“Words transform lives. … Books provide a valuable resource and refuge for the human soul.”
One Los Angeles-based organization is attempting to make that resource and refuge a reality for California high school students.
Get Lit: Words Ignite is non-profit organization that provides in-school and after-school programs that combine classic literature/poetry with contemporary Spoken Word performance techniques. Its goal is to “fill the gaps where public schools have failed students,” and providing “tools to access all that books have to offer.”
Get Lit was founded in 2005 by Diane Luby Lane, a longtime teacher, mentor, and literacy coach. Lane writes of her experience teaching poetry to a group of high school students:
“I wondered, would something beautiful happen for Victor? Would he graduate from a school with a 75% drop out rate? Would he go to college when less then 50% of graduates from his school did? Would he survive the violence of his streets where gang bangs and drug deals were constant? I wanted to show Victor a world he’d never seen, so I left him with a taste of what had saved my life…books.”
Lane’s organization now sponsors programs like the Get Lit Players, a troupe of students who memorize classic poetry and recite it to middle schools, high schools, universities, and community events across the nation. This award-winning troupe also teaches workshops on the weekends.
According to Carol Muske-Dukes, the California Poet Laureate and one of Lane’s collaborators,
“There are no other young poets like the Get Lit Players. They take the Great Poems of the past and commit them to heart, then give them back to us – along with their own powerful original responses. The result is a conversation that can change the world.”
I can only hope that this conversation ignites a rush of others like it.
Check out the Words Ignite Blog for information about upcoming performances in your area.