . . interesting . . . well, at least we can all eat around one table and be together, so we go inside…Have you ever eaten Ethiopian food? I have not. And it is very very . . . interesting, especially when you’re exhausted and punch drunk and 42 and sitting at a table with 9 teenagers and two sock puppet creatures (a giraffe and a whale who lived on Anna and Aisha’s fingers…)

Jill (the most cultured among us) orders for the table, and out comes a huge pan with some kind of flat spongy bread on the bottom and a few piles of what look like smashed beans. The waitress just lets it sit in front of Daniel - a huge boy and
actually our incredible, genius photographer -- just sitting. Everyone looks at Jill. She laughs: “That’s just the platter and garnish, don’t worry, there’s more coming!” Next the waitress places several plates of the same spongy bread rolled up like napkins. We start to poke at it, not sure whether to eat it or put it in our lap. A few of us start to giggle. Then the food came – pile after pile of food we’ve never seen before, mashed, minced, but some with whole carrots, a whole egg,a leg of chicken meat still on the bone …and nothing to eat it with but the spongy bread! Hilarious! Not really. But as I previously explained, anything is funny when you’re punch drunk and exhausted. Half the table (the cultured half!) dug in like rock stars and enjoyed the whole experience while the rest of us laughed and laughed at trying to mop up whole carrots with spongy bread and the seeming absurdity of it all. Felt good to let off steam . . .

Back at the house, time to pack it up. Shuttle bus was coming at 6:45 AM. Ugh! There was time for a quick tarot card reading though. Anika and I spent an hour reading each other’s cards. It was a perfect way to connect and share our fears and hopes for the future – as we ended a deliriously rich trip.

Miraculously – we got up on time, packed up our things, cleaned up the house and boarded the bus. So long Biltmore!!!

Thank you!!! Jill gets the shuttle driver to tell the few kids (who are awake!) what it was like to be in Washington D.C. on 9/11, how he saw smoke rising from the Pentagon, while everyone was talking about the twin towers in New York,and how it felt when he learned his city had also been targeted. The kids were riveted, having forgotten until that moment Washington D.C.'s role in that fateful day!

Plane ride home was perfect. (THANK YOU AGAIN, JETBLUE!!) Parents picked up their children – our illustrious poets. We are different for going. We shared something very special - last weeks events, a better insight into who each of us are, confidences, secrets, inside jokes, and most importantly – a charge from the First Lady of America to go back to our city and share what we’ve learned. To PASS IT ON!

I have always been the type of person who likes to give more than I receive… so I will accept the First Lady’s challenge. We at Get Lit will be ambassadors for the word. We will share the White House’s message about the importance of the arts. We will share poetry with teens throughout this city. And we will rock Los Angeles with poetry in a way that has not previously been seen… Wait and see!!!

In closing I would like to give a special thanks to all those who made this trip possible for us…THANK YOU

JetBlue Airways
Linda & John Quigg and the Maison Biltmore
Jimmy & Judi Collins
Andrea Zomber
Richard Hansen
Laura Sillerman
James Catterall
Carol Muske-Dukes
Eric Borsum
Jill Rosenthal
Our Get Lit Players & their high schools:
Aishah Allah, Los Angeles, 16, sophomore, home schooled.
Bryan Erickson, Los Angeles, 18, senior, LA Center for Enriched Studies
Junior Herrera, Alhambra, 17, senior, Alhambra High School
Anika Jade Levy, Sherman Oaks, 16, sophomore, CHAMPS Charter High School
Tayllor Johnson, Los Angeles, 17, senior, Santa Monica High School
Kelsey Kawana, Los Angeles, 17, junior, Poly Tech in Pasadena
Anna Osuna, Alhambra, 18, senior, Alhambra High School
Daniel Schaefer, Studio City, 17, senior, CHAMPS Charter High School
Jazmine Williams, Venice Beach, 18, senior, Hamilton High School
& their families

Friday, January 15, 2010

2009 Get Lit Player BLITZ!!! - day to day blog – A.Antoinette

This BLITZ was made possible by the Flourish Foundation!

