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No Exaggeration Necessary #5: Kevin Coval – Louder Then A Bomb

As you know, I normally take this time to write about how great and amazing I am but today needs to be dedicated to a truly amazing person who throws one of the greatest events Chicago has even been a part of.

This week I dedicate my “No Exaggeration Necessary” blog to Kevin Coval. Last year Kevin was named Chicago Bachelor of the Year but I think that doesn’t even come close to doing him justice. If it were up to me, he would be named Pimp of the Day, Man of the Week, Teacher of the Month and then Bachelor of the Year.

What impresses me the most with Kevin is not the amount of times he has been on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, or the two books he has had published of which the first went gold and the second is on the way to surpassing that. It’s not the fact that he travels around the country speaking and teaching at schools like Harvard nor is it the fact that he was named the most eligible man in the city (of which I am very jealous), it’s none of that. What I admire most about Kevin is the power and strength which he provides young adults from all corners of the city.

9 years ago Kevin started a citywide poetry slam for the Chicago Public and Alternative High School system. As most grassroots organizations, it started with just 12 teams and 56 kids and now, 9 years later, 60 teams with over 500 kids compete in font of thousands of spectators. The kids who participate are usually not the stars of the basketball team or cheerleaders - these are the kids who get overlooked on a daily basis and Kevin has created a platform for them to shine as the stars they are.

The contestants are the kids whom you always see in deep thought and wonder what they hell they could possibly be thinking all day. They don’t care about the typical things a teenager cares about or carry the weight of the world like most… or so you think.

It turns out that all kids, regardless of where they grew up, how hood or preppy their school is, or what activities they involve themselves in, all have the same story. That’s the craziest thing to me about listening to every kid who takes the stage, they all tell the same story.

Whether they are taking about their struggles of being a gay teen, or the only white kid in a class, or a Muslim girl told her falling in love is a sin, or a guy who was born physically (but defiantly not mentally) disabled, or a parents divorce or the loss of a sibling, they all tell the same story at the end of it all.

The story is life is hard at that age. We learn to cope with it and enjoy the positive aspects of life as we grow but when you’re young and don’t have much going on, everything seems way more serious.

Kevin has given these kids an outlet for their stories, yet it’s so much more then that. This is a poetry slam, not a write about your personal issues therapy session. But this is their only outlet. They share their most personal life secrets with thousands of people because Kevin gave them the strength, the know-how and the platform to do it. There is no doubt in my mind that Kevin has saved the lives of teenagers throughout the city. Without an outlet and a way to cope, many kids find they can’t face their life problems and the weight of the world is too much for them. I lost quite a few friends from suicide since early high school, as I know most of my friends lost different classmates as well. I know that a few would still be here if they had a chance to meet and work with Kevin. The work that Kevin does is priceless and similar to a superhero.

I am honored to represent Kevin everyday and blessed that I get to see him work and the immediate impact he makes in peoples lives. Please take a minute to watch the Louder Then A Bomb documentary trailer and you will see what I mean.

Kevin, my hat is off to you sir, and indeed your life needs no exaggeration.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

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