Pritzker Students take on Louder Than A Bomb stage

Left to right: Angelica Fernandez, Melinda Hernandez, Veronica Lopez, and Joshua Soto performing on stage at Columbia College. Photo credit: Nicole Amato

By Mireya Aguilar  ’16 and Yomaira Herrera ’17

Angelica Fernandez, a senior, Veronica Lopez, a junior, Joshua Soto, a sophomore, and Melinda Hernandez, a junior and founder of Pritzker’s Spoken Word Poetry club, performed on the Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) stage at Columbia College Chicago on February 26.

The atmosphere in the auditorium felt welcoming since the moment people walked in. Five judges sit in the first row, waiting to see new and old spoken word poetry club members perform.

Poets went over each line of their poem under their breathe before the competition began. The lights dim as the host hyped up the crowd, questioning if they’re ready for the show. As the competition continued, the excitement in the room only increased.

Pritzker’s spoken word poetry club audience sets norms before the show and during. Part of creating a safe zone, the host allows the audience to repeat things that he or she states as part of an oath to not allow such things as sexist, ageist, and homophobic judgements allowed. Also, the audience yells, “Listen to the poem!” every time they disagree with a judge’s score.

Louder Than A Bomb is the largest youth poetry festival in the world. It is an opportunity for poets to share their story on a platform.  Over 120 Chicago schools competing in poetry bouts.

Soto, like many other young poets, doesn’t let this opportunity go. Soto wrote about his hometown, Chicago, and  the crime that destroys the image of it such as the slang word, Chi-raq. He allowed his voice to be heard in a crowd of a bunch of strangers. However, his family and friends stood on the side to see his performance, which helped him stand tall on stage.  He chases his dream to be a rapper and hopes LTAB will get him there.

Fernandez also sees LTAB as an opportunity to express her true self, “LTAB is my escape. Poetry is how I express myself.” After watching the documentary on Louder Than A Bomb in 7th grade, Fernandez saw a door opening, “I was fascinated with the idea of some poems being so powerful that they refuse to be satisfied sitting on paper.”

Hernandez, a junior states, “LTAB is the best festival in the world. I’ve made my closest friends through poetry on Louder than a bomb stages. The competition is friendly and open.

Hernandez’s passion for poetry is shown through her emotion, hand motions and face expressions in every single one of her pieces.  Her inspirations for her poems come from things she sees every day in Chicago. Some of her poems are based on other’s stories as well as her own stories. Some of her pieces include A bill for whites and Sunflower. These poems are based on what she sees and her own story.  Hernandez also brings up her club and states, “I joined LTAB because I wanted to have a voice in my school, community, and world.”

One of her poems is titled A bill of rights. When  she performs it, every single word stands out with the emotion she puts into it during a performance. One of many of the lines of this poem stands out to the audience, “Manifest Destiny is starting to look a lot lit modern day gentrification.” Hernandez’s emotion fills the room and audience snaps their fingers as an agreement.

Hernandez also states, “ LTAB is for anyone looking to get out of their comfort zone and meet creative people.” Currently, there are four total students at Pritzker involved in LTAB. These four students have a talent for poetry and their talent is shown in every single one of their individual poems. All four have taken the LTAB and have received high scores. Their emotions bring their words to life and get their point across to the audience.

Over 110 teams performed at the LTAB prelims. Hernandez, Fernandez, and Lopez were announced as part of LTAB’s indy, who made it to quarterfinals. Three quarterfinalists performed at Malcolm X. College on March 5 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Quarterfinalists were able to bring new poems onto stage. However, unfortunately, they were not able to make it past quarterfinals.