Get Lit: inspiring high school students to read, write, and speak up

Several hundred high school students recently filled the Animo Inglewood Charter High School auditorium, talking, laughing, and chatting with friends. Then the Get Lit Players took the stage:

“We are a troupe of poetic youth tied to classic roots… With words to illuminate the dark,” chanted the six members of the teen poetry troupe, and the auditorium fell silent.

For the next two hours, in ones and twos, poets from the ages of 15 to 18, recited words of hope, understanding and respect to the high school students listening with rapt attention.[fancy_box] Get Lit performs at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera. Video courtesy of Get Lit Staff.[/fancy_box]

The Get Lit Players, who perform in schools across Los Angeles, delivered poems in a blitz-like fashion, wielding their hip-hop verbal skills in rapid-fire attacks. From comical topics to serious ones, their original works bore witness to subjects such as relationship heartbreak and the pressure from parents to be perfect. Then they changed gears and brought to life works by renowned poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Walt Whitman, and Langston Hughes.

Troupe members say their mission is to encourage teens to read, write and participate in the arts by connecting the emotions and experiences expressed by celebrated poets with the struggles of young people today. Freshman Brandon Estrada, 14, said the troupe connected with him. “I realized I was buried and forgotten and after watching the performance I feel as though I’ve been resurrected,” he said. “I can be great in life…it’s in my grasp.”

Regine Rhine, 17, a budding poet and member of the Amino High School Poetry Slam team, found the Get Lit performance inspirational – and a bit daunting. Her poetry team will be competing against the troupe next month in a citywide youth poetry event, called the Classic Slam. She too feels at home on a stage, reciting poetry to her peers. “Poetry is a profound way of expressing myself and letting people see another side of me,” she said. Get Lit Player and performer, Junior Herrara, 18, agreed. The East Los Angeles City College student said poetry provides an outlet for self expression like no other.

“It not only let’s me explore realms of myself I did not know existed, it also lets me share and teach my life lessons with others,” he said.

Get Lit’s Classic Slam, will take place at the Wiltern Theater, in Los Angeles on April 28th at 7 PM and showcase blitz-like performances from high school poets from across Los Angeles.

Founded in 2005, in Los Angeles, Get Lit is a non-profit organization offering literary performance training, education, and teen poetry programs. Programs are designed to boost literacy and encourage creative self-expression. By immersing teens in the world of great books, Get Lit equips students for future success in college and the workplace, building concise writing skills, dynamic public speaking abilities and the foundation for lifelong self-confidence. To date, Get Lit has performed before more than 15,000 teens in more than 45 high schools.

For more information on Get Lit, click here to visit their website.