Louder Than a Bomb: a slam festival that expands on Student Day of Poetry


Friday March 30th through Sunday April 1st Massachusetts Institute of Technology will play host to Massachusetts’ first Louder Than a Bomb festival. The festival, founded by Anna West and Kevin Coval in 2001, originated in Chicago. It is the largest youth poetry slam in the world. The Louder Than a Bomb festival allows youths to showcase their talent through spoken word in the form of a friendly competition. The festival also allows diverse and distant communities to appreciate their differences and similarities as the students listen to their peers express themselves. The Chicago Louder Than a Bomb festival is the subjects of a feature length documentary which captures the inspirational force of the festival.

Louder Than a Bomb expands from Student Day of Poetry

This year, Mass Poetry and Mass L.E.A.P. are teaming up to present the first Louder Than a Bomb festival in Massachusetts. The slam festival expands on the annual Student Day of Poetry, which is separate this year from Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Salem. Teachers wishing to take their classes to the MIT-hosted Student Day of Poetry on March 30, register here. The Louder Than a Bomb festival requires a separate registration (see below).

Louder Than a Bomb will bring together over 20 teams from across the state. Each team will be comprised of four to six students between the ages of 14-19 who will perform their original poetry without musical accompaniment or props. Teams will perform a mix of individual and group poems which will be scored by judges based on the writing, content and performance. Though the slam festival is home to a competition, it is not the soul of the festival. The focus of the festival is inspiring youth poets to feel empowered by their own voices, as well as to foster a creative community.

The Louder Than a Bomb Massachusetts slam festival will engage students in a number of events. On March 30th from 8-3pm, teams will participatie in an opening ceremony and writing workshops, which will create an open and creative atmosphere for the festival. The workshops will be led by talented poets and performers. Students will also get a chance to share their own poetry and stories during an open mic session MIT’s Kresge Theater.! The festival has a great series of performances set up for participants, including an exciting preview performance by Hoop Suite, which is set to premiere this summer in the Boston area. Hoop Suite is an interdisciplinary act that combines music, dance and spoken word to create a unique performance.  You won’t want to miss this exclusive preview.

The cut-off day for registration is January 31st. Teams interested in registering should sign up immediately. To register go to www.massleapcollective.org/louder-than-a-bomb/. Teams who have already successfully registered should start rehearsing. There’s no time like the present!  Get inspired by watching and listening to other spoken word poets. Start brainstorming together about the poetry and performances. Have fun with this process, let the creativity flow and remember that the goal of the festival is to have participants feel empowered and creative through spoken word and the community it creates.

Louder Than A Bomb Mass Festival Dates

Friday, March 30th (11:15am – 2:00pm)

Crossing the Street (runs concurrently with and as part of Student Day of Poetry)

Workshops and community building just for registered LTAB teams

Saturday, March 31st (10:00am – 6:00pm)


All LTAB teams compete twice

Sunday, April 1st (12:00 – 6:00pm)


The 8 teams with the highest Preliminary scores compete

Friday, April 13th (6:30 – 9pm)

Finals. The top 4 teams to win Semi-Finals compete for the title of Mass Slam Champion.

Volunteers needed

Interested in participating in the festival behind the scenes? Volunteers can sign up at the website mentioned above. Many people contribute to the success of the festival: from planning and promoting it, to helping facilitate activities on the actual day. Volunteers can register participants, sell tickets, and keep score among other tasks.

Among those volunteering with Louder Than a Bomb are Eve Ewing and Amanda Torres. Both Eve and Amanda are alumni, former coaches of the Chicago Louder Than a Bomb festival. Eve says of the Chicago festival, “Alumni traditionally return year after year to help organize the festival. That’s partially how we build community from year to year, and part of what makes LTAB special!” It is our hope that Massachusetts can produce such an inspiring community around poetry.