YCA Showcases Chi Poets At Rooted & Radical

Chicago’s talented youth recently took center stage during the Young Chicago Author’s Rooted & Radical Youth Poetry Festival (R&R) Showcase. / Photo: Christopher Lockridge

Young Chicago Authors recently held its Rooted & Radical Youth Poetry Festival (R&R) Showcase at the newly renovated Ramova Theatre in Bridgeport. Hundreds came out in support of Chicago’s young creatives. Doors opened at 5:00 pm and the show kicked off at 6:00 pm. DJ Cash Era, a former YCA kid, was on hand to keep the crowd hyped.

The festival, formerly known as Louder Than A Bomb, is an annual event that hosts more than 500 youth poets throughout four weeks of showcases, workshops, and special events. Participating poets, enrolled in both middle schools and high schools in the Chicago area performed original solo and group poems for over 7,000 audience members throughout the course of the festival.

This is the first year that the finals showcase has been live in person since COVID, and it was evident that its absence has left talent with this necessary space to express themselves. Chicago’s spoken word and poetry community is constantly growing and showcases like Rooted & Radical help to shine a light on both the emerging and aspiring artists in the city.

Kai from the poetry group Permanent Ink.

Spoken word poet, Kai Durkins from Permanent Ink, has been with YCA since she was in the seventh grade. Before taking the stage to perform at the showcase she gave praise to R&R. “I’m definitely grateful for Rooted & Radical because they are giving us a stage to broadcast our talent. So I’m excited to see what comes from this.”

Each poet received a trophy for their involvement in the event. Amazon was even in the building to gift YCA with a giant $75,000 check so that the organization can continue to foster creativity in Chicago youth.

The Executive Director of YCA, Demetrius Amparan, became a YCA participant when he was around 16 years old. Approximately 10 years later he started working with the organization and has been in the leader spot for about three years now. Before the show started he said, “I just want to see everyone’s look on their faces when they see these young people come to the stage.” When talking about the future of YCA, Amparan mentioned how there is beginning to be a huge lack of funding for arts programs. His plan is to hone in on that and to “stay true to taking the money and putting it in the right place for young people to have platforms like this to share stories and be able to spread across the city of Chicago.”

YCA Executive Director Demetrius Amparan poses with True Star’s Marquis Sewell.

If you missed out on the finals showcase this year, you really missed out. But, hey, there’s always 2025. You can learn more about the Rooted & Radical Poetry Festival and other YCA events and programs by visiting their website. visit:


By Marquis Sewell

Instagram: @marquis_sewell_


*Christopher Lockridge contributed to this article.


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Written by Marquis Sewell

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