Louder Than a Bomb: Great Plains is so big and so loud that it must be experienced to be fully appreciated. What’s it all about?
- It is about hundreds of students from 40+ Nebraska and Iowa high schools spending hundreds of hours with dozens of NWC Teaching Artists to create original performance poetry.
- It is about teams working on individual and group pieces that are performed in front of thousands of people.
- It is about bringing together diverse students from every conceivable background in a safe space where they can find common ground.
- Most of all, it is about using poetry and creative self-expression to forge a community that feels more like family.
This is not your typical writing workshop. LTAB: Great Plains puts some of our community’s most accomplished poets in a position where they can truly mentor students over a period of months, from September through April each year. It gives students a chance to write, revise, and rehearse original performance poetry that is so refined that it is often indistinguishable from that of professional poets. In fact, several LTAB alumni have gone on to represent Nebraska at the National Poetry Slam, and some have come back after graduating to serve as NWC Teaching Artists.
The LTAB Tournament
Each April all teams participating in LTAB: Great Plains participate in a month-long tournament that culminates in separate Team Finals and Individual Finals events. While the competitive aspect of the tournament inspires students to do their best, all of them know the Golden Rule of slam poetry, which is that “the points are not the point. The point is poetry.”
The tournament gives students from different schools who normally would not interact an opportunity to reach across socioeconomic, racial, cultural, religious, and other divides. The feeling of acceptance, belonging, and understanding is evident at every bout, where students clap and yell just as loudly for students from other schools as they do for students from their own.
LTAB: Great Plains is an exercise in personal empowerment and community building. It is a response to students no longer having the opportunity for creative self-expression, and whose voices are increasingly marginalized by test-driven school curricula. It is an attempt to re-establish a sense of community in a world that is increasingly divisive and comprised of insular groups.
Throughout the years it has proven its ability to engage students who normally are not interested in participating in the arts and creates an environment that is competitive enough to encourage students to do their best possible work, but one where rivalries never form and participants feel a true sense of community.
Ready to Bring LTAB to Your School?
Louder Than a Bomb: Great Plains expands to new schools and youth organizations every year. Please contact NWC Executive Director Matt Mason for more information about participating in the preliminary workshops and forming a team for the 2016-2017 season.
You can learn more about LTAB at www.ltabgreatplains.org.
“To me, Louder Than a Bomb is acceptance. Acceptance of people that have had trouble finding that before and couldn’t be more grateful that they found it here.” – Camille M., Lincoln High School
“I love LTAB. I do not honestly know where I would be without it … I have gained a family.” – Cheyanne B., Thomas Jefferson High School