Day 1 –
It’s really early, and my hope is that this “BLITZ” goes swiftly with some success. Let’s be honest, when you ask kids (high school kids at that) about their joy for reading, well, one should have little to no expectations.
None the less, it’s early and I am ready. This is year four with Get Lit-Words Ignite; this is “my life’s work” and I have been gone out of corporate America too long to pick up where I left off, so…you should meet our BLITZ crew before I go on…

Me, I am Azure Antoinette. Artistic Director/Coach/Poet – basic, I run around with the GLP’s and my Executive Director Diane.
Dario – resident beatboxer, 3 year GLP and SOUND for the crew. He is “that guy.”
Bri – newest GLP all the way from UTAH, talent is ILL, she makes me want to take a trip there someday, but not today.
Jazmine – she is tall, and happens to be 3rd year GLP too, this one can write, perform and bring the house down in a stanza.
Jordan – youngin’, baby gap, oh yeah and a POETRY PRODIGY, don’t sleep on this kid, he has Laureate written all over his palms.
Ryan – MC, resident hip hop of the GLP’s, 3 year vet, and lets just say we go to the end of the earth to pick him up to make sure he is at the show. Ryan never disappoints.
Diane – that is our fearless leader, she is the mastermind behind Get Lit, booked this BLITZ for us, the reds of my eyes, thank her…and now for the story.

Zane Grey High School
We (Dario, Briauna and myself) arrive at the office of Zane Grey, in the valley, normal looking continuation school, lots of grey, the blank looks from students, all the “emotion” we are used to.

Get in the class, and it is starting to feel a little warmer, I open up with commentary mixed with performance and you can start to see the expressions melt into interest, then here comes Dario, followed by Bri, and wouldn’t you know it, we got some laughs, some author names, and a grip of questions! Zane Grey was a great way to start the BLITZ but I never could have guessed what was waiting for us at John Wooden HS just down the block…

“They were all so fantastic. I wish we could find funding to have you guys come regularly!” - Mayda Yetenekian, teacher

John R Wooden High School
Now, in spoken word, there is “LIVE”, there is “FLY” and then there is just plain “BANANAS”! Wooden HS was one of the highlights of my year and a definite high point for the BLITZ. The students were alert, FULL of energy, never let the vibe drop and 11 students got up for the official “OPEN MIC” that we do at the end of each show. Ya’ll should know 11 is doing BIG things, MONUMENTAL.

There were so many performers in the audience that we let them perform throughout the show as opposed to waiting to the end, we had singers, writers, and MC’s. Dario on the vocal 1’s & 2’s (that’s beatboxing) and the MC’s calling the tempos and slinging the rhymes. The energy of the left side of the auditorium was so palpable it gave me chills.

If I could summarize the experience into one sentence it would be this – schools like Wooden is why Get Lit is necessary, the youth is hollering for someone to pay attention, to recognize that they are present and have a voice.

No sooner did the assembly finish, my blackberry was buzzing, it was our Executive Director, Diane Luby Lane, she says “hey honey, how did it go?”. I said “yo Di, it was sooooo FLY!”, I preceded to fill her in on the pandemonium that ensued.

Day 1, was a success, and that is putting it mildly.

“Whoa! My students got lit! … My students declared this the best assembly they have seen!” - Brenda Young, John Wooden teacher

"The poetry you guys come up with is epic and mind-blowing…” Marlon Galario, student

Day 2

Fairfax High School
I was 23, the whites of my eyes were less pink then they are now, this was my first HS show, Fairfax HS, nestled in that part of Hollywood where people aren’t really sure what trend to follow, so, they follow as many as they can.

Fairfax will always be special to Get Lit, this is the HS where we cast our first troupe of Get Lit Players, who have gone on to UCLA, SMCC, and universities out of state.
Get Lit has had avid support from Pat Abrams, facilitator of the “Poetry Club” and (recently retired) head of the English department. This year we were invited back for the 2009 BLITZ by Jaime O’Halloran. Interesting tidbit, Ms. O’Halloran is the SOLE reason that I got involved with Get Lit 4 years ago. I found the website through a blog thread that she posted, otherwise, I never would have known…thank God for technology.

Coming to Fairfax is familiar and the performance and environment is always welcoming. We had 2 shows back-to-back, good crowd and even had a few students come through for the open mic. All and all, a “good look” for day 2.

“The performances were very worthwhile and communicated meaningfully with the audience. Thank you for identifying such talents and working so deeply with these students. The messages they convey are profound and important. I am certain that under your guidance they have grown immeasurably and will continue to do so.” - Pat Abrams, Fairfax High

“As the words flowed out of their mouths I couldn’t help but think, this is what I want to be about!” – Lily Varga, student

Day 3

Van Nuys High School

Can I just say – BEAUTY.
Yes, that is the only word to describe this theatre, and the tech guys (two amazing teens we want on our crew!) were a prayer that we had never prayed.
We travel a great deal, in state and out, and it is so rare to be treated with such compassion from the administration and the students.

