Skip to main content


Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival

The largest of its kind in the world, the 11th Annual Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) is Chicago’s rapidly-growing teen poetry festival, this year taking place at various venues around Chicago beginning February 19 with finals on March 12, 2011.

Aiming to bring teens together across racial, gang, and socio-economic lines, LTAB is a friendly competition that emphasizes self-expression and community through poetry, oral story-telling, and hip-hop spoken word. Traditionally operating outside of regular school programming, LTAB teams are often founded by students and coached pro-bono by teachers. Based on alumni surveys, LTAB boasts an 85% high school graduation rate and since inception has had zero incidents of violence. This year’s festival will feature 70 teams and 650 students, the largest number of participants to date. The festival is an Olympic-style poetry competition with slam preliminaries and semi-final bouts running all day February 19 – March 7, followed by finals at The Vic Theater, 3145 North Sheffield Avenue, on Saturday, March 12 at 6pm. In addition to the competition there will be workshops, showcases, and panel discussions - see below for a complete schedule.

“LTAB is a safe and judgment free outlet where kids from all over the city can share stories and break stereotypes, challenging themselves and their audience,” explains author and LTAB co-founder and artistic director Kevin Coval. “For three minutes at a time the students speak about their lives, but for the other eighty-seven minutes, they are listening to the lives and stories and dreams of others.”

If you would like to explore volunteering for Louder Than a Bomb, click here for more information.


Friday, February 25 - Sunday, March 6 (various times)
Louder Than a Bomb Prelims
Columbia College Chicago (various locations)
$5 for adults/$3 for students
*Group Sales are available in advance; click here for more information

Friday, February 25 at 7pm
Roger Bonair-Agard and Idris Goodwin Book Release
Columbia College Chicago (618 S. Michigan)

Saturday, February 26 at 2pm
Half-Pint Poetics Open Mic
Columbia College Chicago (1104 S. Wabash)

Saturday, February 26 at 7pm
Reading by Amalia Ortiz and Paul Martinez
Columbia College Chicago (1014 S. Michigan)

Wednesday, March 2 at 7:30pm
The Encyclopedia Show
Vittum Theater (1012 N. Noble)
$8 for adults/$5 for students 

Thursday, March 3 at 6pm
Reading with Rachel McKibbens and Shannon Matesky
Columbia College Chicago (1104 S. Wabash)

Friday, March 4 at 2pm
Haiku Slam
Columbia College Chicago (618 S. Michigan)

Friday, March 4 at 4pm and 6pm
Workshop with Rachel McKibbens followed by the Emcee Olympics
Columbia College Chicago (618 S. Michigan)

Saturday, March 5 at 2pm
Duo Slam
Columbia College Chicago (618 S. Michigan)

Saturday, March 5 at 7pm
College Slam Finals
Columbia College Chicago (618 S. Michigan)
$5 general admission

Sunday, March 6 at 2pm
Panel Discussion: Using Spoken Word in the Classroom
Columbia College Chicago (618 S. Michigan)

Sunday, March 6 at 4pm
Coach’s Slam
Columbia College Chicago (618 S. Michigan)
Monday, March 7 beginning at 10am
Louder Than a Bomb Semi-Finals
Steppenwolf Theatre (1650 N. Halsted Street)
$10 for adults/$5 for students*
*FREE to anyone with a Chicago Public Schools ID card

Wednesday, March 9 at 7pm
Louder Than a Bomb Individual Poet Finals
Victory Gardens Biograph Theater (2433 North Lincoln Avenue)
$10 for adults/$5 for students

Saturday, March 12 at 6pm
Louder Than a Bomb Team Finals
The Vic Theater (3145 North Sheffield Avenue)
$20 for adults/$10 for students

Louder Than a Bomb is co-presented by Columbia College Chicago and Vocalo 89.5FM/WBEZ 91.5FM.

YOUNG CHICAGO AUTHORS is grateful for support from Alphawood Foundation, Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development, The Boeing Company, C.N.A. Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Tribune Foundation, The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs-CityArts Program 2, Chicago Public Media (WBEZ 91.5 FM), Columbia College Chicago, Crown Family Philanthropies, Just Indulge, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Lovely Bake Shop, Illinois Arts Council, MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, McCormick Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, The Poetry Foundation, Sahara Enterprises, Inc., Schopf & Weiss Charitable Giving Fund, Speh Family Foundation, and contributions from many individual donors and community partners.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.