Poetry team slams to Louder Than A Bomb semifinals

18 Jones students perform on Metro Stage

Performing poems about 21st century issues, Jones students took to the stage at Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB), the city’s most prominent youth poetry slam. Despite all attending the same school, the students do not all represent the same teams.

After participating and capturing first place in two preliminary rounds (called “bouts”), the official JCP team proceeded to the quarterfinals at Malcolm X College, where they placed second and qualified for the semifinals, held at the Metro Theater on March 12. The team did not qualify for the finals, but are satisfied with their progress thus far.

“Although we may have gotten fourth, the bout was definitely a close one,” said team member Jose Salgado ‘18, who performed an individual poem about prejudice and discrimination against Mexicans in the United States. “I think that every piece we sent up to perform was strong in the context of its structure and performance.”

The official JCP team frequently competes against community organizations Rebirth Poetry Ensemble, Good Eddy, and YouMedia, which also feature Jones poets. Rebirth qualified for the finals, which will occur on March 18.

“I think for me, performing this Sunday [at the semifinals] felt natural,” said Rebirth poet Onam Lansana ‘17. “Luckily, we had the opportunity to honor the stories that we were writing about and we had the opportunity to present our poems to the best of our abilities. The numbers fell in our favor and we’re going to finals on Saturday.”

A common theme of LTAB is its focus on the content that the poets perform, rather than the actual competition.

“The points are not the point, the point is the poetry,” said Salgado, reciting a common LTAB chant. “Even in competition, [I] feel proud to be a part of our team. [The] mindset of just enjoying other people’s poetry rather than worry about winning is what LTAB is about and it makes me feel good continuing tradition.”

Grace Adee ‘18, the Jones team’s co-captain, agrees with Salgado.

“When the bouts get really competitive, people start to forget why we’re all there. All of us at LTAB have heard a fantastic piece and thought- oh shoot, that was great, now our ranking is in jeopardy. And that’s a terrible way to see things. The truth is, the points really do not matter,” said Adee.

However, some teams find value in the points as well.

“This year, we’re competing against three other absolutely amazing teams, and we are going to do our work this week to do our best,” said Lansana. “[During the finals], the numbers are going to fall where they fall. The team that the judges like the best will win.”

Rebirth performed in the finals on March 18 at the Auditorium Theater, where they placed third.