…Thank you LTAB…

Here’s to the poets, because without you guys this journey would have definitely been dull and pretty silly in hindsight. Thank you for sharing so much of your stories with us, we can’t help but feel honored to have had this opportunity with all of you. 


Here’s a note from each of us. Enjoy.

Eric Holt 

While it pains me to say I never got to participate in LTAB as a competing poet – having graduated high school the year before it began –, I’m absolutely thrilled to have experienced it from the sidelines as an intern, cameraman, judge, emcee, and heavy lifter of official LTAB merch boxes.

Attending literally every bout of the competition there was to attend had a strange effect on me – I felt as if, although I’d never spoken to most of the poets, I somehow knew them through their work. Several poets will forever stick out in my mind based on the poems they read. Here are a few of them: the group from Thomas Jefferson, for stirring up a fabulous school controversy with their poem criticizing the “meninist movement” – what brave, progressive souls they are!; Tiauna Lewis, for her timely truth bombs about racism today; Serenity Stokes, for making me tear up regardless of how many times I hear that poem about her dad; Macey Foard, for being such a smart, funny wordsmith; and the final group from Lincoln High, for ending team finals with a beautiful celebration of language diversity.

However, it was the last bout of indy finals that produced my favorite LTAB moment of all. Even after Tiauna Lewis placed first, neither Macey Foard nor Helen Winston gave off any hint of bitterness. Rather, there were hugs, applause, and smiles all around. Truly, the point wasn’t the points – the point was the poetry, after all. Yes, it’s a cheesy thing to say, but sometimes real life is cheesy. Cheesy and creative and utterly genuine.

Sarah Benal

Dear Poets,
It’s hard to begin something like this because there’s so much to say and no right way to say it. What can I say to you poets other than “thank you”? Thank you for letting me into your lives through your poems, thank you for trusting me, thank you for reminding me that people can be kind, supportive, and thoughtful. I feel like high schoolers are often underestimated, but you all have reminded me that you are only just beginning. That your intelligence extends far past the three minutes and ten seconds we see of you at the tournaments. That your joys, struggles, courage, doubts, and fears are no less real just because you are younger. Every single one of you are forces to be reckoned with, and I’m terrified and excited by all of you.
The other interns and I have had a blast (pun totally intended) listening to your poetry. We absorbed your energy, we excitedly cheered every time you took the stage. It’s been some of the most fun I’ve had. One of my favorite experiences was the first tournament at UNL. It was the first time I had ever hosted and the first slam bout I ever attended. I had no idea what I was doing, but you laughed at my jokes and blew me away with your cheers (I’m looking at you Lincoln High, and your pom poms).
The interns and I love you. We were surprised how much we cared for all of you so quickly (Sam gives you guys 8s just for showing up. He’s so impressed). I hope that you all keep writing. I hope you all keep performing. I hope you live your lives like you write your poetry: with strength, grace, and bravery.

And to the Interns,

I’ll miss you guys. It’s not fair that this has to end. Thanks for being worse dancers than me. We got lucky together. I’ll be listening for your YAAASSS.

Kirby Thornton

This internship has been a really awesome and amazing experience, and I’m glad I was able to be a part of it. NWC was an incredible organization to be affiliated with, and Louder Than a Bomb was even better. The best part of Ltab as an intern was being able to witness all the incredibly talented young poet perform their poetry at every bout. Whenever I would tell people I have this internship they always ask me, “What do you do? Or what is your internship?” Whenever I explain it to them they don’t seem very interested because it’s poetry and teenagers and all that doesn’t seem very entertaining and enjoyable. Actually and honestly, watching these young poets perform their poetry is some of the most enjoyable and entertaining things I would rather watch. Some of the topics and words they use to express their feelings is unbelievable and amazing to come out of a 15, 16, 17, or 18 year old person. I’m impressed, amazed, and even slightly jealous at times from the outstanding talent I was able to witness throughout the entire event. I also really enjoyed working alongside some amazing people affiliated with NWC and the entire Ltab event. Everyone such as Matt Mason, Stacey Waite, Nicholas Bell, Greg Harries, and Katie F. S. have been incredible people to work under and enjoy some fun times the entire time. They are all truly some outstanding people and it honestly is sad that the internship and event is over and we are no longer working together as closely as we did. Most importantly I enjoyed working alongside all the other interns; Eric, Sam, Sarah, Maddie, Katie, and Rachel. All these people were absolutely incredible and great to work with, and I’m glad I was able to meet some new friends. In the future, I truly recommend people to look into this internship and become a part of it anyway they can. It’s a great opportunity and one of the best times someone can have. If there are people that don’t or can’t be a part of the internship, they should definitely go watch future Ltab bouts and witness some of the incredible talent that I was able to witness. It’s amazing and honestly words are tough to truly describe

Katie Zeleski

To say Louder than a Bomb had an impact on my life would be to undermine said impact. Before being involved with this organization, I thought the slam poetry world in Nebraska was pretty much non existent, but, boy, was I wrong. I never knew such a gem had been hiding in plain sight the past 4 years.

