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The Point is the Poetry

Hampshire student Adam Gottlieb 08F is featured in a documentary on youth slam poetry screening at the Woods Hole Film Festival in Cape Cod on August 2 and 7.

“The youth poetry community doesn't tell students to shut up and listen. It says, ‘We'll listen. You tell us something. Tell us your story,’” says Gottlieb.

Adam Gottlieb
Gottlieb spoke, and was heard, making a name for himself in high school as a talented poet and performer in Chicago’s youth slam poetry community.

His talent got the attention of filmmakers Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel. Gottlieb is one of the people featured in their new documentary, Louder than a Bomb. The film follows a handful of high school students as they prepare for and compete at Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival (LTAB) in spring 2008.

Poet Kevin Coval co-founded LTAB in 2001 to support self-expression in teenagers across racial and socio-economic divides. Held annually every March, it has grown into the largest youth slam competition in the country. Teams of poets perform, both in groups and individually, and are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 points. The team with the highest score wins.

Gottlieb, who was a high school senior during filming of the documentary, discovered LTAB as a freshman. He says the festival motto is “the point is not the points, the point is the poetry. We are here because we want to learn about each other, not because we want to beat each other.”

“Adam is the most exotic character in any documentary film you’ll ever see because he’s so normal and well adjusted,” says Jacobs. “He’s an incredibly warm-hearted individual, very smart and creative and humble—he has confidence in his own creative abilities but he seems to make everybody else feel good as well.”

For Gottlieb, poetry is about communication and connecting with others. Slam, he says, is just the venue to bring people together, but it’s not as important as the poetry itself.

“I try to think of it in terms of finding the right word, not just the word that my heart or soul would use, but also the word that would meet someone else’s mind halfway. That’s what this medium of language is for: so we can meet each other halfway,” Gottlieb says.

The film is an official selection of the DocuWeeks Theatrical Documentary Showcase, and is screening at the IFC Center in New York City from July 30–August 5 and at the ArcLight in Los Angeles from August 6–12.

Watch a clip of the film >>
Read some of Gottlieb’s poems >>

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