The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Why Louder Than A Bomb Still Matters After 15 Years

By Julia Weeman in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 21, 2015 5:00PM

Photo courtesy Louder Than A Bomb

What started with 60 students in four schools is now the largest youth poetry festival on the planet. Louder Than A Bomb got its start in 2001, when Young Chicago Authors Artistic Director Kevin Coval saw the opportunity to give the youth of Chicago a way to share their stories on stage. Young Chicago Authors partners with schools and community groups to provide workshops and mentor programs to engage students with an interest in creative writing, so Louder Than A Bomb was a natural extension of the organization.

Louder Than A Bomb began with students from four high schools competing on stage in spoken word events. The organization has spread to 140 area schools with over 1,300 students involved and festivals from Omaha to Boston. Their success is no surprise, given their mission: contributing to a positive youth culture, providing students the tools they need to craft and share their stories, invigorating educational spaces and creating platforms for emerging artists to gain a foothold doing what they love.

The program provides an amazing outlet for students to use their writing to express themselves and the added component of performing to an audience is a great confidence builder. Jon Siskel & Greg Jacob's 2010 award-winning documentary, Louder Than A Bomb, beautifully depicts the life-changing impact the experience has on young writers. Their focus on breaking cultural and socio-economic boundaries gives students the unique opportunity to not only share their words, but value each other's.

Louder Than A Bomb is celebrating 15 years with a full day of fundraising events, all hosted by actors Alec Baldwin and Alfre Woodard, and co-founder of A Tribe Called Quest Ali Shaheed Muhammad. The day starts with an 11 a.m. Sunday brunch and film screening at Soho House and continues at the Black Ensemble Theater with a pre-show cocktails and hors d'oeuvres reception at 6 p.m., leading up to a 7:30 p.m. performance by current participants as well as alumni of Young Chicago Authors..

At the Louder Than A Bomb Sunday Brunch, guests will get to see segments of the documentary as well as live spoken word poetry performances in the intimate 30 seat screening room at Soho House. Tickets are $1000 and include access to the 7:30 p.m. evening show.

A surprise celebrity chef will join the celebrity host team for the evening reception, which includes drinks & bites on the stage of the Black Ensemble Theatre. Tickets are $375 and include access to the Louder Than A Bomb show, entitled Re-imagining Chicago. Tickets for the show are $100 and the performance vignettes will range from spoken word poetry to musical numbers. Tickets for all events are available online here.