Tulsa Teens Find Expression In Poetry Slam

It's "Louder Than A Bomb," and it's happening in Tulsa on Friday. Teens will read their poetry for three minutes at a time in a Tulsa poetry slam.

Thursday, April 7th 2011, 6:01 pm

By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Some Tulsa teenagers are competing for a title tomorrow night. It isn't a sports competition, but a war of words.

It's called a poetry slam. There's no contact, but these young poets do hope what they say will touch you.

"Oh sweet but scary is the 918; there's sweet laughter in the park but scary tragedy in the streets."

"Giant sand colored titan with the city in your eyes standing over expo. They call us the buckle but the belt doesn't fit these couple states."

"I love you because you're my mother. Because you love us unconditionally, even if all we want to do is get out."

Those secret thoughts kept silent - in this room - they're louder than a bomb.

"I think when you're a young person you sometimes feel like the world isn't really listening to you. And this is a space where for three minutes at a time, you have the attention of your peers, sometimes your teachers," said Kevin Coval.

Author Kevin Coval is the co-founder of Chicago's "Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Slam Festival."

He's helping train these burgeoning, young wordsmiths for Tulsa's own version of the event.

"Really just an excuse to make poetry, which I think is always interesting, a little more interesting, a little more competitive," Coval said.

"Americans like sports. So we kinda have made poetry a sport."

Dozens of Tulsa teenagers will perform their original work before a live audience. 

"I think it's an amazing experience and really empowering," said Nate Marshall, poet with Louder Than A Bomb. "And really trains you to be a critically engaged citizen."

Neisha Whitaker: "A persimmon may drop, but I am blossom and I feel a gust coming on."

Chris Brown: "This is why I always save my breath, so someone important can hear my voice."

In just 15 minutes, these students tapped into their voices and surprised themselves.

"I think it's cool that we did that cool 15 minute little writing session and see what everybody could cook up in that amount of time.," said Chris Brown, a senior at Edison High School.

"It was pretty nice, cause there was a lot of good material that came out in 15 minutes."

"This does show them that we are way better than what everybody thinks, especially when we're allowed to express ourselves," said Central senior Neisha Whitaker.

"Maybe that's all we need to be able to have a voice."

These are some impressive young people.

The poetry slam is at 6 p.m. Friday at OU-Tulsa Schusterman Center.


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