By Lexxi Swanson
Senior Tiauna Lewis from Lincoln High School won the individual Slam Poetry championship in this year’s Louder than a Bomb competition. “I was blessed to have such an inclusive and caring community to perform with,” Lewis said, “ I had really tough competition and that is why I am so honored to have won. Now I get to perform at MAHA Music Festival in Omaha and I’ve been asked to perform at the Speech Tournament of Champions as well as radio shows, schools, coffee shops, and other festivals around Lincoln and Omaha. I just can’t believe how lucky I am so have such wonderful opportunities because of my poetry.” The individual finals took place on May 2nd at the UNL Student Union Colonial Room. The Lincoln High Slam Poetry team worked hard this year in Louder than a Bomb preparations. The team made it to the finals in the state slam poetry competition for the fourth time since 2012. Lincoln High got 4th place in the final round. Lewis became the Individual State Champion. It was a close round for the team finals, with the difference in points being a sixth of a point between 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. The team that won 1st place was Lincoln North Star, which brought the title back to the city of Lincoln.
Louder than a Bomb is the competition held for slam poetry. This competition was originally founded by Young Chicago Authors in 2001. Currently over 60 schools in Chicago, where it all started, participate in this friendly competition. Louder than a Bomb branched into Nebraska in 2012, where Lincoln High was one of about a dozen schools that competed in it. Since it exteneded to Nebraska four years ago, it has grown in size. This year over 30 schools competed for the title of first place. The winning team got to take home a trophy filled with real poptarts. The Lincoln High team prepared for Louder than a Bomb through many practices after school. The slam poets also spent time at home writing and revising their pieces with the help of student editors.
Several professional poets also came in to give the team tips throughout and before the competition began. “Our practices had not been awesome, so I didn’t know what to expect. These kids are so incredibly gifted on the page and equally on the stage. When we started going to bouts, they just came alive,” McGinn said. The team finals were Monday, April 20, at the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha.
The four teams competeing were Skutt Catholic, Millard South, Lincoln North Star, and Lincoln High. Tiauna Lewis read a poem titled, “Mountain Top,” Camille Harrah wrote “Stop Yelling,” Emma Craig performed, “Weigh to Go,” and Jack Buchanan wrote a poem called, “Mother.” The four-group piece was named, “Life in Technicolor With a German Folk Song,” with Karina Hinkley, Lewis, Buchanan, and Craig. On Friday, April 17th there was a send off for the Slam Poetry Team and Community. It took place during 8th period in the Ted Sorensen Theater at Lincoln High. This assembly was open to any teacher to take their class if they had the time.
“I was counting on this to be our dress rehearsal before the actual performance,” McGinn said. “I am so thrilled that they are allowing us to have a send-off. We’re not a sport. We’re a group that has achieved a level of greatness, and I’m so grateful that they’re acknowledging these kids.” The team used that as a chance to practice their pieces in front of a live crowd. The following poems and the ones listed above in the finals were practiced in front of the Lincoln High Student and Staff crowd: Buchanan with “Wu-Tang,”, Lewis with “Us Kids”, Sophomore Melissa Bornstein with “Teachers”, Freshmen Hinkley and Callie McCright with “Reality Zoned”, Craig, Lewis, Harrah, and Bornstein with “Micro- Aggressions”, and Hinkley with “Captain America”.
The semifinals took place on April 7th at the Durham Museum in Omaha. The other set of semifinals were at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha on the 8th of April. Lincoln High’s were at the Durham Museum against Gretna, Marian, and Omaha South at 7:30 p.m. after school on that Tuesday, April 7th. At these bouts Harrah, Buchanan, and Craig performed pieces by themselves. A duet poem was performed by two Hinkley and McCright. The four person group poem was performed by Lewis and Craig, Bornstein, and Harrah. In room 366 at Lincoln High, McGinn sells snacks for $1 to fund the Slam Poetry team. The team doesn’t receive any funding from the Lincoln Public Schools District or Lincoln High.
These snacks are the main way the team gets funding for busses to bouts and other necessities. The Slam team also sometimes gets donations from businesses around Lincoln. The snacks are still being sold, though the finals have already passed. The money raised after the finals will go to the funding of next year’s team.