Charter Oak High School

Classic Slam gives a voice to teenage poets

Every year, Get Lit hosts the Classic Slam, a competition where Get Lit Players perform in front of hundreds of people. This year, the event was hosted at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.


The hours leading up to the competition were filled with excitement and anxiety. The poets huddled up backstage, going through their pre-show rituals and last-minute rehearsals. Despite knowing that only one group would walk away with the trophy, there was an air of camaraderie and encouragement between the schools.


The poets made their way on stage together and cheered loudly, getting the crowd hyped for the poems to come. The celebrity judges, which included Andrea Gibson, Patricia Smith, Nate Parker, Jessica Oyelowo, Rory Pullens and Luis Rodriguez, graded performers on a scale of one to ten, with the lowest and the highest scores being dropped. Performers were also graded for their accuracy on a scale of one to three.

Poets performed in groups of three, two, or individually. They would begin by reciting a piece of poetry, and then performing their response to it. Topics ranged from female empowerment to drug issues to xenophobia.

“Poetry has given me a voice,” said one performer, “It has allowed me to express myself in ways that I never thought that I would.”


The groups who competed had been rehearsing throughout the year, having to choose their poems and then write a response to it. Four schools made it to the final round, which took place on April 30. Of those four, iLead North Hollywood took first place.


The Classic Slam has a profound impact on not only the performers, but the audience as well. It’s incredibly inspiring and moving to see such passionate teenagers raise their voices about important issues, especially issues that are difficult to talk about. The poets offer a fresh perspective with raw truths, unafraid to let their creative and unique voices a chance to break through.