BYHO Journals


Fiction. Based on a True Get Lit Classic Slam Competition Judging Experience. 5 minute read

About Get Lit Class Slam Competition

300 Poets. 50 Schools. 1 Champion. The Get Lit Class Slam Competition is the largest youth classic poetry festival in the world, where high school students from all over Southern California face off to “slam” iconic poems & their original responses. Every April (National Poetry Month) students complete Get Lit’s in-school program with this festival, judged by artistic thought leaders, for school spirit & cash scholarships. This year’s judges include Duckwrth, Neil Hilborn, Demi Adejuyigbe, Danielle Brazell, Gina Belfafonte, & Rhiannon McGavin!


A spoken word poem by Mingjie Zhai

To recreate what happened on that day,

would only be to imitate

the experience that was uniquely designed for that moment

for the power of the youth

within the spoken word community

created a stage where heartbreaks

could break in beats, in intonations, in words


in a multitude of colors

A struggle painted in poetry is

why the caged bird sings

Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and the Hues of all the

dead poets

resurrected in the vibration

chords, mixed with memories

each tear drop a story

A boy growing up

shots heard

the fear

the pain of the familiar

addiction and innocence




“the color of corn syrup”

The Refugee

refuses to be identified by a social-political label

The rage on the stage

transformed into Pride

into the “I”

“My Skin Color”

A child’s eyes, she sees clearly, through

the cleansing tears

of skid row

the juxtapositions

rich and poor

on her pink T-shirt,

bits of her hair fall

like Spanish moss

from a Louisiana tree


Beautiful minds


“Velveteen Rabbit”

Urban Nomads

They Carry

the future in their hearts

baring their souls

“Don’t be nice, be nasty,”

the crowd shouted

at the poet

in the spotlight

“It’s going down”

Natalie is Poet

says with her sharp red nails

and thick red lips

beat box beating

in the rhythm of a community

of our hope

“When I say hip, you say hop,”





Breathing life into you

“Don’t fall in love with a poet”


“finding beauty in disasters”

she grounds the room

sending chills through and through

My Response


the points don’t matter, really

like Who’s Line Is It Anyway?

It’s everybody’s line

because everything is on the line

Front lines

the judgement is the illusion

to quantify, to box, to categorize

is a fine line

that one draws in this competition

though one must win

all is a winner

because the world of sin

is a song sung by all sinners

and all hearts are heavy

all experiences a love story

but here she is today



the pieces

of broken hearts that

are painted in multi-textured breathes

with multi-colored memories

from multi-cultured ethno-social-political identities


“Don’t be nice, be nasty,”

Angelie heard them say.

She smiles.

She thinks of kweisi gharreau of innocent rage

whose brother was gunned down

black on black violence

he bled his rage onto white sheets

in black and blue ink

red, black, and white

were the colors of his pain

colorful pain that weeps

she thinks of Okeema,

the student who raised her brother

while single mothers still struggle

while their men are trapped between

the cells

of mental prisons

from corrupted systems

manifesting physical and emotional absence

where do you find the release?

Here in the space of poetry

like waves that roar

pouring out in the space

for young men and women

who chose the path

of creative expression

to express the greatest test

self-destruction or creative expression


they have chosen the third and final act

on the Get Lit Stage


their rage

their anger

their frustration

their confusion

their pain

lit up


bringing from the depth of their truth


from the pits of their soul

through vocal cords

and anxious lips



This is

how one


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