Here's a few highlights from Get Lit Founder and CEO Diane Luby Lane's interview with news outlet The Knockturnal!
The Knockturnal: What was the vision behind the Get Lit non-profit?
Diane Luby Lane: I started Get Lit in 2006 because I wanted to bring poetry to kids in schools.
When I lived in New York City I met an actress named Viveca Lindfors who turned my theater company into a place for poetry. She had us memorize an hour’s worth of material (I knew nothing about poetry, so I had to quickly self-educate myself) – that we would then perform guerrilla-poetry style in the street, in bars, the steps of museums. The only requirement was that they had to be dramatic poems that were easy to understand. For me, this became life-changing.
Four years later I lived in San Francisco and met a man named James Kass, who is now the founder of Youth Speaks. He was just starting this organization (Youth Speaks) which focused on young people performing their own poems – “spoken word” – and watching them blew my mind. Within a few months, I was volunteering as the head of their drama department, and I loved it.
I had written a book of original monologues for women that was published by Samuel French, so I already loved writing and short-form storytelling. But I wasn’t familiar with “spoken word” until I started working with Youth Speaks.
Eventually, I pulled all of it together and started Get Lit.
In 2001 I moved to Los Angeles and I introduced the Get Lit curriculum to students in schools, not knowing if they would like it, but the positive response was overwhelming, and I have never looked back.
The Knockturnal: Can you tell us about the event that happened on Tuesday and why Get Lit put it together?
Diane Luby Lane: Mental health has always been an area that has been important to me. The Get Lit curriculum allows students to learn ways to express what they are feeling, or going through, but more importantly, know they are not alone, and feel supported.
Earlier this year, we received a significant grant from CalMHSA to help bring attention to and continue awareness around mental health. This allowed us to give our young poets another opportunity to be heard, and to continue the very important discussion of mental health. So we partnered with Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor (WME) and created a symposium to talk about mental health. The event included a discussion with “Our Words Collide” director Jordan Barrow, two youth poets, Sam Luo and Amari Turner, and was led by author and mental health activist, Héctor Tobar. The evening included a 30-minute look at the film “Our Words Collide” and concluded with live performances from three of Get Lit’s youth poets Lila Abercrombie, Jessica Thompson, and Ashley Tahay.
We are incredibly grateful to CalMHSA for letting us get the message of spoken word and mental health out into the world.
The Knockturnal: Why do you think it is important to continue discussing Mental Health?
Diane Luby Lane: This work for young people is absolutely critical. Below are some alarming statistics illuminating this point. In his new book, Together, Surgeon General of the United States, Vivek H. Murthy, MD states that we need community if we are to survive it.
“In The Atlantic’s “What Happened to American Childhood,” Kate Julian says “from 2007 to 2017, suicides among 10-to-24-year-olds rose 56 percent … “Suicides between ages 5 to 11 have almost doubled.” Writer Daniel Thompson in “Why American Teens Are So Sad” writes, “Almost every measure of mental health is getting worse… Since 2009, teen sadness and hopelessness have increased for every race; for straight and gay teens; for students in each year of high school; and in all 50 states.”
Young people are really struggling with mental health right now and creating outlets for feelings, and community through art is an essential healing tool. It absolutely saves lives. And even better – it makes lives! Through this deep work, people are forever changed, becoming not only survivors but thrivers.
Read the full interview here: https://theknockturnal.com/nonprofit-get-lit-hosts-documentary-screening-and-mental-health-discussion-panel/