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LTAB Indy Finals

Francisco Franco

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Louder than a Bomb, LTAB, is the biggest youth poetry festival in the world. LTAB hosts bouts at different venues and high schools in Chicago. Students from all over Chicago are apart of this festival.

On Sunday March 12th, two Phoenix Firebirds performed at Louder Than A Bomb’s individual semi-finals. Seniors Matthew Wilbourn and Sammy Ortega each performed an original poem.

Wilbourn joined the Phoenix poetry team as a sophomore.He did not know a lot of students on the team, but he joined for his love of poetry. Once he was on the team he realized the commitment required from him.

“Yesterday to be honest felt like my first time on stage. I was burning with nervousness, and could not help but feel heavy and weighted. It wasn’t the crowd. It was the waiting to go up. Waiting on my name to be called to perform a poem I know I’ve done at least 100 times, and thinking what if this is the time I mess up? They only get to hear your poem one time for 3 minutes. What if this the one time I mess up, or forget a line? What if they don’t fully understand my poem? What if I didn’t pronounce a word, or slur them together out of nervousness,” said Wilbourn.

Wilbourn was filled with anxiety, however, once he actually got on stage the tables turned.

“When I finally did go up though all of those thoughts faded. When the light hit my face and the crowd cheered like all of them knew me. I was comfortable. I don’t know why, but when I go up on any stage in front of people I can be anything I want and they adore me for it. That sense of wanting to know what I’m doing next is amazing. Hearing people react to something you put your soul into is like the best feeling ever. Knowing that you’re not just speaking for yourself , but for those who think the same and couldn’t vocalize it. Being that voice of the people. It’s a feeling I live for,” said Wilbourn.

One of Wilbourn’s competitors is his classmate Sammy Ortega, who competes with Kuumba Lynx.  Not only will Ortega be competing individually, but also with his team.  Ortega performed “Movement 101: The Is You Mad Edition” with his group after performing “Untitled” on his own.  Ortega will compete at Indy Finals, but also at Group Finals this Saturday March 18th at The Auditorium  Theatre at Roosevelt University.

Out of twelve semifinalists, Wilbourn and Ortega were able to move onto Indy Finals. Both will perform on Thursday March 16th from 6-9pm at The DuSable Museum of African American History.

As far as prep goes, I am turning it down. I am just happy to go to finals to be honest. The drive to win it all is kind of there, but I’m just glad to be the first poet in three years to finally go back to finals. I would like to do better than ones before me, but I’m just ready to go and do what I’ve always done. Have fun, change people, and touch lives with my art,” said Wilbourn.

Wilbourn writes poetry to spread a message, not for a score.

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LTAB Indy Finals