Van Nuys was, intro music from Jay-Z, a sprawling stage that I ran side to side for the official Get Lit “audience sound check” and again, the LEFT side was SUPER LIVE! Van Nuys HS was FRESH, like new pair of Nike Dunks FRESH.
Van Nuys was a HUGE crowd but the thing that sticks out to me the most was the silence when I asked for the audience to “give it up” for literacy. It was staggering, and by no fault of the students. Books are not touch screen, they are not instant, nor bbm or app capable. So to the current generation, they are becoming obsolete, and for some, they simply don’t exist. I digress, to paraphrase, “how many of ya’ll are reading currently?!” (cricket, cricket) “okay okay, why don’t you shout out the names of the songs that on in rotation on your ipod?!” (verbal chaos from the crowd). I want the cheers to be equal, like screams and excitement dipped in sincerity, cause when I think of the poetry, the excerpts, the novels that have taken residence in my memory I get chills, if only we could recite classic and canonical literature and poetry through the form of spoken word…OOPS we DO!

We performed twice at Van Nuys, back-to-back and when we left we were sated. I believe the classic poems mixed with the original pieces gave the student body something to think about. Here is to progress, here is to the work of CHANGE.

“Teachers and students alike have been talking about you guys!! They LOVED the performance. I have overheard students talking about the fact that it really made them think about life more deeply… You and your storytellers were a fabulous hit!!! Thank you so much for sprinkling the magic of poetry into our lives.” - Suzanne Ozman, Head Librarian Van Nuys High

Day 5

Camino Nuevo

Former Get Lit Player, Gabriel Cortez said “ya’ll really pack em in”…he speaks only truth. Camino Nuevo looks more like a MOCA exhibit than a High School, there is concrete in an artistic way and metal mesh and steps, and and and. In other words, this is not the high schools I remember. There is a different vibe here, the teachers project a peace that I don’t normally encounter in LAUSD High Schools, Camino is a charter. The students are in uniform here and the smiles are free. We head to the auditorium after we were offered fresh coffee and fruit - yes this is the good life.

The students file in, teachers in tow, who by the way go in the ‘chillest staff EVER column’, before long the students line the walls eager to see what we are bringing. I have a full Get Lit crew today, Bri, Dario, Ryan, and Jordan. I open, per my usual, and you would have thought I gave all of them gifts, I must say there is no greater joy than the connection a performer feels to the audience when they are ‘feelin’ you. The GLP’s smashed the show, it was smiles abound and I had no critique. I was full of thanks and gratitude to see tax dollars at work, and so blown by the beauty of the students, teacher and that eloquent campus.

Camino, Get Lit wont forget you, and once more, we will be back.

“The GetLit Players were phenomenal in their capacity to connect with our students and to engage them in meaningful dialogue about the power of the spoken word. Our students were enraptured by the various voices and styles brought by the GetLit poets, and displayed a rarely seen focus and passion for the presentation. GetLit’s fine balance of approachability and highly refined skills encouraged our budding poets to apply some of the observed techniques in their own nascent poetry.”
–P.Tiller 10th Grade Humanities Teacher, Camino Nuevo High School

“… I enjoyed when two poets recited a poem at the same time. I also enjoyed the way all of the poets used different literary devices like, rhyme, rhythm, repetition that we had been learning in English.” Nestor F. Grade 10, Camino Nuevo High School

Day 6


This was great day, and not to mention 2 of Get Lit’s most notable players attend and graduated from this fine establishment.

Ryan Jafar graduated in 2008 with honors. (We met him as a Junior at LACES and now he is a freshman at UC Riverside.) He’s made his mark on the teen poetry world as well as the hip-hop globe at large (no joke).

Jordan Jace is known to us as “the prodigy” - joined Get Lit back in April and is 13. He gives ALL (I do mean to include myself) a run for the money we don’t have.

I arrive with one of our interns and Ryan - we are greeted by his “fan club” with conversation like, ‘we miss you’ and ‘how is your life?’. Ryan is what we call “low key” and a ladies man so he just shrugs, smiles, says ‘im good, and I miss you too’. Oh man, it is funny runnin’ round with these guys. They keep me grounded and laughing. Swear this campus looks just like Bayside High.

We met several LACES students who were very excited to see Ryan and Get Lit do their thing, as such the library filled up. Briana, Ryan, Jordan and myself did a 50 minute set, talked with the audience and had 4 open mic performers. This audience was astute, however still quiet on the “does anyone know what literacy means?” tip. They knew, but no one wanted to hip me (smile).

