Los Angeles, CA (PressExposure) March 23, 2012 -- Former pro basketball star Tommy Hawkins has been named a celebrity judge at Get Lit-Words Ignite's first-ever-in-the-nation "Classic Poetry Slam." Get Lit, a leading Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that fosters literacy by engaging at-risk youth in literary performance, education and teen poetry programs, will host the "Classic Poetry Slam" at the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC) and The Wiltern Theater during National Poetry Month on April 27th and 28th, 2012, respectively.
"I am honored to be invited to participate in such an exciting event," said Hawkins, who recently published his own book of poetry entitled Life's Reflections: Poetry for the People. "I'm anxious to meet the students and hear their performances."
A former Notre Dame All-American and member of the original Los Angeles Lakers basketball team in the 1960's, Hawkins became a media personality, motivational speaker and sports executive after retiring from pro basketball. He is a pioneering Golden Mike and Emmy Award-nominated radio and television broadcaster and served as Vice President of Communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers for 18 years. He is currently on a national media tour promoting his new book of poetry.
"We're so excited to be hosting the nation's first-ever Classic Slam poetry competition and to have Tommy Hawkins as one of our celebrity judges," said Get Lit-Words Ignite Founder and Executive Director Diane Luby Lane. "It's not just the first in Los Angeles, but the first in the nation, occurring at the LATC and Wiltern Theater. This is the beginning of a national movement we've piloted in 18 Los Angeles high schools, which we hope will be duplicated around the country."
Teens will be bused in from Watts, Hollywood, Pasadena, San Gabriel Valley, South Central, and Santa Monica to bust Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda, Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath and Maya Angelou in combination with their own spoken word responses. Scholarships will be awarded to the winning poet, teacher, and school.
Get Lit partners with actor/director Tim Robbins and is supported by fellow actors James Franco and Helen Mirren, and by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Get Lit Players, Los Angeles' award-winning classic teen poetry troupe, were invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to perform at The White House in May 2011.
Today, according to statistics, approximately 60% of teens graduate high school nationally, and in Los Angeles teen literacy rates are second lowest in the nation. In light of these staggering statistics, the LAUSD Arts Education Branch suffered a 100% funding cut recently. As a result hundreds of music, theater, visual arts, and dance teachers no longer have jobs. Get Lit fills a much needed educational void.
By immersing teens in the world of great books, often for the first time, Get Lit equips students for future success in college and the workplace by building concise writing skills and dynamic public speaking abilities and a foundation of self-confidence. Get Lit aims to empower youth to succeed by drawing connections between the emotions and experiences fuelling the work of classic writers to the complexities and struggles teens face in their daily lives. Igniting a love of language, teens are inspired to stay in school, become lifelong learners and thrive.