While more conventionally established poets held readings on the nearby Poetry Stage at the L.A. Times Festival of Books on Saturday, teenage poets drew their own audience as they performed original and classic poetry in front of the Get Lit-Words Ignite booth. The festival continues Sunday at USC.
During the outdoor performances, each teen ratcheted up the emotion of the preceding performer, sustaining an energy that drew festival attendees who couldn’t help but stop to absorb the experience.
These impromptu spoken-word performances are by the Get Lit Players, a troupe of teenage artists who share their passion for poetic expression with others through their various performances. They travel to schools, host their own special events, and some of them even travel to compete in spoken-word competitions.
Get Lit is a Los Angeles based nonprofit organization focused on expanding literacy by exposing teens to classic literature and poetry through spoken-word performance techniques.
They offer a specially designed 12-week in-school curriculum as well as after-school programming.
“Poetry saved my life,” Adrian Kljucec, a 17-year-old high school senior and member of the Get Lit Players, said when asked to share about his connection with the troupe. Kljucec discovered Get Lit when a teacher recommended he attend an open-mike event after he auditioned for a school production. That performance led to his eventual audition to be a part of the group.
Being a member is definitely a commitment, he said, with hours of weekly rehearsals, but the experience is more than worth it because the troupe is “much more than friends and community. It’s a family.”
Their closeness was very much apparent as they cheered each other on through each piece performed. More than a performance, each piece was each teen sharing a part of themselves in an honest and forthright way.
Catch Adrian and the other Get Lit Players on Sunday at the Get Lit-Words Ignite booth (Number 343). If you miss them, also check out their poetry slam competition on April 26 and 27.