Cantab Recap for Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A sweet and dedicated crowd turned out last night for the final Wednesday of summer at the Cantab, taking the open mic seriously, humorously, and sexily by turns. The many bright spots of the night turned out to be a perfect lead-in to the double-feature from Julia Gaskill and Stephen Meads; these two Portland (Oregon) powerhouses got down to business breaking open the room with the sound of slam, bringing all the quirk, laughs, and sudden circumstance the Pacific Northwest has come to be known for. Cool trick: these two will feature again at Manchester’s Slam Free or Die this Thursday if you want to catch them again!

Next week: we’re so proud to announce we are part of the book release tour for Emily O’Neill‘s newest book, a falling knife has no handle. Emily had some of the nicest things to say about her poetry history at the Cantab over on her website, and also plugged the early-bird workshop she’ll be hosting here: a limited number of walk-ins are welcome at 5:30 for a 6:00 sharp generative poetry workshop before the show, sliding scale $5-$20. More info (and the opportunity to reserve a spot in advance) is available on the workshop event page.

Tips from the Bar: Oh, God, the Bees

Create an unlikely, non-violent personal security system to prevent people from invading your personal space.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, September 19, 2018: Julia Gaskill & Stephen Meads

Portland touring duo Julia Gaskill & Stephen Meads. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Portland touring duo Julia Gaskill & Stephen Meads. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Julia Gaskill is a writer and professional daydreamer hailing from Portland, Oregon. When she’s not reviewing books or working for Pencil Ink Productions, she can be found performing on the Portland Poetry Slam stage, exploring the Pacific Northwest, or walking your dog. Julia competed in IWPS and WOWPS in both 2016 and 2017, was the Portland Poetry Slam rep at WOWPS 2018, and competed in NPS 2017 in Denver, CO. Her work has been featured on FreezeRay Poetry, Slam Find, Write About Now, Rising Phoenix Review, and Voicemail Poems. It goes without saying that she loves Muppets more than you. Find her work on tumblr, Instagram, or Twitter.

Stephen Meads, originally a Bay-based poet, has been living and performing in Portland for over six years. He has featured at slams all across the country,from Portland, Maine to Honolulu, Hawaii. Stephen stormed IWPS in 2013, 2014, 2017, and has competed in the National Poetry Slam five times with various teams. He has been featured on Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Slam Find, Write About Now, and Button Poetry, and he occasionally contributes to the web-site Nailed. Stephen eats a lot of pizza, is the champion of pro-wrestling factoids, and hates writing poet bios. Visit Stephen at his website.

This show in our weekly Wednesday series takes place at the Cantab Lounge, 738 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge. Doors for the show open at 7:15. The open mic begins at 8:00 and the feature performs at approximately 10:00. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The new slam season has begun, folks, and with it, eight baller new sestinas hit the stage last night at the Cantab! Our first theme slam of the season asked poets to bring a sestina, a sonnet, and an ode to our classic 8×8 format, and audience members were surprised, delighted, and perhaps even formally inspired by the fabulous and more-than-gently restricted work last night’s poets performed.

It is difficult, although not impossible, to successfully slam a sestina– but that didn’t stop our first round of slammers from taking this complex six-stanzas-plus form to the field of battle. After a quick sonnet sacrifice from Jonah Comstock, Sophia Holtz took the stage with an intense and seasonal sonnet with a view of the Twin Towers: Nathan Comstock met her on Gotham territory with a persona poem from one Robin to another, but despite similarly enthusiastic audience response, Nathan’s score did not hold up, advancing Sophia to the next round. Lip Manegio and Kieran Collier faced off in the second pairing, with Lip bringing a nuanced poem in a father’s voice to the stage, and Kieran putting forth a sexily conflicted sestina set in the gym; Kieran took this round, setting him up against Sophia in the sonnet head-to-head. On the back half of the pairing, George Abraham elicited gasps from the audience with a daring erasure to produce his form’s final tercet (THAT’S RIGHT, SESTINAS ARE DARING), but the score couldn’t hold up to Myles Taylor accelerating into an on-brand Poetry Magazine call-out. The final pairing of the sestina round was a host-vs-host affair, with Cassandra de Alba taking on the complex persona of English convict Mary Bell and Zeke digging deep for a journey into sobriety: Cassandra took the round to head to the second round against Myles.

The second round showed off four sonnets of varying form and modernity from the semi-final poets. Sophia opened with a classic Shakespearean form questioning the country’s greatness through the lens of WWII to today; this was narrowly defeated by Kieran with a grief sonnet in the same form. The other side of the bracket was also a tight pairing, starting with a more modern sonnet with ode pretensions on the subject of Myles’ humble mole; subsequent raucous crowd response for Cassandra’s “Three Sonnets with Room for a Ghost” was not reflected in the score, sending Myles to the final round for an all-Emerson College Ode Battle. Kieran opened the final with a sweet body-positive ode combining themes from his first two poems, while Myles clapped back with a brash ode to the latest decor (have you heard? it’s very loud, surely you have heard) of the Cantab Lounge. When the Ode Dust cleared, Kieran was left standing with the highest score, and a cool $25 in one hand. Congrats to Myles for achieving a tie for most poems read in the slam; we’re happy to give our runner-up free admission to the show next week!