“It opened the world of poetry to me!” Mariele Saunders-Schultz, student


So you got your Starbucks and cafeteria, but have you ever seen a coffee lounge in a public high school. We did, it was here at Franklin, one word. DOPE.

We performed at Franklin last year, it was just Dario and myself, our thought about it, “okay, let’s do this, one more show”…right.

It blew the 2 of us away completely, we walked into a low light space full of bistro tables, facing a stage with red lights, chalk full of students, it was an in-school café/open mic. To say the least, we were excited. Oh right, the show, well that was a success this year and the last, our favorite part about this school is the energy of the students and the man behind it all, David Levine.

If you are ever going to talk of love for what one does or going the extra mile, make sure you include Mr. Levine.

“Get Lit players blended modern and classic poetry seamlessly and allowed my students to see connections between hip hop and Herman Hesse… I can't say enough about what you have created here… Once again Getlit players knocked it out of the park…” - David Levine, Lead Teacher, MEGA Academy, Franklin HS

Day 7

Paramount HS

We were invited here by Nancy Himmel - a teacher who completely embraces the arts. She booked the Get Lit Players for a teacher’s conference earlier in the year which was a huge success - however, teachers versus students, well that is a Grand Canyon of difference.

I couldn’t have expected that Paramount would have turned out to be the show that it was. The auditorium was full, the students LIVE for back to back shows, and we had SEVERAL students come up perform for the open mic session. Not to mention the heart felt letters we received, we will let you read excerpts for yourselves… We have one school left to go.

“The Get Lit Players send out such an aura of delight and confidence as they perform their poems that students and teachers alike cannot help but be drawn in. What an amazing inspiration they are!” - Nancy Himel, Lead Teacher, Paramount High

“Your performance at PHS was the bomb… All those poems seemed like they were knocking on the door of my heart.” Kerry Nelson, student

Day 8

Hamilton HS

Much like Fairfax, Hamilton is like 2nd skin, Jazmine Williams who is a "seasoned" GLP hails from these halls, as does Daniela (an original GLP) who has gone onto college, but her dad still resides as President of the Get Lit Board.

Hamilton holds a special place for Jazmine and me - I performed at this very drama classroom 3 years ago where Jazmine in the audience decided to audition for the GLP's based on my performance. This was the last show for Get Lit in 2009 and the best way to end the Blitz.

Dario, Briauna, Jazmine and Jordan ushered out the year with a moving performance, a eager handful of open mic'ers. I must say that overall, this is the best work, the kind of work that really isn't.

Thank you for reading, this is Azure Antoinette, peace poet, saying “write now, or forever hold your PEACE.

Look for us in twenty10, it is going to be the YEAR, we can feel it.

Feedback from Get Lit Players 2009 In-School BLITZ Made Possible by the Flourish Foundation

Franklin High:
“Thank You so much for bringing Get lit to Franklin HS. Your students were incredible. I don't think there has been one group that has performed at my school that has kept my students complete attention. Your kids were talented, original, inspirational and yet approachable. The whole experience was fantastic. Getlit players blended modern and classic poetry seamlessly and allowed my students to see connections between hip hop and Herman Hesse. They invited two of my students to participate and they were so nurturing and reassuring that my students felt comfortable enough to come and share their poetry too. I can't say enough about what you have created here. I have some students who are interested in auditioning so please let me know about audition dates. Once again Getlit players knocked it out of the park and entertained and educated my often apathetic students. Thanks Getlit, come back as soon as you can.”
David Levine, Lead Teacher, MEGA Academy, Franklin HS

Paramount High:
“Thanks for the wonderful performance. Your original poems were moving and powerfully performed. The language and images were stunning and SO TRUE. The poems you performed by other authors were well-chosen! My students were inspired to pay more attention to language and to even write some of their own poetry. You did more in 50 minutes than I can accomplish in a week with the textbook!”
Tony Durante’s Junior level Language Arts Classes, Paramount High School

Paramount Student’s – from Tony Durante’s Class:

“The performance was awesome! You guys inspire me and you guys made me cry.” Amiel jai Zubiri

“The performance was very good! Every poem was full of emotions. I believe every poem made many people open their eyes to see the world differently!” Sonia Maldonado

“I loved the fact that they used feelings and emotions when they read the poems out loud, it actually gave me the chills when they was talking with such feeling.” Deyanira Garcia

“I really enjoyed the poems. The poems were powerful and they spoke the truth… This presentation gave me a respect for poets and there art.” Manuel Gonzalez

