Eight years ago, Nebraska Writers Collective Executive Director Matt Mason brought the idea of a slam poetry festival to Omaha. Modeled after a similar event in Chicago, the Great Plains chapter of Louder Than a Bomb (LTAB) started in the spring of 2012 with teams from 13 schools. Currently, more than 600 students from 46 schools are involved in LTAB programs that work with students to explore the benefits of creative writing and participate in creative writing activities. The team from Burke High School, made up of sophomores and juniors, have worked on their group and individual poems in preparation to compete in this spring’s competition.
Edge: Why did each of you decide to join LTAB?
Mack Malone: My passion is creative writing, and I like writing poetry. But I decided to join the team after my English teacher my freshman year recommended it.
Jordan Petersen: I had heard of LTAB and went to a few slam poetry sessions. Then one of my friends said I should join, so I tried it.
Natalia Trejo: I want to be an author someday and had been looking for a writing club. I really enjoyed it the first time I attended.
Edge: What do you like best about LTAB?
Antonia Ralph: I enjoy the coaches we have and really like the competition. Last year I wrote the group poem, but I’ll perform for the first time this year. I’m nervous but am just going to stand up there and do it. I’m in a lot of other activities but have never connected with people the way I have with this group. It makes me excited to come to school on days we meet.
Mack: I like sharing my feelings about topics and hearing everyone’s else’s viewpoints too. I also like seeing how people react to my poems. The vulnerability doesn’t bother me. It actually helps people understand me, and I like that.
Jordan: I love the people in the group and how close we are. We’re this little family, there to support each other and make sure you do the best job you can. It’s a lot of work but it’s also fun.
Natalia: It’s a great feeling when people react to your poem. I like listening to other people’s ideas and being able to portray how you feel with words. I’m also a competition person, so I like winning.
Edge: What types of poems do you write?
Jordan: Anything I’m passionate about. They’re either very dark or very light and comedic. It allows me to write about topics I’m interested in, but in a way that’s not harmful to anyone. I can put my own feelings into a different perspective. It’s a really cool process.
Mack: When we do group poems it’s about life and how to enjoy life. The one we’re writing now is about how life is like a plane ride—you don’t completely control it, some people panic over it, etc.
Antonia: The group collaborative process is challenging, and we bounce back and forth between topics, but we all liked this group poem idea.
Edge: What other activities are you involved in?
Mack: I like doing creative things, especially drawing comics. I often draw pictures of the things people talk about in their poems.
Natalia: I’m in orchestra and have been swimming competitively for 11 years. I’d like to either go into computer programming or be an author—both have to figure out creative ways to solve problems.
Antonia: I’ve been in drama club, book club, and a student ambassador. Someday I’d like to go into interior design.
Mack: My grandpa said I should be a politician because I like to talk. I would like to speak for a living and am interested in being an activist of some type. In this club we can talk about our opinions freely. Even if it contradicts someone else’s beliefs, at least we can understand each other.