YCA Blog

Meet Louder Than a Bomb's Younger Sibling: Half Pints

Meet Louder Than a Bomb's Younger Sibling: Half Pints

By: Anna Mason and Tommy Brannigan

On a sunny Saturday on February 18 , dozens of preteens are strolling around an open stage at Columbia College until it’s time for their performances. Half Pints, the slam poetry competition and open mic for kids not quite old enough for the Louder Than A Bomb Poetry Festival.

Half Pints is 9-years-old this year, close to the ages of many of the fifth to eighth grade participants who are filling the room. Some are laughing with friends, some talking with parents—others are quietly reading over their poems. All of them are here, from different zip codes and experiences, to share their stories.

Diana Makowski’s poem is about video games, while Sam Harris adopts...

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Louder Than a Bomba: A Home For Latinx Culture and Expression

Louder Than a Bomba: A Home For Latinx Culture and Expression

By Anna Mason

photos via YCA

Thursday night Feb 22, Columbia College was alive with music and dancing. Teens and adults gathered for the first ever Louder Than A Bomba, an open mic for Latinx people.

The creation of this space has come at a much needed time for the Latinx community. Of the event, coordinator José Olivarez said, “The president has made open and very racist remarks against the Latinx community. I think in that political climate, it’s really powerful to have a gathering where we can celebrate each other and respond and resist.” A commonly stressed idea among attendees was the importance of a safe space where they could ...

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How “Brown Girls” Helps Us Better Understand Identity

How “Brown Girls” Helps Us Better Understand Identity

Written by Christian Sanchez, Marlena Wadley and Tanya Munoz 
photos via RJ Eldridge

On Wednesday (February 15), Chicago Art Department hummed with chatter and laughter while people lined up outside waiting for the premiere of the web series Brown Girls. Written by Fatimah Asghar and directed by Sam Bailey, Brown Girls is a story based on Asghar’s life. Centered around two brown women, Leila and Patricia are trying to settle into their identities and careers while being each other’s shoulder and combing out the kinks.

Asghar is no stranger to writing or performing; in 2015, she published her own book, AFTER, a number of poems that truthfully explore the aftermath of an abusive relationship. In 2015 she also delivered a TED talk, “We Own All The Language In The World” about poetry being a powerful...

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Crossing the Street Bring Positivity & Creativity to Chicago’s Youth

Crossing the Street Bring Positivity & Creativity to Chicago’s Youth

Written by Marlena Wadley, Nick Dimas, Tanya Munoz and Tommy Brannigan
photos via YCA

Maurice Swinney, the principal of Tilden High School on the South Side, decided to move to Chicago after he heard the poem “Lost Count” by Nate Marshall, Demetrius Amparan, and Deja Taylor.

That poem—written by three then-high school students—focuses on corruption in the school system, police misconduct, and violence. Swinney wanted to be a part of the solution, explaining why it’s so surreal to be leading the high school that serves as the starting point for the Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) festival each year.

“To have LTAB start here, and knowing I was inspired to move here because of HBO’s Brave New Voices special, seeing Demetrius and Nathaniel, it was really good; it was so rich. It was inspiring and painful,” Swinney said. “They had to...

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A Review of Noname's Sold Out Telefone Tour

A Review of Noname's Sold Out Telefone Tour

Written by Marlena Wadley
photo via Noname

Upon arrival, The Metro was filled with a swarm of fans dying to see Chicago rapper Noname bless the stage at the first sold out hometown show of the Telefone tour. With acts Akenya and Ravyn Lenae opening the show, The Metro was a booming spectrum of Chicago talent.

I arrived in the middle of Akenya’s set, whose voice would make anyone wonder who she is, if they didn’t already. After a stretched interval of reggae elevator music, Ravyn gave the crowd a fun and boisterous performance, opening with her song “Greetings.” A mix of twists, shimmies, and whining, you could tell she was carefree and enjoying her performance just as much as her spectators. Her soft melodious voice touched ...

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How Louder Than A Bomb Unites Chicago's Youth

How Louder Than A Bomb Unites Chicago's Youth

Written by Marlena Wadley and Tommy Brannigan 
photos via YCA

It’s no secret that Chicago is one of the most racially segregated cities in America. Constantly under speculation because of the violence, many benefactors to the city go by as unsung heros. However, their efforts to build a better community in the city have resulted in the largest annual poetry festival in the country, Louder Than A Bomb.

This Sunday (January 15), LTAB kicked off its 17th year with its annual coaches meeting, where novice and veteran coaches come together to discuss the year’s theme, and prepare for the start of the festival.

One of LTAB’s main goals is to instill positivity and unity within communities and its more than 1,000 youth participants. LTAB founder Kevin Coval notes, “[LTAB] brings young writers together, especially because Chicago is...

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