Last week’s Louder Than a Bomb MA preliminary bouts, held at UMass Boston over the course of two days, showcased some truly amazing youth poets. The BHS slam team had the opportunity to witness the authenticity, passion, and talent of young voices speaking their truths and sharing their stories. The poetry was phenomenal, but the students gained so much more than a series of new favorite young authors. Continuing the sense of community established at the Crossing the Street Ceremony, the poets in each preliminary bout made the competition secondary to the experience of sharing a love of language and a sense of belonging. Every student’s voice was heard, accepted, and celebrated. Although there were winners announced at the end of each bout, every team left feeling victorious.
The highlight of the poetry presented in each bout was definitely the performance of the group poems. Each team had four poets take the stage to share a poem the team wrote collaboratively. Effective execution of a group poem is extremely challenging, but the exercise is one of the most important components of the entire festival. Collaborative writing strengthens each individual author’s ability- specifically in developing synthesis, rhythmic properties, and choral elements. Additionally, it requires choreography and understanding of audience engagement. While difficult, it is also a very empowering experience for young writers to work through some difficult subject matter through poetic expression with the support of a writing group.
After an emotional day full of poetry, each slam team had the opportunity to participate in several workshops ranging from creating spaces for social activism to emceeing a slam. These sessions allowed students to continue building the relationships they started at the Crossing the Street Ceremony while gaining more of an understanding of self and how their personal stories connect to those of others.
Lorraine Kanyike’s individual poem, “Sunbeam Queen”
Gabrielle Goulette’s individual poem “Dear Eighth Graders”