These poets have made me cry, laugh, and burn with emotion with only their words. From that very first bout at UNL, I was hooked. I knew I had found something amazing. And it only got better. These poets poured their souls out for everyone listening and the amount of love given back from the audience was astounding. I just want these poets to know just how talented they are. They have the gift of being artists with their words, and that is something very few people can hold claim to.

My time as an intern has bestowed on me some of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Sarah: the quirky one who I will always be able to have the strangest conversations with. Rachel: the one with her life together and who is honestly one of the hardest working people I know. Maddie: the one who wears her emotions on her sleeve and always sees the brighter side of life. Eric: the closet comedian with a heart of gold. Sam: the walking contradiction (poetry and metal) with great taste in music. Kirby: Rocker Pixie Jesus who only speaks when it’s comedic gold.

This internship was a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so glad I got to share it with the people who did share it with me. Not to mention, it was led by the amazing Stacey Waite. I mean, come on. Could anyone be any cooler? (If you didn’t read that in a Chandler Bing voice then you need to reevaluate your life so far).

I just wanted to say thank you, for everything.

Rachel Kermmoade

Hey guys, I am not sure where to start honestly. I haven’t been a part of an organization that I feel so strongly about in a very long time, and I want to start by thanking you for that. It was the first time in a long time that I was doing something that really mattered to me and I could tell that it mattered for the world as well, and I can’t repay you enough for that. I am truly so impressed with each and every one of you fabulous people. The transparency and honesty in your poetry exceeded my expectations every single time. This is such a special community and I hope that you all realize the impact that you make on every person you perform for. That room could be filled with 12 people or 1200, the ripples that I saw started with this organization cannot be contained.

Your poetry is filled with life experiences and perspectives shockingly similar and drastically varying my own. The stories that you each shared were so brave, I could not believe the ages of you all. The emotional maturity and brutal honesty made it possible for me to start facing the same issues in my own writing, and for that I thank you.

You guys also unknowingly brought some pretty amazing and perfectly awkward people into my life. I mean, what do you expect when you get 7 English majors in one room? For that I thank you.

Our time with you all may be coming to a close, but you will have our support from here on out! This organization has a way of creeping into your life and sticking on for good. Much like all other great art.

You guys are all Hemingway, Shakespeare and Kant. Keep bringing beauty to the world, we could use it.


Sam Lee

There is a great deal to be said at the conclusion of this semester, and the conclusion of this year of Louder Than A Bomb. This tournament has allowed me to take part in something that I feel very passionate about, and has put me around people which have inspired me in a variety of ways. As I near the completion of my English degree, I have had the opportunity to put to use a lot of what I have learned about writing and poetry. I even found myself recalling things that I learned in High School regarding theater and performance.

Although Slam provided me with one of my earliest contexts for my own writing, in recent years I had not involved myself in the competitive and performance side of poetry. My focus had been the page for a long time, and in many ways is still a primary focus of my writing. However, watching the performances of so many great poets has an effect on you. It made me realize that even if the page poem is completely perfected, there is still a whole other aspect of poetry that we call “performance”. This, to me, even extends beyond the world of Slam. I don’t consider most of my work to be Slam material, but adding the consideration of performance, sound, and audience reaction into my writing has kept it from going stale.

I am not exaggerating when I say that this tournament has provided a very positive space for me to occupy during a very stressful time in my life (completing a degree, my first year being married to my amazing wife), and I have felt nothing but love in every room and on every stage I have had the pleasure to see.

On a more philosophical note, Louder Than A Bomb has also helped me address an issue that I have been considering for a while; that is, should art be competitive? I don’t believe that it is necessary for it to exist within the context of other artists and an audience, but I think it is far more exciting that way. It is difficult to reconcile the fact that we are reducing our own poetry into numerical scores, but I have yet to meet a poet who feels the scores are the overall objective for writing. Rather, it is about the community, the artists and the audiences, and being able to share a piece of your story and make your audience feel something. That is the objective, and in achieving that you are successful.

It is a little too depressing to end this as a “farewell” to this incredible year and this amazing group of people, so instead I’ll just say: see you next year.



I still can’t believe I got college credits for doing this.


