Jamila Woods Credit: LAWRENCE AGYEI

Louder Than a Bomb and Young Chicago Authors alum Jamila Woods returns to the LTAB Festival to perform during halftime of the slam poetry finals on Saturday, March 21 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. This year marks the fest’s 20th year of supporting young spoken word artists—Chance the Rapper is another successful alum—and the anniversary events are inspired by Muhammad Ali’s 1975 poem “Me. We.”

“Each year we set a mantra that carries us into the fest and lives on to become a prompt for many of the poems,” says Young Chicago Authors Operations Manager Nicole Humphrey. “We take the ‘me’ to represent the individual investment, contribution, and experience, the singular and unique voice. Ali referred to the ‘heart quality’ and ‘loving manner’ in which we make room for individual stories, with the notion that nothing is greater than the collective voice, the ‘we.’ It is only when we uplift both that we begin to chip away at the barriers that keep us apart, making our communities more just and equitable.”

There are free events all month long to celebrate two decades of the fest, including an open mic celebrating Latinx artists on Saturday, March 7 at Young Chicago Authors; a panel discussion about the impact of Louder Than a Bomb moderated by avery r young on Sunday, March 22 at Stony Island Arts Bank; an evening copresented by the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) featuring Muslim artists on Thursday, March 26 at IMAN; and Louder Than a Prom, an alternative prom for Chicago students aged 13–19 on Saturday, April 4 at Ace Hotel.

For tickets and information, visit youngchicagoauthors.org/louder-than-a-bomb.   v