Louder Than a Bomb


Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Paul Robeson High School. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

I am a senior at Paul Robeson’s High School, and I am a member in Robeson’s poetry group started by Ms. Twine the poetry coach we call Endless Words.   I joined the group Endless Words January 30, 2014 and we talked about upcoming events. But in order to be a part of the event you had to recite a poem to the poetry coach Ms. Twine. Ms. Twine needed to hear a recited poem because one of the events was scheduled three days after the practice day. So we only had a day to write the poem and one day to practice the poem, which she wanted us to memorize. The event was called “Louder than a Bomb”.

Louder than a Bomb was held at Columbia College in Chicago at 2 p.m. It was a small auditorium and our group, Endless Words, was competing against other schools like Simeon and Harper. There was a DJ playing music and then a speaker came up to tell us some rule. Points were taken off for profanity but the space is supposed to be like your living room, so we were encouraged to be comfortable, but to please respect the microphone. A member from each competing group had to come up and pull a card with an alphabet on them to determine the speaking order. Our group was second to speak. I was last to go out of our group and it was very nerve-wracking. I walked upon the stage and looked at the judges, and then I noticed every pair of eyes in the room was on me. My heart dropped while there was total silence. I tapped to check the microphone; I took a deep breath and spoke.

Hello! My name is whatever I tell you. Cause I have many names, so whatever name I give you stick to that don’t call me anything else. Even if you hear someone call me someone else that not my name, stick to whatever I told you.  At home it started off as; what a handsome baby to, Sean-Sean, then Stephon, and when I really hit a nerve it was Deshawn!! What did I do now? But now it’s just one Sean. This how I know if I knew you for a while. I label you by my name, not yours, so stick to whatever I tell you.  In school you know me by three names, Austin, Stephon, or Sean. If you call me by Austin or Mr. Austin, you’re either a teacher or someone who learned my last name off the class attendance. Or someone who can’t pronounce my first name right, which by the way is Stephon. But Austin is the school boy trying to make it to college; he focuses mainly on school and his future goals. Stephon is a funny student in school with a huge cursing problem, but can be very helpful when need. But if you can say my name right then you’re probably a person I talk to or always cracking jokes with, but we`re a little cool just not my group. I’d probably ask for some of your candy, and if you ask me for something I’ll say “What you got your hand out for? So what you shared, I didn’t force you to give me anything, bye!!” But my close friends call me by Sean, these are the people I sit down with and have deep conversations with. These are my roll dogs, my homies, bros, the guys, and of course my best friend. Sean is a person who can hold secrets forever, because he has short memory.  If you ask him what happened to him at least ten minutes ago, he`ll be stuck with a serious face like I don’t know. He calls it (CRN) Can’t Remember Nothing. But stick to whatever I tell you because you could know me, and call me another name, now I’m stuck trying to think, what did I tell you?


The judges scored my poem 9.0, 9.3, and 9.8. It was something I would recommend other students to try. I believe it changed the way I look at the world because a lot of the poets spoke from the heart and nailed it.

Brian McNeil is a sophomore at Paul Robeson High School. He 16 years-old and he is a supporter of the poetry group Endless Words. “I heard about Louder than a Bomb from my girlfriend who is one of the poets in Endless Words.” He is friends with everyone in the poetry group, even me, and he enjoyed going to the events and watching his fellow classmates kill it. Being a part of the audience, he really enjoyed saying “Listen to the Poem.” After the judges have judged a poem, “Listen to the Poem” is the phase when the audience gets to register their opinion if the poem deserves more points.

Charles Caples is a senior at Paul Robeson High School. He is 18 years old and a supporter of the poetry group Endless Words. “I heard about Louder than a Bomb from my home dog Tyler Pepper who is one of the poets in Endless Words. I`ve been to only one of the Louder that a Bomb events and I believe the students from my school rocked the mike and the event was gangsta.”

He was also a part of the audience when they yelled “Listen to the Poem.” He believed that the poems were really good so he couldn’t chose a favorite one.

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