Louder Than a Bomb
In 2001, poet and Young Chicago Authors (YCA) Artistic Director Kevin Coval had a vision to give Chicago youth a platform to share their stories across the city. During that time, Chicago enforced an anti-gang loitering law that gave police powers to arbitrarily select people for arrest and punishment, resulting in innocent youth across Chicagoland being denied their right to peaceably assemble. The Twin Towers had also recently fallen and people of color were being discriminated against across the globe. He co-founded Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) as a way to celebrate the identity of all people to share their stories in a new and radically diverse public cultural space. It has become the world’s largest youth poetry festival.
YCA, the non-profit home of LTAB, was born in 1991 when teacher Dr. Robert Boone realized that few resources existed in Chicago for teens serious about creative writing. Dr. Boone began holding free workshops on Saturdays for young people looking for mentorship and the company of other student writers. Over the last two decades, YCA has grown steadily and evolved into an arts organization that engages youth in the act of telling their own stories through spoken word, verse and traditional journalism, playwriting, fiction and many other forms. Over the years, YCA has expanded its programs to include rigorous engagement with thousands of young people via in-class curriculum, after school, and in regular workshops held on evenings during the week and during the day on the weekend. At the core of this work is galvanizing youth communities as civically engaged and culturally literate citizens with essential developmental skills from the Literary Arts world. All of this annual programming is celebrated in the culmination of LTAB, now a month-long festival.