The Wilson Poetry Club won first place in the preliminary round of the Louder Than A Bomb slam poetry tournament at BusBoys and Poets this Sunday, May 7th, paving the way for their ascension to the final round of the competition on May 13th at the Kennedy Center.
Louder Than A Bomb, hosted by the DC youth poetry organization, Split This Rock, is an offshoot of a Chicago group of the same name. It was brought to the DMV six years ago by the current program coordinator, Joseph Green.
“The goal of Louder Than a Bomb is very simple,” Green said. “It’s using the power of storytelling and poetry to bring people from different walks of life, from different socioeconomic backgrounds, from different geographic places all together in one spot to create a network of interested and passionate young people who will eventually change the world.”
And that’s exactly what Sunday’s event was about. For two hours, the poets performed pieces touching subjects from racism, to sexism, to body shaming, and personal stories of sexual assault.
“Slam poetry gives young people a chance to say their piece on a lot of different issues, and say their piece in a way that I think everybody can digest,” Kenny Carroll, a member of Wilson’s Poetry Club and DC’s Youth Poet Laureate, said.
The performances evoked snaps, tears, shouts and everything-in-between from the crowd. The competing teams actively supported each other: if any poet onstage was faltering, it would be a matter of seconds before encouraging snaps resounded in the room. The competitive aspect of the tournament was only a side factor to the poetry itself.
Sunday was the third and final preliminary event, with teams from Dunbar High School in the District, Hayfield Secondary School in Fairfax County, TC Williams from Alexandria, and, of course, Wilson. The pieces were rated by judges on a scale of 1 to 10, and score averages calculated at the end determined who would continue on to the next round. Wilson’s six-member team averaged very high scores throughout the day. Opinions Editor Nasirah Fair performed a commanding and melodic ode to the female body and soul; Kenny Carroll, Kamari Price, and Isaiah King gave a powerful piece about racial stereotypes; and Robyn Patterson and Hannah Schuster finished it off for the team with a piece on female body empowerment and ownership.
“We have a lot of diversity in our pieces, just because Wilson as a school brings a lot of different people,” Carroll said. “We might talk about our identity as a woman, as someone who is in the LGBTQ community, as black people, as people of color in general. We’ve also had poems about Doritos. We go a lot of places with our poems, and I think that’s metaphor for us as a team.”
PHOTO BY PAMELA GARDNER