Louder than a Bomb will celebrate youth poets in 2021 virtual festival

The annual event, courtesy of Young Chicago Authors, will feature more than 500 youth poets from schools and community groups throughout the Chicago area.

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Kevin Coval, former artistic director at Young Chicago Authors.

“Poetry in its best lived practice is a radically democratic form, and really believes in the notion that regardless of who you are and where you come from, you have something to say,” says Kevin Coval, founder of Louder than a Bomb.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Louder than a Bomb, “the largest youth poetry festival in the world,” will celebrate its 21st anniversary when it arrives in a virtual version March 13-April 24.

The annual event, courtesy of Young Chicago Authors, will feature more than 500 youth poets (ages 12 to 18) from schools and community groups throughout the Chicago area in a five-week, tournament-style competition of original solo and group spoken-word poems, as well as workshops and more.

This year’s dual theme is Rooted & Radical, “encouraging the rising generation to look back, in order to move forward, with a clear picture of the future that they collectively plan to create,” according to a statement from LTAB.

“Poetry in its best-lived practice is a radically democratic form, and really believes in the notion that regardless of who you are and where you come from, you have something to say,” said poet Kevin Coval, Young Chicago Authors artistic director and LTAB founder. “The inauguration was emblematic of a larger cultural movement that is about ensuring many voices are heard. Art and poetry in particular can act as a bridge and invitation into one another’s lives, so that we might learn about one another.”

Due to pandemic restrictions on large gatherings/festivals, all poetry will be presented via pre-recorded videos. This year’s event, for the first time, will also feature students serving as judges. The semi-finals will stream at 6 p.m. April 9-10, and team finals April 24, via YouTube Live and the Young Chicago Author’s website for free. 

LTAB alumni include Chance the Rapper, Jamila Woods, Mick Jenkins, Nate Marshall, Noname, Ric Wilson and Saba.

Registration for LTAB 2021 runs Feb. 5-26 and there is no registration fee required this year. Complete information/registration form is available at youngchicagoauthors.org.

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