Louder than a Bomb: Duchesne’s Gina Keplinger

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March 21st, 2012

Omaha, NE – High school students from across the city will be reading and performing their poetry in a series of competitions kicking off April 15th. KVNO News will be profiling a few of those students from different high schools. This is the first segment in our four-part Louder than a Bomb series.

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Gina Keplinger performs at the OM center in downtown Omaha. (Photo by Angel Martin)

On the last official day of winter at the OM center in downtown Omaha, dozens of people gathered for the Encyclopedia Show. It’s a variety show, featuring poets, writers and performers.

“You get up in front of a room full of strangers and you share your secrets,” said Gina Keplinger, a 17-year old junior at Duchesne Academy, who was getting ready to perform in the show. Prior to sound check, Keplinger shared one of her secrets in her piece: “This is Not a Love Poem.”

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Over the past six months, Keplinger said she’s been working on her writing by taking on different personas, and writing from different perspectives. She said writing acts as therapy for her.

“I’ve really pushed myself to live by the phrase ‘tell the truth’, she said. “Don’t over exaggerate, don’t under exaggerate, tell people what happened, and tell your story.”

“I think that’s really important…good or bad, happy or sad my story is out there,” she said.

Keplinger is a participant and student organizer for Louder than a Bomb: a youth poetry slam competition in Omaha. Slam is a style of performance poetry where poets are scored by judges in the audience.

“There’s a phrase that’s in the slam community. The point is not the points. The point is the poetry. For me, the point is the poetry, and also for me, the point is the people,” Keplinger said.

“I think building community is really important in this, and meeting people, growing as an artist, growing as poet, that’s what matters for me,” she said.

Read more about slam poetry and Louder than a Bomb here: an interview with the founder of Nebraska Writer’s Collective, Matt Mason

“So, whether or not I get high scores in a slam, it’s about: I read what I needed to read to be able to get something off my chest, whether it’s a letter to my ex, a letter to my dad or something I really wanted to tell my sister for a really long time,” she said.

Keplinger said she’s watched the documentary Louder than a Bomb three times and said she’s met Lamar “The Truth” Jordan, one of the students followed in the film, which documents the original contest in Chicago.

“It’s amazing for me to have seen this film on the big screen and gone wow these kids are great, but this is never going to happen for me,” Keplinger said.

“Then six months later, to say ‘hey I’m a part of this.’ My home town, and not only am I a part of it, but I’m participating and starting this team and leading this team and hopefully I’m going to lead them someplace pretty far in the competition,” she said with a laugh.

“I don’t know if we’re going to win, but we’re certainly going to try.”

Louder than a Bomb kicks off April 15th. For a full schedule and more information about the event, click here.

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