Over 900 student poets from one hundred Chicago high schools participated in the world’s largest youth poetry slam; Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB). Louder Than A Bomb 2013 “Return to the Craft” took place from February 16 – March 9 at different venues across Chicago. With Mayor Rahm Emanuel in attendance, the finals featured 4 out of nearly one hundred participating teams and other young poets.

Emma Coleman of Northside College Prep won this year’s Individual Finals with her poem “Even the Toilets in Catholic Middle School are Blessed.” Kuumba Lynx won the Team Finals for the third time in the last twelve years.

According to the Young Chicago Authors website Kuumba Lynx (KL) is an Arts and Education Organization located on the North side of Chicago at Clarendon Park and KL “has a mission of working to provide access to programs that preserve, promote, and present urban arts and culture.”

Bader TV News reported LTAB emphasizes “self-expression, and community via poetry, oral storytelling, and hip-hop spoken word for young people of all races, socio-economic status, and cultures.” Because of LTAB students from Chicago and its surrounding areas can come together and listen to each others’ story.

“The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival offers a counter-narrative from the perspectives of the young people most affected by the violence,” said Kevin Coval, cofounder and Artistic Director on the Young Chicago Authors website.

“During the course of the festival we will certainly hear the horrors of what it’s like to be a young person in a moment when the city feels, for some, like a warzone, and we will also be privy to the hopes and dreams and blueprints out of such predicaments,” he added.

Coval also added that “in the most segregated and most violent city in America, these are the stories that go unheard and unreported. Louder Than a Bomb is the platform and forum where they can be listened to, one young person at time, from every neighborhood in Chicago.”

Cofounded by Kevin Coval and Anna West, who are both Chicago-based poets and educators, and in collaboration with Young Chicago Authors in 2001, LTAB is now in its 13th year.

LTAB has now expanded to 12 cities and states, including South Africa.