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HomeENTERTAINMENTARTSMics up, Pens down: Celebrating Young Chicago Poets

Mics up, Pens down: Celebrating Young Chicago Poets

Rooted & Radical Youth Poetry Festival, formerly known as Louder Than a Bomb, provides a community-inspired platform for young poets to share their creative gifts. This festival focuses on empowerment, not competition, by creating a safe space for young writers to use their voices to celebrate each other’s talent. This yearly poetry festival is a program of Young Chicago Authors: a youth literary organization that has served thousands of young teens who are artistic, creative and unique storytellers since 1991.
Created by educator and creative writer Robert Boone or “Bob” as we call him, YCA was born because it needed to be. Bob saw how desperately Chicago youth needed a creative writing haven. You could always find sports, music and theatre programs in Chicago, but hardly anything for those children who like to spill their thoughts into Mead notebooks. He changed that when he opened Young Chicago Authors.
YCA gave so many young writers a chance to escape child abuse, homelessness, bullying and other toxic situations for hours on end. I know it saved me. I would not be alive if I did not have this program. Young Chicago Authors educated me on how to write distinctive styles of poetry, taught me about various poets and their writing styles, made me a published author, introduced me to photography and honored me with $2000 each year I was in college.
You would think it could not get any better at YCA, but in 2001, Louder than a Bomb was born. Created by two Chicago poets, Kevin Coval and Anna West, LTAB was all about the spoken word. Being a notebook poet is lovely, but being a performance poet is another high. LTAB started with just a small group of poets spitting their rhythmic compositions in a basement to eventually growing into over 100 teams being a part of the movement. These teams consist of hundreds of teens from high schools and community groups throughout Chicago, and they would compete in iconic locations like the Chicago Theatre for five weeks to make it to the finals.

Sometime last year, Young Chicago Authors renamed their epic competition, the Rooted & Radical Youth Poetry Festival. Rooted & Radical Youth Poetry Festival pushes community and fellowship to the forefront, and competition out the way. With April being National Poetry Month, it was fitting for the festival to kick off the first week of the month. Most of the R & R festival will be virtual, while the finals event will be in-person at the DuSable Museum of African American History. 

If you would like to support young Chicago poets, here is the schedule for the remainder of the competition: 

4/18 – 4/23 Week 3 – All-City Teams Prep Shop (open only to advancing poets).

4/30. Week 4 – All-Star Teams Finals + Awards Showcase (see below). 


Young Chicago Authors offers weekly writing workshops & open mic events! 

Check the method and hip-hop/rap-

Wordplay (the longest-running youth open mic in Chicago)-

YCA even has a three-week summer apprenticeship called, The Roots Crew for twelve young poets. For more information, click here

Keep up with Young Chicago Authors and their excellent young writers on social media!


Instagram: younghchicagoauthors

Twitter: YoungChiAuthors

Youtube channel: Young Chicago Authors


For more information on the program and other events not listed, visit

Obsession | Obsession is a romance and erotica author, blogger, photographer and artist from Chicago, IL.

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