Get Lit is more than just poetry

Steven Guzman

Karina Mara

Chants, snaps and woos overwhelmed the dimly lit auditorium filled with hundreds of students from different schools to support the Get Lit poets.

“My favorite part was just watching everyone perform,” junior Mariana Sifuentes said. “I realized that even though it’s just a poem, when people perform it and put their feelings into it and their life story, it actually becomes something really deep.”

After months of rigorous training, Daniel Pearl Magnet High School presented its Get Lit team of this year to the attendees of the annual Get Lit Classic Slam held at the Los Angeles Theatre Center on April 26. The poets went inside first to get ready while the other students waited outside with pop and rap music blasting and a dance-off took place on the small space at the center.

“I liked that it was so high energy and everyone was able to express their emotions in such an open area,” sophomore Olivia Bullock said.

The event started at 10 a.m. and a first-time host started it off with an introduction and elaboration of the rules. There are six judges in total, the sixth judge specifically meant to evaluate the accuracy of the poem. In each round, three minutes is provided for every poem and every original response poem, except the shorty round where only a minute and 30 seconds is given.

The school competed against four other teams: ALC, El Rancho, Global Studies and Honeycomb. Juniors Emely Felix and Kirsten Cintigo began the first round with their classic poem titled “Mad Girl’s Love Song” by Sylvia Plath and their response poem “A Suppress Tale.” Junior Rudraj Koppikar participated in the second round with the classic poem “A Brief For The Defense” by Jack Gilbert and his response poem “A Fair World.”

“The focus of the poem was basically for women empowerment, especially with the whole #Metoo movement,” Cintigo said. “I have a friend who’s going through that same situation so I kind of wanted to write the poem in inspiration of her and to encourage her to not be afraid to speak out.”

The shorty round came in third and junior Justin Dumindin hit up the stage with his classic poem “I am running into a new year” by Lucille Clifton and the response poem he named “A dark room.” Sophomore Andi Mendoza performed the poem “Losing Track” by Denise Levertov and her original response poem called “Orange Boy” in the last round for the quarterfinals. Mendoza’s plot twist in her response poem, in which she revealed that her brother also likes her crush, caused the audience to be shocked.

“(I enjoyed) hearing everyone else’s poem and how they were inspired to write their response based on their classic,” Mendoza said. “I think we were a pretty strong team.”

The audience and poets supported each other with delightful claps, snaps and howls. Some made tiny mistakes, yet the audience applauded and snapped to encourage them to continue on. The DJ kept the room entertained with the occasional blare of upbeat music that resulted in quite a few people dancing along. Each team had their own chants they yelled before each poet began and for this team the chant was “DP Sharks, DP Sharks.”

“It was a tough competition but I felt like we were prepared,” said senior David Palacios, a former member and the hype man for the team.  

DPMHS earned a total score of 117.2 and placed fourth. Scores are measured from 0.1-10.0, the highest and lowest are taken down and the remaining is added up to the accuracy, ranging from 1-4. They didn’t proceed to semifinals but prideful smiles and hugs were exchanged. The school attended the semifinals round and former Get Lit member Lisset Bayardo volunteered to be a sacrificial poet for a test run.

“I thought everyone performed at their highest level and I was extremely impressed and proud of them,”  said Ron Baer, an English teacher and coach of the team. “I hoped we go on but we didn’t but that still means less to me. What means the most to me is how well everyone performed and how they all grew in terms of people, in terms of taking risks.”