BB&N, Books of Hope youth poetry teams are promoted to semifinals by slam judges

Youth poets prepare to compete in early April at the Louder Than A Bomb poetry slam in Boston. (Photo: Christian Arthur)

Teen poets from Cambridge’s Buckingham Browne & Nichols private school have earned a top spot in preliminary rounds of the sixth annual Louder Than A Bomb Massachusetts Youth Poetry Slam Festival, competition officials said. Now the team will compete in a semifinal round and a chance to compete in the finals May 6.

Buckingham Browne & Nichols private school student Athena Chu recites her poem “My Chinese” in 2016.

More than 40 communities statewide sent teams of four to six young poets to compete April 8-9; the Buckingham Browne & Nichols team, with star poet Athena Chu, a junior who competed as an individual last year, was one of 16 to make it to the next round. A team from Somerville’s Books of Hope, a literacy program founded in 1999, also made it into the semifinals.

The 14 other institutions that will be competing include 826 Boston; Brookline High School; FreeVerse Lowell; the Institute of Contemporary Art – Boston; KIPP Academy Lynn; Urban Science Academy; Academy of the Pacific Rim; Westborough High School; Codman Academy; Burlington High School; Boston Collegiate Charter Academy; Quincy High School; Boston Pulse; and Springfield Central High School.

Semifinals are from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate. Four finalist teams will emerge for the final event, from 6 to 9 p.m. May 6 at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester. (There is also an individual finals event from 6 to 8 p.m. April 29 in Lipke Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts at Boston; the top four poets will travel to San Francisco for the Brave New Voices international slam July 19-22.)

“Our festival connects young people,” said Alex Charalambides, co-founder and managing director of the Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance Collective, which hosts the competition. “So many view poetry as a solitary act, but by providing the spaces for these young people to connect, they really listen to one another’s stories and recognize each other as peers, even if they come from entirely different backgrounds.”

Events are free, except for the $10 team finals. Tickets and information are here.


This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.

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