Former Pro Basketball Star Tommy Hawkins Named Celebrity Judge for ‘Get Lit’ First Nationwide Classic Poetry Competition to Promote Literacy Among At-Risk Youth
“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.
About Get Lit – Words Ignite
Founded in 2005 in Los Angeles, Get Lit is a leading non-profit presenter of literary performance, education, and teen poetry programs. Get Lit uses the memorization and recitation of classic poetry as a launch pad for teen-created spoken word responses, fusing the two forms of expression into compelling performances, conducted by teens in school, after school, and through the organization’s own select group of Get Lit Players. These poet ambassadors from throughout Los Angeles perform both classic and spoken word poetry, inspiring fellow teens to read, write, participate in the arts, and be leaders in their community. Each year, Get Lit reaches over 15,000 at-risk teens in more than 45 high schools, turning these students into motivated scholars inspired to stay in school and thrive. Learn more at http://getlit.org.
About Tommy Hawkins
Raised in Chicago, Illinois, Hawkins has enjoyed an incredible career as a college basketball All-American at Notre Dame, 10 years in the NBA playing ball with the Cincinnati Royals and Los Angeles Lakers. As an original member of the Lakers, Hawkins played with Wilt, Jerry, Elgin, Oscar and many others. An Emmy Award-nominated radio and television broadcaster, event host and motivational speaker, Hawkins also served as Vice President of Communications with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 18 years.
As a respected civic leader and pioneer in numerous fields, Hawkins’ community involvement includes serving on the Boards of Directors of the Los Angeles Center Theater Group, Los Angeles Sports Council, Los Angeles Friends of Recreation, Childrens Burn Foundation and Friends of Jazz at UCLA. He was also named Ambassador to the Los Angeles Unified School Districts Adopt a School Program. His numerous awards include being inducted into the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame, Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame and the Los Angeles Athletic Club Hall of Fame. He has also been honored as a Treasure of Los Angeles, Notre Dame Alumnus of the Year and Franciscan Communicator of the Year.
His new book, Life’s Reflections: Poetry for the People is a colorful coffee table book which can best be described as a unique collection of poetic narratives, full of insights and surprises. Each narrative is accompanied by a captivating painting or photograph that illustrates his words including works by famed artists LeRoy Neiman, Aldo Luongo, Ernie Barnes and others. For more details, please visit his website: www.tommyhawkins.net.
Contact: Jim Goyjer (310) 207 3361
10866 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
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