Oni Woods, PACHS teacher
I have had the privilege of coaching this year’s Louder Than A Bomb teen slam poetry team here at PACHS. The best and most concise description of the competition comes from the Young Chicago Author’s website:
Louder Than A Bomb(LTAB) was founded in 2001, by Kevin Coval (YCA Artistic Director) and Anna West. LTAB is the largest youth poetry festival in the world, featuring over 100 zip codes within the Chicago-land area.
LTAB was created to give youth around the city of Chicago a platform to share their stories. The festival has since become a “bridge” for young people from many different backgrounds to come together and find a common ground through their narratives.
This is the 13th year of the LTAB Festival and what began with only 4 teams competing now has 100 teams of Chicagoland youth pouring out their hearts, minds, and souls on stage. PACHS has finished the first two preliminary bouts as of Wednesday, February 27, 2013. We have placed 2nd in both of those bouts. Each time in competition, our students have placed with some of the highest scores in that particular round. ‘Prelims’ will be complete on Friday, March 1, 2013 and we will know then if PACHS has made it to the semi-finals as a team. We do, however, in addition to group prospects, have individuals that may go on to the individual finals competition. PACHS has the reputation at the Festival of being “raw” or in other words really, really awesome. And this year, our students are living up to that reputation. Marc Smith, the founder of the genre of “slam” poetry visited the opening ceremony of Louder Than A Bomb this year and told the students that slam poetry is about the marriage of poetry and performance. Our team this year has skill in both arenas. We have put in hours of work and have truly demonstrated the essence of dedication, commitment, and teamwork.
They have a saying at LTAB: “It’s not about the points it’s about the poetry.” This spirit of mutual support and encouragement breeds appreciation of diversity and an atmosphere of kinship among the students from all schools and neighborhoods that is unparalleled in this city. Our students have become a part of a large family of poets and artists and I have witnessed them becoming better, more confident and self-assured young people for it. With their work, they have inspired other students, judges, themselves, and their fellow classmates. But most of all, they have inspired me.