Chicago Beat Blog

The Point Is The Poetry

The Point Is The Poetry

By Nick Dimas, Anna Mason, Tanya Munoz and Marlena Wadley
photos via YCA

“I’ve come to LTAB every year for the past 4 years and this year was just amazing those kids kicked ass up there. It’s amazing to see what the next couple of years and now what Chicago has to push out” says rapper Taylor Bennett right after his performance on the finals stage.

On March 18th, the Auditorium Theater was emerged in tears, claps, smiles, and standing ovations. Kuumba Lynx, Rebirth, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Percy L. Julian all revealed what activism looks like. From poems talking about racism within CPS, standardized test, gentrification, black and LGBTQ rights, to awareness of sexual assault and reclaiming the body. This year, every team left a small piece of themselves and the true meaning of using your words for change.

It’s not...

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LTAB SEMIS: Hot Fire on a Cold Day

LTAB SEMIS: Hot Fire on a Cold Day

By Nick Dimas and Christian Sanchez
photos via YCA

After weeks of unseasonably warm weather, winter returned to Chicago with a roar, right before the Louder than a Bomb semifinals on March 12.

But the cold air whipping around The Metro was no match for the fire coming from inside. The 11 hour, four bout festival brought 16 teams and 16 indy poets to the North Side theatre.

Besides the dozens of excellent high school poets, The Metro was packed with Chicago luminaries, like Jamila Woods, who debuted a new song dedicated to poet and educator Nikki Giovanni; and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who was one of the judges for the third bout of the day.

Bout three pitted poets from Kuumba Lynx, Whitney Young High School, Lindblom Math and Science Academy and Kenwood Academy; plus indy poets. The room was packed and...

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Purim Party at YCA

Purim Party at YCA

By Christian Sanchez
photos via YCA

Thursday, March 9th, Artistic Director Kevin Coval hosted the first ever Purim Interfaith Celebration held by YCA. The purpose of the event was to bring together people from all faiths to celebrate and learn about Purim. The event was also co-sponsored by the Chicago Theological Seminary’s Center for Jewish, Christian and Islamic Studies.

The event was celebrated at YCA headquarters. Along the walls were drawings with captions that explained the story of Purim. Punch and Hamentashen were put out for guests. Those in attendance excitedly chatted with one another waiting for the event to start.

I spoke with two Northwestern freshmen, Harley Kirchoff and Makaa Kopeland, who came out to the Purim celebration due to their poetry professor Nate Marshall. This was their first YCA event and first experience with a Purim celebration in all...

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Halal If You Hear Me: A Night of Diaspora Poetry

Halal If You Hear Me: A Night of Diaspora Poetry

Written by Christian Sanchez
photos via Twitter

As part of Louder Than A Bomb Poetry Festival, Halal If You Hear Me was a night of performance centered on Muslim artists, as well as community building led by the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN).

Halal If You Hear Me was hosted at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. Many came out to the west side LTAB17 event, some created space for themselves to sit in aisles and others stood in the back waiting for the open mic to start. The museum’s Director Jennifer Scott welcomed the crowd and introduced the host for the night, poet Safia Elhillo. Elhillo’s first full length collection The January Children was released by University of Nebraska Press this month. She has also been featured in The BreakBeat Poets:...

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Listen to the Poem!

Listen to the Poem!

By Marlena Wadley, Nick Dimas, Christian Sanchez and Tanya Munoz 
photos via YCA

Louder Than a Bomb is coming to an end, and bout by bout teams leave us; but even the squads that don’t move on leave us with words and feelings that will linger for weeks. On March 2nd and 3rd, the top 32 teams took part in LTAB’s quarter finals at Malcolm X College on the West Side of Chicago.

Young poets, eager to share their truths and stories, paced back and forth in front of the auditorium doors. Outside, teams practiced their poems to a wall, or a small crowd. Other teams huddled together and held hands.

It’s intimidating, going up on stage and sharing your emotions with a room full of people, then getting a score. However, facilitators and hosts constantly reminded the students that,...

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Queeriosity: The Place to be Unapologetically Queer

Queeriosity: The Place to be Unapologetically Queer

By Tanya Munoz and Tommy Brannigan
photos via YCA

On Wednesday, March 1st, Columbia College Chicago’s building, Conway Center was a joyous and queer get together. People packed the room for one of YCA’s many open mics, Queeriosity, a poetry salon for queer, and questioning youth, to perform, hear, and write poems. Around 6pm, queer folks came through the doors, signed up to perform, laughed with one another, complemented one another, ate donuts, and sat next to someone who probably had a similar coming out story. The lights were dim, the DJ table was decorated in rainbow and heart banners, and their was a small table that displayed handmade zines from local Chicago artists. Behind the table was H. Melt, in pink suspenders, one of the facilitators for Queeriosity.

One of the best parts about Queeriosity are the hosts. At...

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