Whenever something scores 100% on rotten tomatoes, it has my attention. When that thing scoring 100% is a documentary on an urban poetry competition and secondary education, it pretty quickly acquires my passionate and unwavering love.
Louder Than a Bomb follows the lives of Chicago high schoolers who participate in their schools’ poetry teams. The teams are all preparing to compete in the upcoming annual slam poetry contest, Louder Than a Bomb. Throughout the documentary, we are invited to witness the incredible effects of teaching students to access and share deep emotions and intense experiences via spoken word poetry. The students featured in the documentary for the most part did not claim “poet,” “writer,” or “reader” as one of their identities prior to joining these clubs. They are generally not the students whose personal interests and identity choices naturally align themselves with verbal and artistic expression. And yet, under the influence of dedicated and skilled teachers, they come to lay claim to a form of expression that is beautiful, powerful, and entirely their own. The poetry they create is genuinely stunning. The way that poetry informs and shapes their paths as students is even more so.
I can’t imagine anyone from any walk of life watching this film without taking something away. That being said, this film is full to the brim of wisdom for educators in particular. It’s a powerful reminder that even the most unlikely of students can create beautiful works of art and achieve great things, but they need the faith of their educators. We need to believe they can achieve and we need to gently and loving push them to do so.
Below is a preview for the documentary, but my advice would be to just go right ahead and watch the whole thing. It packs a punch.
You can watch the full film on Netflix, Amazon, and what I’m sure are a wide variety of other locations. Trust me on this one; it’s a good use of your time.
Boston actually has their own LTAB competition that has been going on for 3 years now! They have yet to set a 2015 date, but, when they do, they have all kinds of different ways to get involved and support the event. You can also check out Boston’s 2014 LTAB Facebook page for footage of last year’s finals, which were truly impressive. At the very least, it’s an event that every teacher in the greater Boston area can and should stay informed on and aware of!