If you haven’t been to the site of the Favorite Poem Project, brew yourself a cup of hot coffee and sit down for a spell – “for a spell” meaning duration in Southern lingo and “for a spell” meaning a magical communion with language. This is a site for poetry lovers and for those who haven’t thought about poetry since high school. It’s a place to fall in love again, a place to listen to people reciting and talking about their favorite poems.
Poetry in Massachusetts has what seems to be the early signs of becoming an “in” thing with teenagers. The evidence is anecdotal but specific poetry events for high school students are being enthusiastically received. Not only is the Student Day of Poetry, sponsored by Mass Poetry, growing in numbers and excitement each year, but so are other programs, such as Poetry Out Loud, sponsored locally by the Huntington Theater. Last year’s SDOP generated the enthusiasm of a pep rally as did a recent POL event at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School where friends were applauding and shouting from the audience to their poetry-reciting pals.
Sam Cha: featured at this year’s SDOP
The year’s SDOP, which will be held at UMass Boston on March 21, is set to continue the trend. (Teachers, register here to bring your classes.) This week we begin a series on the poets who will take their poems to the stage, stirring a passion in the lucky students who get to attend the event. One of those agents of enthusiasm is this week’s SDOP feature poet Sam Cha. [Read more...]
Are you a Massachusetts high school student? Are you a Massachusetts high school teacher? Do you know a Massachusetts high school student or teacher? Then get the word out about an exciting poetry contest students can enter.
When was the last time you burst from your seat with a whoop and holler because polite applause was just not enough? Don’t think Red Sox or Patriots, think poetry. Think Louder than a Bomb (LTAB), the Massachusetts youth poetry festival – an event that lived up to its name May 23rd! In an audience made up of people representing birth years from the 1920s to the late 1990s, the energy was uniform. If you were at the Boston University Theatre for the finals of the festival competition, you were certainly one of those on your feet.
(Participants and masspoetry.org weren’t the only ones cheering on the young poets. See the Boston Globe article on the preliminary contest.)
Last year Mass LEAP, the youth programming arm of Mass Poetry, attracted 16 teams with over 100 young people participating in a poetry program called Louder than a Bomb (LTAB). This year the enthusiasm for the nascent program has almost doubled across the state, with 24 teams and close to 180 teens participating in free workshops, presentations and poetry slams.
Louder than a Bomb (LTAB) Massachusetts is a youth poetry program that can change lives. Those that work with the program make that claim because they have seen it happen to young people they’ve worked with. And some of them have felt that change in their own lives as they got involved in Chicago where the program began.
But the program needs your financial help now.
Here are the facts: This weekend (March 2 and 3) the regional contests for the Poetry Out Loud program will be held in Boston, Framingham, Springfield and South Yarmouth. The winners of the regional contests will meet the following weekend (March 10) to determine who will represent Massachusetts in the nation-wide contest, held in Washington, D.C. on April 29-30. The Massachusetts division of the contest is sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Huntington Theater, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. [Read more...]
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.
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.
The MassPOP poet residency program served the North Allston/Brighton area through an integrated yearlong program of intensive poet teaching sessions at the Gardner Pilot Academy, a reading series at the Honan-Allston Library, and a partnership with a local letterpress studio, Firefly Press, in the creation of a commemorative printed product for students and the community. The program was multi-faceted, in that the primary focus was the teaching component, and the scope of the program involved and enriched the general North Allston/Brighton community.
The goals of the North Allston/Brighton poet residency program were as follows:
- To provide local elementary students with the basic tools for understanding, appreciating, writing and reading a wide range of poetry.
- To empower the students in their relationship with language as a means of creative expression and to develop their abilities of description, articulation, and observation.
- To fund two poet residents that would provide Gardner Pilot Academy students with role models demonstrating the viability of artistic expression and creative writing and exposing students to the living practice of poetry.
- To facilitate student publication of their work through the creation of a physical culminating printed project. And to introduce students to the medium of letterpress printing, an art form with strong ties to the poetry world.
- To promote collaboration between local teachers and poets and to enrich and expand upon the existing poetry curriculum.
- To impact the larger North Allston/Brighton community with a local reading series, support for local Boston artists, and the formation of partnerships for further collaborations with the community
The poet residents chosen for this year received a stipend, a local reading and a printed commemorative broadside.
The two poets chosen for the 2009-2010 school year were:
Patrick Donnelly is the author of The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003, since 2009 part of Copper Canyon Press) and Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin, forthcoming from Four Way Books. He is a 2008 recipient of an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is the Associate Editor of Poetry International.
Jason Roush is the author of three books of poems: After Hours (2005), Breezeway (2007), and Crosstown (2009). He teaches writing, literature, and cultural studies at Emerson College.
This program was made possible by a grant from the Harvard Allston Partnership Fund.
For more information contact Chloe Garcia Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org