Personal essays and poems from 19 teenage poets, members of a poetry troupe connected with the Get Lit–Words Ignite literacy organization, are featured in this moving anthology. The young poets discuss their lives in candid essays and identify classic poems (from the likes of Charles Bukowski, Langston Hughes, and Marge Piercy) that they have found inspiring. The poets then follow the poems they have selected with their own “response” poems, which frequently touch on gender identity, mental health, body image, and violence. After each entry, Lane, who founded Get Lit, provides questions for readers to consider and prompts to jump-start their writing (“Write about a fight you’re fighting within yourself”). Lane and her young collaborators present an inspiring example of how poetry in the present communicates with that of the past. Ages 12–up.
– Publishers Weekly (September 5, 2016)
A coveted stash of poems written by the slam poetry troupe the Get Lit Players, part of Lane’s “Get Lit-Words Ignite” Common Core–aligned English and Performing Arts curriculum program. Each of the 20 short chapters profiles a member poet (the last features Lane) through eloquently written essays that recount personal struggles, with an emphasis on the transformative power of poetry. The poets each explain why they chose to claim a particular piece (selected from poets who range from the canonical to the radical and contemporary, like Saul Williams and Marge Piercy) and provide a response poem. For the teacher in us all, there are writing prompts and suggested verses for further reading, organized by teen-centered themes such as “Race, Urban Poverty, Life Force” and “Owning Your Own Worth, Keeping an Open Heart.” The final chapter outlines a detailed process of how to create a poetry group, with a list of “200 Poems To Crack You Open.” VERDICT A multiple copy must-have. Use as a tool for collection development for tried-and-true poetry that speaks to teens.
– School Library Journal, October 2016
Nineteen members of a culturally diverse student poetry troupe each share their personal stories, classic poems that have inspired their writing, and a poem written specifically in response to the classic poetry selection. Get Lit was founded on the principle that reading and using classic poems as inspiration for writing new poetry produces “magic, time and time again.” This volume aims to share this formula with those who may not be able to attend Get Lit events. Participants’ autobiographical essays showcase a range of personal struggles that include familial pressures to be perfect, shattered family dynamics, and bullying, and the book stresses that poetry can be a means of overcoming obstacles. Both the essays and the poetry selections are often emotionally raw, as troupe members explore personal pain and find hope for the future through writing. While the work showcases the fears of a young generation, the pieces also frequently call for self-acceptance, personal empowerment, and social justice. The suggested poems for additional reading are helpful for poetry novices and fanatics alike. The writing prompts included with each chapter are potentially useful, but they also could give the text a “workbook” feel that may alienate some readers. Useful for both those looking to run a poetry-writing workshop or readers looking specifically for advice with their own writing. (Poetry/nonfiction. 12-18)
– Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2016)
Poetry-lovers, cool cats, friends of youth, teachers, secret writers, anyone suffering any kind of gloom or remorse or longing for your own voice to be stronger... stand in line to buy this book! Get Lit Rising by Diane Luby Lane and her gorgeous Get Lit Players is the most passionate, brilliant testament to poetry and its wide radiance that I have seen in years. This is a book borne from the hearts, souls, and minds of many, an encouragement toward true connection and modeling on what you respect... a shining lamp to light your way.
– NAOMI SHIHAB NYE, Chancellor of the American Academy of Poets
The power of Get Lit Players is not just the poems they've mastered from Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda, but their own stories, images, fears, thoughts, visions, and hopes. How they've used singular unique personas and combined them with others to create a dance of words, emotions, ideas.... This is transformative the way poetry should be—from the soul of a person to the soul of the world.
– LUIS RODRIGUEZ, Poet Laureate of Los Angeles
Get Lit Rising is more than a poetry anthology. It is an astonishing window into what it means to be a young person in America right now. As such, it is also a mirror, and I can't think of a more meaningful reading experience.
– JEFF HOBBS, New York Times bestselling author of The Short & Tragic Life of Robert Peace
This book, this fierce and hungry and gorgeous book, this good weapon in the good fight, this monster under the king’s bed. No other book allows you to meet the poets, the youth, the creators of our future, like this one. Not only are we being let in to the art of these young writers, but we are also learning their backstories, which are as poetic and stunning as the poems themselves. This anthology creates constant conversation and dialogue across all borders, and I know few things more healing and necessary.
– ANDREA GIBSON, award-winning poet and activist
I'm left breathless by the revelation and daring in these pages—voices lifted in joy, in defiance and revolt, voices raising insistent questions, offering answers, searching relentlessly. This is the drumbeat of witnesses in the midst of the lives, spending their days out loud, relishing the muscle of language and its remarkable ability to exact change. These extraordinary young people introduce you to the life you wish you had led—and, better yet, they convince you that there is still time to live it.
