WordFest 2013, Day 4, April 17

This night’s piece of WordFest 2013 was a free screening of the 2011 film Louder than a Bomb at The Linda on Central Ave. This is from the press release for the film:

Louder than a Bomb is a film about passion, competition, teamwork, and trust. It’s about the joy of being young, and the pain of growing up. It’s about speaking out, making noise, and finding your voice.

“It also just happens to be about poetry.

“Every year, more than six hundred teenagers from over sixty Chicago area schools gather for the world’s largest youth poetry slam, a competition known as “Louder Than a Bomb”. Founded in 2001, Louder Than a Bomb is the only event of its kind in the country—a youth poetry slam built from the beginning around teams. Rather than emphasize individual poets and performances, the structure of Louder Than a Bomb demands that kids work collaboratively with their peers, presenting, critiquing, and rewriting their pieces. To succeed, teams have to create an environment of mutual trust and support. For many kids, being a part of such an environment—in an academic context—is life-changing.

Louder than a Bomb chronicles the stereotype-confounding stories of four teams as they prepare for and compete in the 2008 event. By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, the film captures the tempestuous lives of these unforgettable kids, exploring the ways writing shapes their world, and vice versa. This is not “high school poetry” as we often think of it. This is language as a joyful release, irrepressibly talented teenagers obsessed with making words dance. How and why they do it—and the community they create along the way—is the story at the heart of this inspiring film.”

What I found fascinating was how much this film that “just happens to be about poetry” was more like a sports bio-documentary, which explains why it was once shown on the MSG network. In other words, it was about poetry as a sport, not as an art. While the phrase “the point is not the points it’s the poetry” is repeated almost too much, the point of the film was the points, about how you win, ultimately about how .1 is the difference between winning & not winning. And that’s indeed what Slam is all about — the recitin’ not the writin’.  But as someone did say in Louder than a Bomb, “the world is bigger than a poetry slam.” Indeed it is.