Boy With Stage Fright

So you’ve got your final piece. It’s been through countless edits, been ripped apart and put back together. You know every gesture every vocal inflection. You feel yourself mouthing out your favorite lines in the middle of math class, smiling to yourself because you know this poem is brilliant.

And then it’s time to show everyone what you’ve got. You walk on stage and look at the crowd, take a deep breath and…

Fill in the blank.

Stage fright is scientifically the most common ailment stage performers must battle (not scientific, I’m totally guessing).

“It’s really hard,” says Bobbi from Lincoln High, “but it feels really good to get it out.”

Paul, also from Lincoln High, agrees. He says that writing poetry helps him get to the end of a problem. It’s all a part of the process. But writing and performing are two different things, and it can be difficult to face the audience and utter that first line of your poem. Something that’s good to remember, however, is that so many of the poets at LtaB feel the same way. It’s important to find that solidarity among each other and embrace it. It’s all a part of the awesome experience that is Louder Than a Bomb.

Tricia Hughes at Millard North wants everyone to remember that ultimately it’s one time in your life and that poetry is such a subjective activity that just because you might not win, doesn’t mean your poems aren’t good. “I think the community is just super positive,” she continues, “and if you want to be on LtaB and you want to do your poem, do it because you want to make friends.”

If there’s a common trend we LtaB interns have found, it’s that the poets in the LtaB community are some of the most supportive people. And if you fall, they’ll be willing to catch you and you’ll walk off the stage to deafening applause. Or maybe you’ll finish your poem without a single mistake, they’ll be there to congratulate you. But in the end, Tricia says, “if you ware nervous, don’t be afraid to ask for help.”


Irony. Like “hipster,” it’s one of those words that gets thrown around so much that it becomes hard to actually define. After all, if the word applies to as many situations as it supposedly does, then what does it really mean? Part of this confusion stems from there being multiple types of irony. Here are the two most common ones:

Verbal Irony: “It was so much fun writing three papers for class over spring break.” Most cool young people live and breathe this type of irony. It’s sarcastic, funny, and proves what it’s trying to say by saying the opposite.

Situational Irony: an activist protests poor factory working conditions while wearing jeans made in a Chinese sweatshop. This type of irony occurs when our expectations for how a situation will unfold are subverted. Do we expect the activist to be wearing sweatshop jeans? No, but it happens anyway. Such is life.

Irony, in its various forms, inspires laughter and tears alike. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more powerful literary device out there, so go wild with it!


Look past the pre-performance jitters, the ecstatic moment of achieving a perfect score, the thrill of competition, and the worry over placing at the next bout. On the surface it may seem like the biggest aspect to the LtaB bouts is the raging competition between poets, but it’s so much more than that.

Autumn Galloway from Northwest High School summed it up pretty perfectly, when asked what excites him most about competition he responded, “I’m eager to see what other poets have to share. To me, the competition isn’t important. Everyone would like to win, but I want to share my own story and hear others’.” This captures the true spirit of the LtaB slam poetry world. Sure, winning would be amazing, but enjoying the giant family of poets gathered together to share the one thing they have in common is what it’s truly all about.

There’s no getting around the sharp sting of disappointment when you see you didn’t score quite what you were hoping for, or keeping yourself from dancing a diddy when you finally got that ‘10’ you were hoping for all semester through your hard work. Those feelings are unavoidable and are expected-It is a competition. But they shouldn’t be your focus going into the bouts. Keeping the feeling of unity and support in the forefront of your mind throughout the event is what should keep you going. Everyone is there to share the beautiful pieces of themselves they have brought to the stage. That’s a big deal. It’s cliche to say but, everyone really is a winner because they have been primping and polishing and perfecting these pieces for a long time and its finally time to let everyone hear them and share in the emotion.

Later when asked about the appeal of performing slam poetry, Autumn gave another token of a response, “Performance poetry has such a great appeal. The raw emotion a performer portrays adds life to the piece.” Truer words have never been spoken. With each piece performed, the audience is taken on an emotional rollercoaster that gives them a glimpse into the life of someone they have most likely never met. And that’s the point, to write a piece for not only yourself, but for the teenager in the very back corner of the audience who might relate to that piece in some way. Not every piece is meant to be groundbreaking poetry, but every piece is meant to touch someone in some way.


Personification is using human qualities or actions to describe an object or animal. It can be just as useful as a talking dog or smiling sun. You can wander “lonely as a cloud” with Wordsworth or sit with Willard as “two sunflowers move in the yellow room.” You can be as daunting as the cold tearing its way down our lungs as we inhale frosty winter’s melancholy. You can dance with the rain as she sings her love song for the desolate roof. Personification has many identities and creates limitless characters in the world of poetry. Our advice to you: take advantage!