Fire hosts the Kzoo Youth Poetry Slam to amplify youth voice and the experiences of young people in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The point is not the points, the point is the poetry and the people power we can build through listening. The top ten scoring youth will build together as a team in April before heading to Michigan Louder than a Bomb.
Where do we go after the Kzoo Youth Poetry Slam? The Michigan chapter of Louder Than a Bomb (LTAB) is a statewide teen poetry slam festival entering its fourth year. Modeled after Chicago’s highly successful pilot festival now in its 15th season, LTAB teams are represented by high schools and teen-serving organizations from across Michigan. After three years in Ann Arbor, the festival will transition to a new and exciting re-launch, hosted in Detroit in the spring. LTAB is rooted in community enrichment and driven by teen voice. It’s about crossing geographic boundaries and building personal connections through literary arts. It’s about providing teen-driven space to share the stories, reflections, and experiences that matter to the young people of Michigan.
What do you NEED to know? Your voice and story matters. You are ready. All you need is yourself and two poems that are 3 minutes each. Memorization not required. Register to get more informed and prepared.
Adapted from Michigan Louder than a Bomb requirements and Young Chicago Authors. QUALIFICATIONS FOR PARTICIPATION
Participants must be enrolled in a junior high, high school, or a GED program (or have completed it during the academic year) and be 19 years old or younger on the day of the event.
If a student graduates high school prior to turning 18, they may not compete on a team.
All poets are required to state their name before they begin their piece.
To encourage community and positive energy in the space, poets may engage with their teammates in a brief call and response prior to beginning their piece.
Timing will begin at first utterance after statement of team name or team shout out.
Any titles, dedications, or prefaces to the piece will be included in the allotted time.
Each poem must be under 3 minutes in length. Scores will be penalized for going over the time limit. Penalties will begin at 3:10, with a .5 point deduction for every ten seconds over time.
Poets will be asked to leave the stage if they reach 5:00
Participants must perform pieces of their own original writing. Participants who plagiarize will be disqualified. Clearly quoting/sampling other works and utilizing literary allusions are not plagiarism.
PROPS, COSTUMES, & MUSIC
Props, costumes, and/or musical accompaniment may not be used in the slam (i.e. performing a piece involving a hoodie and wearing a hoodie is allowed. Using a hoodie you’re wearing as a prop to emphasize your words is not. Dressing as a team in a way that illustrates the content of your piece is also grounds for deduction).
There is no censorship in the slam, however no racist, sexist, homophobic, gender-biased, ableist, or otherwise derogatory speech that is degrading to any specific group of people will be tolerated. Failure to heed this can result in point deduction as determined by the bout manager and grandmaster slam.
Louder Than a Bomb RECOMMENDATIONS
LTAB is rooted in the craft of poetry. Although we encourage poets to hone their performances skills, writing and language is valued over any performance elements.
We encourage you to memorize your poems, though it is not required.
We encourage teams to have alternate members, in case some team members need to drop out of the festival at any point.
Don’t start your poem until you are ready. Make sure the mics are well placed and that the audience and judges can hear you. A bout manager will be there to assist you with what you need.
Be respectful of yourself, the youth writing community, and the group you represent.
Bring people out to support you when you read.
We advise teams to have as much fun as possible and be as prepared as they can be.
We encourage coaches to talk to their poets about Louder Than A Bomb as a poetry festival, where community-building and sharing of poetry is more important than winning.