‘Louder Than a Bomb’ Florida Poetry Finals This Weekend

“If it wasn’t for poetry, I’d be in a cemetery.”

Those are the words of William Gordon, one of the poets for the Viking Freedom Writers of Miami Norland High School.

Gordon and hundreds of other South Florida high school students have again been given a platform for their poems thanks to an unlikely source – NFL Hall of Famer and Miami Dolphins legend Jason Taylor.

Taylor and his philanthropic Foundation partner with actor Omari Hardwick and his bluapple Poetry Network to sponsor Louder Than a Bomb Florida, a 13-day festival that celebrates spoken word.

In its 3rd year, LTABFLA features poets from more than 60 area schools in 4 counties and is the culmination of a year-long scholastic program.

After preliminary and semifinal rounds last week, the festival reaches its pinnacle this weekend with the Individual Finals Friday night and the Team Finals Saturday, both hosted by Nova Southeastern University.

Twelve poet finalists compete at the Don Taft Auditorium starting at 7 PM Friday, scored by five judges. Four high schools – Boca Raton, Miami Norland, Miramar & Flanagan – vie for the Team title Saturday night from 6 to 9 pm at the Epstein Center for the Arts.

NBC6 is a proud co-sponsor of the festival and will livestream both final competitions on our NBC6.com website.

NBC6 will also document the festival for a third consecutive year with a 30-minute special in May as part of our Emmy-Award-Winning LTABFLA series.

The concept for Louder Than a Bomb originated in Chicago and was brought to South Florida in 2012. Hardwick, star of the STARZ series “Power,” is a poet himself and teamed up with Taylor to shine a light on spoken word in the format of a friendly poetry “slam.”

The poems are often raw, empowering, emotional and inspiring and cover any and all topics ranging from social justice to domestic abuse, the political climate, relationships and the joys and challenges of life.

Gordon, who graduated from Norland last year, now performs spoken word for the Florida Freedom Writers of Barry University. He competed in last year’s LTABFLA and credits poetry for lifting him off of a dangerous path on the streets of Miami Gardens.

He is not a unique case.

“Each and every day we see examples of the transformational effect our bluapple Poetry Network is having on young people,” Taylor says. “The collective voice of these brave poets is empowering students and schools, strengthening communities and changing lives.”