Literary Riot: A War in My House

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In collaboration with Get LitGet Lit – Words Ignite unites classic and spoken word poetry to empower youth and inspire communities. By engaging youth in literature in and after school, Get Lit allows teens to become engaged in their own futures and unearth their potential. "Claim your poem, claim your life.”


"A Song in the Front Yard" by Gwendolyn Brooks

April Wells
iLead North Hollywood, 18 years old

What inspired your response poem?
My response was inspired by my mom and her thought that I’ll become a stereotypical black woman just because I am loud. She worries because when most people see black women who are loud they associate them with words like "ratchet" and "nasty". My poem was also inspired by both my mom's and my past because she has done so great in life but I had kind of a rough start. I want to do big things like her, I just had to learn the hard way first.

Why did you choose your classic poem?
Usually, I choose classic poems that I know I will be comfortable working with. This time, however, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and write something personal then choose a classic that matched it. I also think Gwendolyn Brooks is amazing.

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What attracted you to the Get Lit program?
My teacher attracted me to Get Lit. Although I didn't intend to be a thug, I used to be in the principal's office a lot for doing "thuggish" things. I think I was on my seventh suspension. Then one day my teacher walked in the office and said “Yo! You guys are misusing this girl. Give her a mic and she can do so many things.” At first, I thought "Get Lit poetry? No!” but now I am in my third year and Get Lit has done so much for me. It has opened doors that I never thought I could open myself. I feel like my attraction to Get Lit was actually my attraction to saving myself from the person I didn’t want to be.

What is the biggest change that you have seen in yourself since starting Get Lit?
The old April was a fighter and not everyone curses but I would drop bombs everywhere. Not real bombs, curse word bombs. She just wanted to fight everyone. It didn't matter who you were, she wasn’t scared of you. She didn’t fear or care about anything. But now, I feel like I open up to my family more not only through poetry, but by just being myself. I’m more friendly. People say I am more approachable and funny. I am just a happier person. And now, I will be attending school at Juniata College in the fall, which is very important to me. It's a small liberal arts school in Pennsylvania and they have paid all of my tuition. I am just paying room and board.

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