“I had a great opportunity watching all you perform, it was a great experience to see something different, it made realize how people use words to express their feelings, one day I might become a poet.” Jerramie Jackson

“I loved your guy’s performance yesterday; it taught me to express my opinions more and emotions rather than keeping them in and letting it all build up into frustration. I now know that poetry can be a problem-solving method. Thank you.” Amber Rios

“Hey Get-Lit… I really enjoyed your performance yesterday. The poems all of you shared with us really grasped my attention. I felt the pain and the other emotions that were coming through the poems. It had even inspired me to continue writing poetry again.” Kyra Medlock

“I really enjoyed the poetry and how you can make your own poem out of you life experience.” Hilary Rojas

“You guys were great keep it up and represent for LA.” Alejandro Ruiz

“I liked the performance yesterday it was very inspiring because it taught you a lot about literature...“ Ashley Torres

“Your guys performance was outstanding an each one of you was unique an I loved it, you made me want to read poems and express myself my artistically.” Lillian Vega

“The Get Lit Performance was amazing. It was something I did not expect it to be. I would love to see them again perform. It was very unique and original. I’m not much of a writer of a poet, but I do know some stuff about literature. Ireally appreciate that you guys took time to come here and perform.” - Octavio Alarcon

“I enjoyed the poems. I have never really been interested into poetry but yesterday’s performance was great! I liked it because they talked about conflicts us teenagers go through everyday.” Yaritza Zamudio

“When the group Get Lit performed their poems it inspired me a lot to express myself on paper.” Christian Reyes

“I really enjoyed the poems it was great having u guys read your original poems they were really good, I like that they were deep they got to me and I know they got to others too.” Jose Lopez

From Nancy Himel:
“Today I was so amazed at the thank you letters my students wrote. They still remembered lines, how Dario's home didn't feel like a home, how Jazmine saw wings on a girl, and how sad they felt for some of the words in Brianna's poem. My kids felt empathy and were willing to admit that poetry could astound and bring people together…The Get Lit Players send out such an aura of delight and confidence as they perform their poems that students and teachers alike cannot help but be drawn in. What an amazing inspiration they are!”
Nancy Himel, Lead Teacher, Paramount High

Paramount Students - From Nancy Himel’s Class:

“Your poems sent shivers down my spine through the whole performance.” Richard Hency

“My spirit was lifted by the ways you guys showed me how fun poetry can really be!...I know Get Lit touched many people’s hearts and cheered people up…. Your performances were outrageous!” Erick Soza

“Your performance at PHS was the bomb… All those poems seemed like they were knocking on the door of my heart.”
Kerry Nelson

“…I think that you were put in the world to inspire people.” Daniel Zavaleta

“…I felt you guys spoke the truth and nothing but the truth, which made it more interesting and inspiring. I was astonished to see how teens, just like me, could be so creative when writing a piece of their unique work. It seemed as if you guys not just connected with me, but with the entire audience, and for that I loved I had the opportunity to be
there.” Isaac Torres

“Your confidence and emotion shown while reciting your poems left me speechless. When it seemed as if you guys were pouring your heart out while reciting your work, I began to think I should do what I enjoy also. With your words, I began to take into consideration that with a bit of effort, great things are produced. Your words, inspiring and
motivating, made me believe I should feel free to do what I desire, despite what others think…” Jackie Chavez

“To tell you the truth I don’t like poems but somehow I like yours.” Iram Soto

“Your performance at Paramount High School was a success to me because each one of you poets inspired me to write poems when I’m alone in the car or when I’m bored. When I heard that a group of teenagers were going to come to our high school I wasn’t looking forward to it. I always thought poetry was boring, but when you guys performed for
us Paramount High School students I was speechless.” Omar Herrera

“Poetry was never really my thing, but now because of the way that all you told us, it made me see it a whole different way.” Ernest Jammill

“Great experience . . I love poetry and performing and seeing Get Lit inspired me to start writing poems again.” Srishty Amarnari

“It opened the world of poetry to me.” Mariele Saunders-Schultz

“Opened my eyes to poetry.” Max Jurand

“I used to think poetry was boring, but now it has opened my mind.” Katie Scott

“Your performance got me thinking about Literature.” Noah Reyes

“The performance inspired me to write poetry.” Anna DeSanto

“Loved it . . . different from anything I’ve ever seen.” Sue Chang

“Amazing . . . poetry is more than nursery rhymes to me now.” Rozelle Bustos

Van Nuys High:

