In collaboration with Get Lit: Get 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.”
LACES,16 years old
LACES,16 years old
LACES, 17 years old
What motivated you to write your response poem?
AR: Our response is about all of our different experiences with being a black woman in America. We all come from different cultures and different cities and we wanted to show that being black is not just this, this, or this. It’s also this and this and this.
JM: My part of the poem was inspired by the things that I remember being associated with as a child such as always wearing lip gloss and my mom putting barrettes in my hair.
AB: I had a really hard time with this poem. It was tough because it is hard for me to identify as black but it’s also hard for me to identify as white. At first, I was trying to make it sound more like their parts but it felt too forced. I decided to talk to mom about it and she told me to simply be honest.
As young black women in America, what does it mean to you to be able to openly express your feelings through poetry?
JM: I feel like media generalizes black people which creates a certain perception of us. But I feel like poetry allows us to express ourselves as individuals and share our different experiences with growing up as a black person in America.
AR: I think poetry is a great platform because everyone is loud. No one is going up there and whispering. It’s not like a book reading. It’s individuals talking about something they are passionate about and addressing certain things that they don’t get the opportunity to talk about everyday at school. You get to say these things and people have to listen to you because you make them listen.
AB: Yea! Everybody is loud but you get to display your thoughts in more of a wholesome light, such as when we talk about the cornbread. It doesn’t make it sound as bad or as negative.
How has the Get Lit program helped you express yourself?
AB: With Get Lit, I have been able to find different ways of expressing myself and by doing so, I feel I learned more about myself. Whenever I have some kind of issue or experience, I have found that it is always easier to put in on paper and turn it into an art. When you are sharing your story with other people, you are able to reflect on the emotions that you are feeling and fully realize what that experience meant to you. By saying it to others, you are also able to see how they relate to it.
JM: Yea! I feel like with poetry, there is always someone in the audience who will relate to what you are saying. So although you may be talking about something personal, something you feel like only you are going through or that you are affected by, there is always someone else who says “Oh! I went through something similar to that.” When someone can connect to your poem like that, it is a great feeling.
AR: I feel like Get Lit has given me a place at my school where I feel comfortable because I am not great at Math or Science but LACES is such an academic school. However, when I write a poem and present it, I feel like I belong at my school as opposed to just being the kid who doesn’t have the 4.0 GPA.
Do you feel, as a teenager, that Get Lit is a way of productively speaking out as opposed to being a typical teenager and doing wild stuff?
JM: I feel like everyone who does Get Lit is like a family. It’s so easy to connect with other people because we have the same hobbies. We are all poets and we have the same interest. Everyone is still doing crazy stuff but we have a better understanding and a way to express ourselves.
AR: I think that we don’t do wild stuff. We’re not out there tagging or selling drugs because we know that we don’t have to do that. We know that we can write a poem, go on stage and talk about tagging and selling drugs, or any other thing you’re in to. That’s how we express ourselves and that’s how we get it out. If we are angry towards someone, we can write it into a beautiful piece, present it and the person might feel bad. They might think “Wow! Ok.”