• Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 18:30:50View | Delete

    Thanks, Lisa! I really enjoyed the conversation, and we’ll definitely let you know when the next project is in the works…

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 18:29:50View | Delete

    We are still going to screenings all over the place, as are the kids. In fact, just about a week ago, I was at a screening with Nate down at the University of Chicago. One of the most fun parts of this has been giving the kids the opportunity to travel all over the country to attend festivals and screenings – experiences they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Needless to say, audiences love them, and they always end the Q&A session with a performance, which is great.

    If anyone out there is interested in hosting a screening, feel free to get in touch with us at ltab@siskeljacobs.com and we’ll help you work out the details.

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 18:21:41View | Delete

    We’ve got a lot of ideas, but nothing we’re committed to yet – we’re waiting for the next accident to inspire us!

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 18:19:44View | Delete

    Back in 2009-2010, Oprah’s new network, OWN, teamed up with a great independent film company, ro•co films, to curate what was called the OWN Documentary Club. Once the network launched, they premiered a new documentary a month for about year under the Doc Club banner. The host of the series was Rosie O’Donnell, who it turns out is a huge doc fan. She really fell in love with LTAB (and Adam Gottlieb in particular!)…So it was the combination of Oprah, the folks at ro•co, and Rosie who threw their support behind the film and decided to air it.

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 18:11:19View | Delete

    You can find most of the poems from the film, as well as new work from Lamar, Nate, & Nova, deleted scenes, etc. at our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/siskeljacobs

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 18:09:14View | Delete

    Well, we also do TV documentaries for networks like National Geographic, History, etc., so that’s what we’ve been focused on lately. We’re also still trying to spread the word about Louder Than a Bomb, so that is still an active part of our work – my ultimate goal is to get a National Poetry Month screening of the film at the White House, so if anyone here can help us make that happen, let me know!

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 18:05:02View | Delete

    Oh, and yes, the kids in the competition definitely know about the film, and the poems of Nate, Nova, Lamar, etc. are like texts for them to study from…It’s also how Nate, Lamar, and Nova boost their Facebook friend totals – whenever there’s a screening, they suddenly get a surge of FB requests & Twitter followers from kids in that city…

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 18:02:23View | Delete

    It’s been incredible for us to see the effect the film has had…We just set out to make an entertaining movie, so the fact that it has had such a concrete impact is a constant source of surprise and joy for us. First, there’s the effect it’s had on the growth of Chicago’s LTAB; then there are all the new LTABs springing up; and finally, there’s the educational DVD & curriculum, which is being shown in schools around the world. But for us, maybe the most inspiring thing has been that the response from teenagers, teachers, and adults who have nothing to do with poetry or education has been equally emotional – the film just seems to connect with people, which is amazing.

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 17:57:52View | Delete

    Definitely. In a way, the slam becomes a kind of poetry gateway drug. A student might come to it because he or she loves rap and already writes rhymes. So the pedagogy of LTAB gets them talking about the artists they like – Tupac, say, or Lupe Fiasco – and also about their own lives. As the act of writing takes hold, the kids start discovering other influences outside that initial circle. So maybe they find Langston Hughes, or Ginsberg, or Patricia Smith, and it goes from there. And the Young Chicago Authors folks really stress craft. So there’s a certain degree of peer pressure that takes hold – you see other kids who are really focused on the form, and so you start to do the same. It doesn’t necessarily work for every kid, but when it does, it’s really powerful. In the film, Lamar is probably the most potent example of that…

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 17:51:28View | Delete

    And for any teachers or organizers out there who might be interested in launching an LTAB-type event in their communities, Young Chicago Authors – the organization that founded & runs Louder Than a Bomb – would love to help! They’re at youngchicagoauthors.org…

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 17:46:48View | Delete

    The programs are pretty much always after school (or, in the case of Nate’s team, before school). So it can be hard to keep kids motivated to come to practice. But once January rolls around, the rhythm of the LTAB season kicks in, and in most cases, the teams really buckle down and work incredibly hard.

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 17:44:08View | Delete

    It really varies from school to school. At a lot of schools, they hold tryouts. At others, teachers just try to grab students they think might benefit from it. Peter Kahn, Nova’s coach, always talks about “the turtle”: the kid in the hoodie who starts out standing outside the room as the team practices; then he comes in and stands against the wall; then he sits at a desk, with his head on the desk and the hoodie over it (hence the turtle)…the process keeps going until he’s eventually up in front of his peers, reading a poem. And inevitable, the turtle ends up being one of the stars of the team.

    My guess is that just about every LTAB coach has a turtle story…and that’s what keeps them doing it.

