“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”― E.E. Cummings
Imagine telling someone the questions, fears, and hopes you hold closest to your heart. Now, imagine telling those same feelings to an entire auditorium of people and a panel of judges. Students that compete in the Louder Than a Bomb: Great Plains youth poetry festival do just that.
Louder Than a Bomb is a youth poetry festival founded in Chicago, and the Nebraska Writers Collective runs a version of the event in Omaha. The Nebraska Writers Collective's main goal is to give students a safe space for self expression. The festival is an opportunity for students of all races, genders, and demographic backgrounds to come together and celebrate their individual talents.
The Great Plains version of the event has seen tremendous success over the last few years. The event has continued to grow every year since the first season in 2011, with 12 area schools participating. Now, LTAB: Great Plains is now one of the biggest events of its kind, with 32 schools participating in 2014.
The festival consists of a series of workshops directed by local poets who serve as mentors and coaches to students throughout the event. Most teams work with their coaches for several months throughout the process of creating and perfecting original poetry compositions, as well as practicing performing individual and group pieces. The event culminates in a friendly tournament, with pieces performed in front of live audiences.
The Cooper Foundation made a grant of $10,000 to the Nebraska Writers Collective to support Lincoln-focused activities of the Louder than a Bomb slam poetry program.
More performances can be seen at the Louder Than a Bomb: Great Plains Youtube channel.