– PATRICIA SMITH, poet, Guggenheim Fellow, and National Book Award Finalist
Get Lit Rising is a moving testament to the deep currents of creativity and compassion that flow in the souls of all young people. Too often these currents are silted up by lack of opportunity at home and school. This marvelous bounty of personal stories, inspired poems, and practical advice reveals (again) how heartfelt experience of the arts in education can transform, ennoble, and even save young lives. It shows too how helping young people to engage more deeply with the world within them opens them up to more profound relationships with those around them: how poetry and passion can nurture compassion. A beautiful, inspiring and important book for young people everywhere and for their parents and teachers too.
– KEN ROBINSON, educator and author, Creative Schools: Revolutionizing Education From The Ground Up
Meet the poets of the heart. Get up close to the sayers of the scars. Listen carefully to these weavers of the light (you get the light by sayin' it the way it is, about where you are really comin' from). Look inside and you'll see how it happens—about being bullied, about your body, how you feel about it, about your parents with all the hurt inside blowin' out of them and you just standing there. And I am just gettin' started. Start with these brave soul searchers and spirit finders. Call it spirit, how do you touch base with your core self? Touch base now. Here. Hold this book and books that got these pioneering torches lit—Bukowski, Francisco X. Alarcón, Adrienne Rich, Sonia Sanchez. See why I am sayin'? There is no book like this one, maybe one—June Jordan's Poetry for the People. Here are the new people. Talking about our new time. It is a critical time. Listen in. Learn it up. Meet, get close, get with it, get lit.
– JUAN FELIPE HERRERA, Poet Laureate of the United States
The Get Lit Players are changing the landscape of literacy in Los Angeles and providing a model for the rest of the nation. Through the power of art, they are transforming the lives of young people and creating a pathway for opportunity.
– ERIC GARCETTI, mayor of Los Angeles
Diane Luby Lane's Get Lit program is the gold standard for bringing poetry into the lives of young people in schools across the country. Get Lit combines learning about poetry written by master poets with the students’ own creative inner selves. Often students reach far beyond what they imagine they can achieve. Bravo to Get Lit!
– PAUL CUMMINS, founder of Crossroads School & The Coalition for Engaged Education
This just isn’t a book. It's a movement. It’s a revolution. By giving these young artists a voice, Get Lit is giving these artists the power of their lives. It captures something very special. It captures the creative spark. It gives one a window not only to the soul of a poet by bringing a well known artist's words to the pages, but it elicits our own creativity as we journey with these young poets and their own artistic inspirations with their own powerful phrase. It awakes in the reader the joy and power of our words. We sometimes forget the power of a word. A word can cut out our heart. A word can unite a generation. A word can save a life. Now, the same power of the spoken word is given to any reader who picks up this book. After I read [Get Lit Rising], I recognized the power of my words to ignite real change.
– RORY PULLENS, executive director of the Arts for LAUSD
Get Lit is one of the premier spoken word organizations in the country for young people. The words in this book are fearless, powerful, and moving. These are young poets in conversation with history, while writing their own. This is poetry for the real world.
– George Watsky, author, rapper and poet
The Get Lit-Words Ignite curriculum engages students through life experience, classic poems, and writing. Students write about their lives, choose a classic or well-known poem, and end by writing a poem of their own creation. This approach gives student writers an outlet for expression, helping them to cope and understand life’s heavier issues: poverty, racism, bigotry, mental illness, addiction, and more. Many teen readers and young adults will relate to this material. The students acknowledge that the program has provided them with a sense of purpose and belonging, an emotional outlet, people with which to bond, understanding of others, and responses that are not judgmental. Each section begins with a group poem and includes writing prompts. Brief information about the young poets along with a small photo of each is given, and a bibliography of the classic poems contains ideas for their use rounds out the volume.
– School Library Connection, January/February 2017
Unless you’re a fellow teenager reading the high-school poets featured in this anthology-cum-manual, you
may find their output a bit juvenile—a critique in no way leveled at the young creators, most of whom
have already overcome extremely challenging life scripts. Executive director Lane introduced her poetry
program—in which a student chooses a resonant poem, memorizes it, writes a response, and then performs
both—in LA schools in 2006; it now reaches some 20,000 young people and boasts an astounding track
record. Lane exults: “98 percent of our Get Lit Players [an elite corps chosen by audition] go on to college,
70 percent with merit-based scholarships.” Here a score or so budding writers tell their life stories, their
essays followed by their chosen poem and original response, plus thematic prompts that encourage the
reader to try writing themselves. Asking an adolescent to relate “the story of me” is an open invitation to
navel-gazing, but age-mates will find a wealth of relatable material and the occasional gem of a liberating
insight. — Sandy MacDonald
– Booklist, October 15, 2016