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 17:40:57View | Delete

    The number of teams competing in Chicago’s LTAB has more than doubled since the film, which is amazing – they now come from all over the city, the suburbs, and even Indiana. But the beauty of the event is that it’s impact stays the same. And as I mentioned, working with Young Chicago Authors, we’ve been able to seed LTAB-style events in cities all over the country, and we think LTAB is viable nternationally. It’s just an amazingly powerful, bottom-up way to flip the script on the standard educational model – bring the world into the classroom and, as Kevin Coval likes to say, say to the kids “okay…tell me where you’re from.”

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 17:38:27View | Delete

    Hi Kevin…Typically, the teachers are volunteering their time, and the schools put little or no resources into the teams. So the Steinmetz coaches, for example, were constantly buying food for the students, etc., out of their own pockets. There are a couple of schools that do have well-funded programs, most notably Nova’s school, Oak Park-River Forest. There, the spoken word program is about 70 people, and they have quarterly showcases that hundreds of kids attend. Peter Kahn, Nova’s coach, was the only full-time spoken word teacher in Illinois, maybe even the country. So he’s really the exception to the rule…

    It’s often hard for teachers to hold teams together, because there’s just so much going on in the kids’ lives – schoolwork, jobs, family problems, neighborhood violence, health/mental health issues – the list is endless. So the teachers who do manage to field teams and get them to the competition are really the heroes of this whole thing…

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 17:34:04View | Delete

    Absolutely. I mean, it affected the kids back in 07-08, when we were shooting the film. That year, I think more than 30 CPS students were killed, so the Steinmetz piece “Counting Graves” is really a distillation of the kind of stress that so many of these kids are under every day, and the impact violence has on their lives. So as the violence gets worse, and its grip tightens on certain neighborhoods in the city, the kids just naturally end up writing about it. One of the most powerful things about being at LTAB is hearing the tragic variety of ways violence impacts their lives. And one of the most powerful things about participating in LTAB is the chance to get your particular story off your chest, and tell the world…

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 17:29:31View | Delete

    That was just their entourage! The teams themselves consist of 4-8 poets. So there was a core group of Steinmenauts who competed, but then a whole bunch of kids who just liked hanging around and supporting them, whether they wrote or not. The kind of success they had can really start to change the culture at a school – it’s like a sports team, but located somewhere between school and hip-hop…

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 17:27:00View | Delete

    Our “kids” are all grown up. Nate graduated from Vanderbilt is getting his MFA in the creative writing program at the University of Michigan; Nova graduated from Smith and is getting ready to go to med school; Adam graduated from Hampshire and is teaching at an experimental high school in Chicago; Lamar is a teaching artist for Young Chicago Authors in Chicago; Jésus is teaching karate to special needs kids; and Kira, Kevin, and Big C are all pursuing creative projects. For the most part, so far so good!

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 17:24:33View | Delete

    Sure…It sounds way more complicated than it is, but here goes: Kids/teachers from schools all over the Chicagoland area form teams during the school year. They work together to create both individual pieces and a group piece featuring four poets. Then, starting in February, the teams all come together (this year there are 100 teams) for a three-week festival. There, each team competes in 4-team “bouts”…Each bout consists of 4 individual rounds, followed by the group piece round. The poems are judged on a scale of 1-10. Whichever team finishes with the most points, moves on, until there are four finalists. This year, the finals will be at the Cadillac Theater in Chicago, which seats around 2000, so you can tell how big a deal it has become in the city…

    But, as they all say, “the point is not the points, the point is the poetry” – so all that stuff about the rounds and the bouts is just an excuse to give kids a safe space to speak their minds and find their voices, and to bring all corners of the city together to listen to their stories.

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 17:19:15View | Delete

    There are youth slams all over the country. In many cases, winning teams are assembled from different cities to compete at Brave New Voices, which is the national youth poetry slam, and an amazing event in its own right. One of the great things about the film is that has helped Young Chicago Authors seed LTAB-style slams in cities all over the country. So the same transformative event is now also taking place in Tulsa, Omaha, Boston, D.C., Detroit, North Carolina, Michigan, Kansas City (next year), and soon internationally. It’s really become a movement…

  • Greg Jacobs commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Louder Than a Bomb

    2013-02-18 17:16:18View | Delete

    The Steinmetz kids were like big puppies – just so exuberant and excited to be there. And then they’d go onstage and just blow people away with the quality and energy of their work. So once they won, we knew we would have to follow them the next year. And in a way, it made for a more interesting story – it turned out to be not so much the standard story about kids writing their way out of poverty, and more about kids from tough circumstances coping with something that can be even more challenging: success.

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