Oh, and next week? We’re only having TWO features instead of one: Julia Gaskill and Stephen Meads are on the road from Portland, Oregon, with poems about dogs and lumberjacks and being in a body to perform for you. It’s our usual open mic that Wednesday, but if you’re looking for a slam, mark your calendars for our next competition: it’ll be all ghost stories at the upcoming slam on October 31.

Tips from the Bar: Excavation

A recent archaeological dig in Melbourne unearthed more than a thousand teeth extracted by a 19th-century dentist’s office.

What horrors will future investigators discover in your own ruins?

Cantab Slam for Wednesday, September 12, 2018: SSO What Slam?

The Boston Poetry Slam is excited to kick off a new wild ‘n’ boisterous slam series with the most controversial and fiery slam theme possible: Formal Poetry. We expect bloodthirsty competition to ensue given the following head-to-head slam format:

  • First round: SESTINA.
  • Second round: SONNET.
  • Third round: ODE.

Any necessary tiebreakers will be conducted in HAIKU. The top prize for the slam is $25!

UPDATE: the roster for tonight’s slam is full! Audience will be pleased to witness the following murderers’ row of formal composers:
Sophia Holtz
Zeke Russell
Myles Taylor
Cassandra de Alba
Kieran Collier
Nathan Comstock
Lip Manegio
George Abraham

Warm-up poets with a sestina (or sonnet) are still being accepted to the show. Please email for more info, or walk in and chat with any of the night’s hosts.

Want to judge the slam? Judges with strong ideas about sestina composition as well as judges with strong ideas about which well liquor pairs well with a rowdy poetry reading are equally welcome: no experience is necessary, or even desired. Email to get in free and have your very own whiteboard to hold.

This show in our weekly Wednesday series takes place at the Cantab Lounge, 738 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge. Doors for the show open at 7:15. The open mic begins at 8:00 and the the slam will follow at approximately 10:00. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Oh, we have gone some years without seeing Jeanann Verlee at the Cantab Lounge, and what a joy it was to remedy that this past week. Jeanann brought us the most sacred of narratives, conflating the concepts of confession and craft in a seamless and spare feature set. And, yes, she is a good-sport New Yorker who headed home thereafter to release her new book, but if you missed your pre-release chance, you can grab it straight from Black Lawrence Press today.

This Wednesday: it’s the first theme slam in our new series! Come see eight poets get down with a sestina, a sonnet, and an ode in our head-to-head SSO What Slam! The roster for the competition is full up, but we’re still taking advance sign-ups for judges (no poetic experience required, or even desired): please see the full event for all the info.

Tip from the Bar: Hindsight is High-Gloss

Consider the duct tape recently painted over at the Cantab Lounge. Now consider a time when you thought you had made some real self-improvement, maybe enough to tell somebody about. Did it go as well as you dreamed?

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, September 5, 2018: Jeanann Verlee

NEA Fellow Jeanann Verlee. Photo by Angelys Ocana.

NEA Fellow Jeanann Verlee. Photo by Angelys Ocana.

Jeanann Verlee is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellow and the author of three books: prey, finalist for the Benjamin Saltman Award (Black Lawrence, 2018); Said the Manic to the Muse (Write Bloody, 2015); and Racing Hummingbirds, silver medal winner in the Independent Publisher Awards (Write Bloody, 2010). She is a recipient of the Third Coast Poetry Prize and the Sandy Crimmins National Prize. Her poems and essays appear in a number of journals, including Adroit, BOAAT, BuzzFeed, VIDA, and Muzzle. She has served as poetry editor for Winter Tangerine Review and Union Station, among others, and as copy editor for multiple individual collections. Former director of Urbana Poetry Slam where she served as writing and performance coach, Verlee performs and facilitates workshops at schools, theatres, libraries, bookstores, and dive bars across North America. She collects tattoos, kisses Rottweilers, and believes in you. Find her at

This show in our weekly Wednesday series takes place at the Cantab Lounge, 738 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge. Doors for the show open at 7:15. The open mic begins at 8:00 and the feature performs at approximately 10:00. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Last night! What a super time was had with Jeremy Radin in the house, consummate actor and teacher, who started the evening by leading an early-bird performance workshop for an enthusiastic crew. Jeremy went on to put together a glorious feature, leading us from birdsong through sweet personal patter and ending with a series of poemologues (yes, we made that word up, what about it) to tug the heartstrings and maybe just a very few stars free from the sky. Jeremy’s book, Dear Sal, is still available from Not a Cult publishing house, but you can also see more of Jeremy’s work live in the NorthBEAST this week if you check your other local slams’ listings (hint: he’ll be at Slam Free or Die this very evening).

Next week: oh, boy, these Wednesdays are full of glory. We are so pleased to welcome Jeanann Verlee back to the stage, touring in support of her new book, prey. Doors open at 7:15 for you to get a seat, our open mic starts promptly at 8:00, and Jeanann will take the stage sometime after a 9:45ish break. See you there!