“Teachers and students alike have been talking about you guys!! They LOVED the performance. I have overheard students talking about the fact that it really made them think about life more deeply… You and your storytellers were a fabulous hit!!! Thank you so much for sprinkling the magic of poetry into our lives.” Suzanne Ozman, Head Librarian Van Nuys High

Fairfax High:
“The performances were very worthwhile and communicated meaningfully with the audience. Thank you for identifying such talents and working so deeply with these students. The messages they convey are profound and important. I am certain that under your guidance they have grown immeasurably and will continue to do so.” Pat Abrams, recently retired Head of English Department Fairfax High

Zane Grey High:
“They were all so fantastic. I wish we could find funding to have you guys come regularly!” Mayda Yetenekian, teacher

Camino Nuevo High:
“The GetLit Players were phenomenal in their capacity to connect with our students and to engage them in meaningful dialogue about the power of the spoken word. Our students were enraptured by the various voices and styles brought by the GetLit poets, and displayed a rarely seen focus and passion for the presentation. GetLit’s fine balance of approachability and highly refined skills encouraged our budding poets to apply some of the observed techniques in their own nascent poetry.” P.Tiller 10th Grade Humanities Teacher, Camino Nuevo High School

“I think that the poets who came were great. It was amazing to see that there are groups out there to help students who like poetry to fulfill that dream. I think it’s really great that at a young age some students are capable of such great poetry” Marcella G., Grade 10

“I really enjoyed how you showed emotion with your poetry. I really felt something when you were performing.”
Brenda V., Grade 10

“Something that I enjoyed was when two poets recited a poem at the same time. I also enjoyed the way all of the poets used different literary devices like, rhyme, rhythm, repetition that we had been learning in English.” Nestor F., Grade 10

John Wooden High:
Dear Diane,
Whoa! My students got lit! Thanks so much. My students declared this the best assembly they have seen! Your team was fantastic in every way. Great personalities, talented, easy to work with. I had about 8 students who wanted to perform and more wanted to, once they experienced what was happening. I was so proud of my students, some who were shy, but volunteered anyway, and I had some very talented students, who really appreciated this opportunity. All of them were so proud of themselves to get up and take a chance. I had tears in my eyes-I was so moved. My students were texting other students who weren't in school today and telling them how great it was! I am so thrilled to see the fruits of your labors of love. Our principal came over and was equally impressed. Everyone
wants them back, so if that's a possibility, please let me know. You always have a place here!
Brenda Young, teacher John Wooden High

"The students are still talking about the Get Lit performance several weeks later. In fact, several students have approached me to start a poetry/spoken word club at our school. I love it!"
Brenda Young, teacher John Wooden High

John Wooden Students
"The poetry you guys come up with is epic and mind-blowing. You have inspired me to a great extent. I never knew that expressing yourself through poetry could be so enjoyable.” Marlon Galario

"I learned that if you are speaking from your heart you can touch people so deeply you can make them cry." Devontae Russell

"To be honest, I'm not too fond of poetry, but Get Lit has changed my opinion quite a bit. You have also given me the reassurance that I have the potential to change the social environment around me." Paul Quintero

"Get Lit was nothing short of amazing, you must inspire a lot of teens. I know you have inspired me. I write basically every day now since the performance." Jason Letinsky

"I really think that Get Lit's performances influence the way people think about literature and English because they said things that really matter in the world, but in a way that really catches peoples' attention and I acknowledge and appreciate that." Kezzy Jaictin

GLP Blitz 2009 - brought to you by The Flourish Foundation

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Prepping for Chicago

Group - editedThe Get Lit Players prepare to take Chicago by storm at the Brave New Voices poetry slam next week by showcasing some of the pieces they will be performing at a fundraiser yesterday evening.

Six members of the troupe performed more than 10 different poems illustrating their ability breathe life into a variety of topics. The audience responded with hoots, applause, and calls for an encore, which the troupe happily obliged.

Ryan, Dario, & Jazmine - edited

Before and after the show, audience members were treated to hors d'oeuvres and cocktails and given the opportunity to bid on items in a silent auction with proceeds benefitting the Get Lit Players trip to Chicago.
Jazmine & Azure - edited
Last year the Get Lit Players placed 10th competing against 50 other troupes from around the world. This year they are ready to got to Chicago and win!

There are a variety of ways you can support the Get Lit Players. They have t-shirts and books for sale, or you may simply donate online through their Web site. For more information visit their Support page.
Yazi - edited Sarah - edited world of warcraft - edited Ryan - edited