On Saturday, December 12, the W. Dale Clark Library hosted its 15th annual Teen Poetry Bash. Local youth were encouraged to bring two of their original poems to perform for a panel of judges from Louder Than a Bomb, a slam poetry organization in Omaha. Twenty one participants entered the competition, and cash prizes were awarded to the top three performers.
While listening to the teens share their work, I was moved by the depth of what they had to say. Patterns began to emerge considering topics such as adolescence, race and loss; themes on which we often forget the young have so much to say. Whether the students were rhyming humorously about their siblings or slamming about tough topics, they each had a voice and were given an audience to start a conversation.
The Teen Poetry Bash provided a meaningful opportunity for the entire community. The youth honed their writing and practiced public speaking skills. As audience members, we were given the chance to engage with the city’s high schoolers by showing up to support them and listening to what they had to say. I think that’s the point of a lot of poetry, the bridging of two different worldviews. If everyone leaves with new questions, new answers, and a better understanding of each other, then progress has been made.
Omaha Public Library would like to congratulate all of our participants, as well as the winners of the competition: Andy DiBernardo, who took home first place and $100, Jhevaun Grant, second place winner of $50, and Evangeline Mantler, who won $25.
Keep thinking, keep writing, keep sharing your voices at future OPL poetry events. The second Saturday of every month you can join the Nebraska Writers Collective’s Louder Than a Bomb coaches, as well as visiting artists, to learn from the experts. These workshops will prepare you to enter future Teen Poetry Bash competitions!