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On Saturday mornings, Get Lit Players aren’t drooling on their pillows or watching TV. They come from all over the city of Los Angeles to recite and write poetry. Many take several buses and commute for over an hour to share classic poems and recite their own creations at the Actor’s Gang in Culver City. These young poets have a spark. Not only do they recite their original poetry with fire in their eyes, but they recite poems from centuries past with a conviction that can leave an audience in tears. Get Lit brings out the poet, the reader, and the performer in each of the students.
One of the most impressive features of a Get Lit workshop is the culture that’s created. Students from different schools, grades, cultural backgrounds, and neighborhoods use the gift of gab to spill their guts to each other, tackling difficult personal topics such as sexuality, family problems, and gang violence. Everyone listens and supports their fellow poets with finger snapping, praise, and constructive criticism. Get Lit has created an environment of mutual respect and students know that they can focus on fine-tuning their poetic language and nailing delivery instead of worrying about being judged by their peers.
Founded by Diane Luby Lane, Get Lit aims to give youth opportunities for developing a passion for literature, poetry, and language. They work with schools through their in-school program that provides standards-based curriculum for teachers to adopt.
Get Lit has trained language arts teachers to use Get Lit curriculum in classrooms around the city. Teachers can order an advance copy of Get Lit, A 12-Week Course in Literacy (and Life) Through POETRY by Diane Luby Lane, a guide to teaching their standards based curriculum in the classroom. Arts evaluator professor James Catterall and and his team from the University of California, Los Angeles evaluated the Get Lit In-School Program. They followed four classes in Watts, Compton, South Central, and Long Beach area schools for a period of six months. They published the results of their findings, which conclude that the in-school curriculum is “immensely effective,” writing, “Get Lit promotes good thinking, thoughtful words, high student engagement, and improved student motivation. Students say they find a voice and learn about themselves through poetry.”
For news and information about getting involved in Get Lit, visit www.getlit.org.