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YCA’s Louder Than A Bomb Contestants Share Poetry In Advance of Appearance at Pitchfork Music Festival

Written by on July 12, 2019


Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) is the largest youth poetry festival in the world.

LTAB is an annual event hosting over 1,000 youth poets for a month of Olympic-style poetry bouts, workshops, and special events. Students representing schools and community groups in the Chicago area perform original solo and group poems in a tournament-style competition.

Fifteen poets from YCA’s Louder Than A Bomb will perform poems in between sets at the Pitchfork Music Festival Blue Stage next weekend.

To prepare you, we’ve included a few poems from LTAB 2019 winners this year… Tune into Vocalo’s Morning AMP every morning during Pitchfork week to hear all the poets read their pieces!


Jerome Kelly

Jerome Kelly is an 18 year-old from the Chatham neighborhood and goes by the stage name Jay Post. Jerome draws poetic inspiration from life experiences and other creative minds.

A Curse on You and Your White Hood 

I felt my heart hit my stomach when I seen your lights flash 

I prepared for invasion but didn’t imagine you leaving with a piece of me 

I guess you had , had your way

In defiling and detaining the faint of heart 

Made your peace and pulled off 

How do you apologize for making waste of body ? or four ?

For binding us heel to toe for being parked while black 

For patting down my 8 year old little sister 

Why’d you need 5 squad cars to investigate a family in mid size sedan ?

You made us The something in a town where nothing ever happens 

You cuffed a mother in front of her child 

You mirandized  me 

Turned the contents of my bag into curb decorations 

Then made a side road attraction of my family then call it a misunderstanding 

You say sorry 

But refer to me as suspect in the same breathe 

Your sorry is a bandaid to  a tarantino scene 

Your thank you for being so cool 

A blow to the chest for the  boys in the back of the patty wagon 

How can I fill this anger with your sorry ?

This shame with “ you’re free to go”  

I Felt the phantom pains from the cuffs for a week after that 

And now I see you in every cruiser that passes me 

Wonder would you think twice if you saw me again 

If this PTSD things works both ways 

I Find every tight space resembles you 

And I have this recurring dream where my sheets turn in to constraints and I feel you purging my body of its sin 

Do you even remember? 

Or is this routine to you ?

You saw nigga before family

You Cuff before questioning 

I don’t want justice no

I’ve seen to many bodies slip through the cracks 

Seen you get paid leave for earthing another body another boy 

So no not justice 

I want you bloody mouthed with your tongue in palms 

I want every name you replaced with boy to sneak up your throat and sit like acid 

Do you taste it ? 

I pray every person ever detained for existing while black to congregate under your eyelids 

So you can’t even seek safety behind them

And everytime you close them you see them lurking through the darkness and they hungry 

And You pig are feast 

My great grandmother used to say

To hate something is to take its foul name and incinerate in the trenches of your gums 

So When I say a want the man who cuffed my mother to burn 

It is to say I want his privilege to become tar stuck to his bones

It is to say I want his badge to jump off him chest and show him the wrong side of it 

I need you to know my sister seen you cuff me 

So it’s only fair your family attend too

And when the mob comes for you they are watching 

And then you’ll finally know what it is to fear for your life for real this time 

This time no privilege No metaphor nothing but black

And may you drown in it .


Ari Appleberry

Ari Appleberry is a 19 year-old from the Bronzeville area. Ari draws poetic inspiration from Black culture and the resilience of others.

Big Dyke Energy 


origin “bullydyking” or “bullydyker”

Claude Mckay’s 1928 “Home to Harlem”

was it’s 1st time in print.

“what we calls a bullydyker in Harlem… i don’t understan’… a bullydyking woman”

always been just a dyke

when i was born? baby dyke

as a kid? dyke in training

as an adult? prime dyke

& when i’m dead i’ll be dusty dyke

hopefully legend dyke

i’m so dyke the dutch accidentally invented me

had to reinvent the dyke when they realized i don’t stop floods, but start them

so dyke that i conjured the word “lesbian” when i got tongue tied saying “let’s lick labias in libya”

so dyke i love LeBron

was LeBron on my middle school AAU team

so dyke i was on a middle school AAU team

lost my dyke once

labeled it “androgynous”

which is just a boogie, hipster name for dyke

yt gays have made an art out of bleaching blk queer things & selling it back to us

some yt lesbian that looked like justin bieber, or ruby rose, or katy perry, or halsey

told me that we were one in the same

i looked at her & felt all the big dyke energy that came before me

felt sister Rosetta Tharp

felt Lorraine Hansberry

felt Angela Davis

& said “oh yt woman, you wish you had my energy. be glad you don’t. because your body

cannot furnace the burning of dykes that died due to dykeness & blkness & non cisness –

be glad. that you do not rot with us”


Kennedy Harris

Kennedy Harris is a 19 year-old from the South Shore neighborhood. Kennedy draws poetic inspiration from her creative community whether Young Chicago Authors or team members from Brooks.

imma sad bitch… by Kennedy Harris

As in i be sad asf. Sad as in I have a finsta to post shit when im sad. As in i was tired of

posting and deleting sad. still do. Wish i had someone to vent to but wont go see a

therapist sad. As in I went to therapy once, and at the end i was still sad. So i wrote a

poem, but at the end i was still sad. So i wrote a suicide note, but at the end i was still sad.

So i went to sleep sad. woke up sad. Only thought about showering but didn’t. I reek of

last week’s sad. My mother doesn’t believe im sad. Think i just got attitude problems.

Think i get them from my biological mother and she wants me to give them back. Think a

bible would help. Sad, cause i don’t know what i would be if i wasn’t sad. Once, my

brother got a drunk and punched a hole in the wall right above me and my sisters head.

Everytime i think about it i get sad. Not because he almost hit me. But because he doesn’t

realize that he is also just sad. Later, I promised myself i would never drink while sad.

Sad, cause no one warned me that drunk texting aint got nothing on texting while sad. I

hit up my hoes sad. Im tryna get fucked sad. I tell shorty make me happy. She says she

can only make me cum. Which is lowkey sad asl… sometimes, me and my niggas get high

and laugh about how sad we are OR forget about how sad we are OR don’t bring up how

sad we are. We still sad tho. But it’s something about being sad with other sad folks.

Makes a bitch feel like she belongs sad. As in i wish i was better at replying sad. As in

ain’t nobody boutta deal with my ass sad. As in too black to be this sad. As in me and my

niggas are generationally sad. As in you have to be a certain type of strong to be this sad.

As in me and my niggas don’t believe in suicide sad. As in to be black and suicidal is to

already be gone… and aint that just sad?

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