So, what exactly is LTAB?

Louder Than a Bomb: The Michigan Youth Poetry Slam is a weekend-long festival that takes place at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Several teams made up of high school-aged writers, representing schools and organizations across the state, meet for a robust schedule of competitive poetry slam bouts, intensive craft and performance workshops, and many other special events.

In short, the goal of the festival is to connect young writers with one another and to cultivate a rich network of youth artists in Michigan. It’s no secret that we use the competition as a gimmick to engage an outside audience, but the real work and magic of LTAB happens in the artistic and personal connections made at the ground level.

Our very first event of the weekend is called Crossing the Street, bringing together all 200+ youth into the same space to meet, engage, and create original compositions with each other on-the-spot. In this spirit, we hold several spaces throughout the festival that aim to deactivate the dog-eat-dog mentality that can come with any competitive space. This year, the festival will include a youth-led open mic, the MC Olympics, and Half-Pint Poetics, among other intentional spaces for community building and collaboration.

Learn more about this year’s festival on our Events page.

Statement of Purpose:

LTAB seeks to cultivate a space that allows young people—too often marginalized by the adult world—to speak and be heard. In Chicago, LTAB grew rapidly as students found out about the competition and began to organize poetry clubs at their schools. LTAB provided youth with a reason to pursue their writing and a forum in which to convene with other young writers. In the last several years, nearly a dozen satellite festivals from Tulsa to DC to the West Coast have been launched.

LTAB brings young people together in ways that are unthinkable in most other settings. A shared love of writing and performing creates bonds where typically there are boundaries. Students surmount cultural and socio-economic differences to take part in an experience where young writers learn about themselves while listening to the words of others.

These things are possible because InsideOut Literary Arts Project has combined friendly competition with a grounded, contemporary, and populist approach to poetry. This approach creates a culture where the telling of honest, authentic stories with the voices of young witnesses is not only valued, but is essential to building bridges between isolated populations.

Adapted with permission from Young Chicago Authors