Louder Than a Bomb: The Michigan Youth Poetry Festival began as a satellite project based after the model from MacArthur award-winning partners, Young Chicago Authors(YCA). Chicago’s highly successful pilot festival, now in their 15th season, has become the largest youth poetry festival in the world. Founded in 2001, the event attracts 1,000+ participants from 120+ schools in over 100 different Chicagoland zip codes.
The experience of Chicago’s LTAB was captured beautifully in Jon Siskel and Greg Jacobs’ 2010 award-winning full-length documentary, Louder Than a Bomb. The movie screened at film festivals around the country eventually traveling abroad, exposing tens of thousands of people to the festival’s work. It was not long before youth and cultural organizations around the world were in conversation with YCA, asking for help creating LTAB festivals in their own cities.
In 2013, InsideOut Literary Arts Project and The Neutral Zone produced Michigan’s first annual LTAB event in Ann Arbor with support from Ann Arbor State Bank and the University of Michigan Library System. Organizers realized that Michigan, unlike Chicago, had dense pockets of impactful youth-serving literary arts programs spread across the state. For this reason, the festival was founded as a statewide venture.
The festival made a big transition in 2015, when it migrated to Detroit and Wayne State University. That fall, LTAB received a two-year Knight Arts Challenge award from The John S. And James L. Knight Foundation, allowing the festival to grow substantially and reach even more young writers. Support from Wayne State University helped establish the college campus as a destination for the festival’s various stages and convening spaces in the future.
As the festival moves into the future, it seeks to represent an even larger number of Michigan cities, schools, and organizations. Are you interested in being a part of the LTAB community? Join us in being a part of the experience!
Past Team Champions:
2013 – Citywide Poets, Detroit
2014 – Pioneer High School, Ann Arbor
2015 – Washtenaw International High School (Ypsilanti)
2016 – Team Elements (Troy Public Library)
2017 – Detroit Youth Poetry Slam Team