Louder than a Bomb (LTAB) is the largest youth slam poetry competition in the world. It started in Chicago in 2001 with just a few Chicago schools coming together to show off what they have, but since then has grown into so much more. The competition itself is a little less than a month long, beginning in February each year.
At a poetry slam, authors typically recite their original pieces with a lot of movement, dramatic tones, and volume to get the point of the poem across to the audience. LTAB has individual bouts, duo bouts and team bouts consisting of four people, where students just like us can tell the stories we live.
These authors find extremely original ways to demonstrate where problems lie. The general theme this year was politics. Some of those topics included rape, drug use, gang violence, and different types of abuse. The competition not only brings up these topics through the spoken word poetry, but it also causes some admirable statistics. Those who are involved in Louder than a Bomb have an 85 percent high school graduation rate. There has never having an incident of violence throughout its 11 years of existence.
This year, over 1,100 people filled The Vic theatre in Chicago for the Team Finals of Louder than a Bomb. The amount of support from the audience was incredible. For the first time ever, Detroit, Michigan and central Indiana also participated in this year's competition. The bit of traveling they had to take part in to see the best of the best in this year's competition was well worth it.
Like most poetry readings, if you like what a poet says, you snap. If it's something great, the audience goes wild. Following the poem, judges rate the poems on a scale of one to ten. If the audience doesn't agree with what a judge rated the poem as, the audience is encouraged to sway the vote by yelling, "Listen to the poem!" But at Louder than a Bomb, the points don't matter, which directly correlates to their motto of. "The point is not the point; the point is the poetry." Awards are given out at the end of the night to fantastic coaches, poems that demonstrate great composition and one is given to a team that deals with anti-terrorism.
Over 200 poems from past years can be watched at wbez.org/LTAB or can be found on YouTube. For those who are interested in attending one of the events, many them are free of charge.
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