Six Questions With Louder Than a Bomb Coach Caroline Ewing


Maxie Crimm

Louder than a Bomb members Anton Caruso and Tara Phillips practice a duet poem during an after school practice.

Amelia Holcomb, Editor-In-Chief

After introducing the Louder than a Bomb (LTAB) competition to South’s poets three years ago, English teacher Caroline Ewing has watched the program grow. This year’s team took first place in their first bout of the competition, and will compete in semi-finals tonight, Wednesday, March 29. The team needs to score in the top two in semi-finals to proceed to the final KC Metro area competition.


Q: What is your job as the sponsor of LTAB?
A: I help facilitate meeting times. And then, I give a lot of my opinions on what I think we should write. I usually pick the set list for each competition, like who goes first, who goes second, who goes third. You know, it’s a very calculated decision. I help them with the structure of their poems. And probably the biggest thing that I individually help them on is their performance. I don’t know if you’ve seen our duet, but it’s really theatrical. There was one practice that was a three hour practice and we went in and put all of our motions in and tested out what looked good, what looked awkward. It’s a process, but I consider that my job, to coach performance.
Q: Do you use your background in English to facilitate that? What do you draw from for the performance aspect?
A: I don’t know. I don’t know where… You know I have a little bit of an eye for it, and I don’t want to sound not humble, but if there was any way to make money in that sort of thing, you know there is no professional poetry coach out there, you know spoken word exactly… If there was I would probably look into it just because it’s something that comes a little bit natural for me. I perform in the Kansas City circuit myself, and I’ve seen a lot. I base it off of that experience. It’s a really stress free, creative outlet for me, it just comes kind of natural. I don’t
know why.
Q: From your perspective, how did the team perform at their first competition of the season?
A: They got first, I was really… I had a lot of people come up after the show and tell me how prepared and impressed that they were. And then we were just hitting our cues… Having a two point difference from first and second is a pretty significant win. Like, I thought that team was on a completely different level than any of the competitors. They really put in a lot of work and they were ready to go. They did not want to go home early. Our goal was to make it to the finals for the third year in a row.
Q: How has it been for you to start developing this program at South and see it grow to this level now?
A: You know, it’s really rewarding. I mean it’s just kind of you take something that doesn’t exist and you make it into something that people… It’s a really unique outlet for kids that maybe aren’t athletic or aren’t actors and actresses. I mean, it’s just a whole other way to get kids competing and connecting and having an opportunity to represent their school.  So the more kids that are involved, then more kids that are invested, and the more kids that just are interested in poetry… I mean I’m really proud of what me and the students that have been involved and graduated and the students that are still here and they’re invested… I’ve been really, really proud of what we’ve been able to create.
Q: When did you start this?
A: I took over the poetry slam, the school-wide competition, four years ago, my second year at South. And then we entered in the Louder than a Bomb competition the next year. Anndreah Norton, I don’t know if you remember her,  one day in class, kind of changed everything when she got up and performed her really big solo. And then Emily [Wilkinson] carried us last year and we had Adric [Tenuta] on board. That very first team we had with Anndreah, Jordan [Winters] and Rola [Alasmar] and Emily Wilkinson, I don’t know if we even knew how lucky we were. We were extremely talented from the start. They were able to start the program off at a high level that we’ve just been able to build from, and it’s been really cool. They have left a huge legacy here at South that they don’t even maybe realize that they’ve left. And then it’s fun because these kids are done with Louder than a Bomb usually and then they can go and perform in the poetry slam with everyone. We have people already trying to sign up for that. It will be a great event in April to kind of close us out this year.
Q: Is there anything that you think the team can improve on for the next competition?
A: We’re re-writing. We are not sending the same set list up. We’re working on a new trio, a new collab poem… I think we’re gonna save our really popular duet for finals, hoping that we make it.  But that’s gonna be an in-competition decision. If we’re behind, we’re gonna have to use the duet. But we want to use a new solo piece and a new trio piece in our semi bout. Just because to show that we have other… we’re not just four poems deep, we’re like seven to eight poems deep, which is more than we’ve ever done. And I think this team works harder… we have extremely talented writers this year but this year we have hard workers and I think their performance skills are really strong. So, I think before the next competition we need to focus in on the new poem and make it a home run. Cause that way, that’ll help us in the finals. We’d like to take top three in finals is kind of our goal. As we have in the last couple years. But they opened up the field to six finalists, so finishing in the top three would be our goal, definitely. Obviously our number one goal is to go to nationals, but we face some insane competition at finals usually.
The Louder Than a Bomb team of Anton Caruso, Jenica Kolbeck, Tara Phillips, Cinthia Romor, Miah Clark and Abigail Hindle will perform in the semi-finals tonight at 6p.m. at the Gem Theatre in the 18th and Vine District in KC, Mo.