Cantab Recap for Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Cantabbers! Thanks to each and every one of you for coming out to the basement last night for SPRING BREAK 2018 Team Selection Semi-Finals! After a roller coaster of a slam, with much of our audience casting some high-quality side-eye at a few judges, we have results. It took two rounds to get the standings to shake out like so:

1. Brandon Melendez 57.9
2. Neiel Israel 57.6
3. Allison Truj 56.4
4. RebeccaLynn 56
5. John Pinkham 55.9
6. Evan Cutts 55.8
7. George Abraham 55.7
8. Meaghan Ford 55.5
9. Sara Mae 55.3

10. Myles Taylor
11. Kieran Collier
12. Anna Binkovitz

Our top nine poets (in bold) have qualified to advance to the March 21 three-round Finals (should they choose to accept the challenge). Extra thanks to Lip McDonald and Colin Killick for fabulous sacrificial poems, to our five judges (Fernando, April, Sean, Benji & Megan, and Shreya) for standing strong on their scores all night long, and to meticulous Ravenclaw Cassandra for spot-on scorekeeping.

Next week: we close out Black History Month strong with one of the Capital Region’s best, as D. Colin takes the stage for a feature set. We’ll also welcome up to eight slammers in our second open speed slam in the series, which includes rounds for 3-, 2-, and 1-minute poems.

Tips from the Bar: Freddy Krueger Works in HR

Consider a work-related nightmare (the waking or dreaming kind). Revise it to fit your own needs.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, February 21, 2018: Team Selection Semi-Finals

The Cantab’s Team Selection Slams are the venue’s biggest, wildest poetry slams of the year. This February, we continue our selection process with the second round of three, the Team Selection Semi-Finals. With two poems behind them and five to go, competing poets are likely to be reaching deep into their pockets on this particular night, or even trying out untested work in hope of saving some major ammunition for the upcoming three-poem Finals… Making Semi-Finals just possibly the most interesting night of the selection series.

Competing poets from this night have be drawn from Heat One and Heat Two of the Team Selection Preliminaries. Poets will each perform two poems, with the first round kicking off in this order:
1. Evan Cutts
2. Myles Taylor
3. Sara Mae
4. Meaghan Ford
5. Allison Truj
6. RebeccaLynn
7. Kieran Collier
8. Anna Binkovitz
9. John Pinkham
10. George Abraham
11. Neiel Israel
12. Brandon Melendez
sacrifices: Lip McDonald, Colin Killick

The top nine poets at the end of the night will advance to our March 21 Finals show; after that, the top five poets comprising the venue’s National Poetry Slam Team. The 2018 Boston Poetry Slam Team will travel to the National Poetry Slam in Chicago, Illinois.

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. A SHORTENED open mic begins at 8:00 and the slam begins at approximately 9:15. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $5; proceeds will go toward funding the team’s travel to the National Poetry Slam this August.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy day after Valentine’s, poets! Congratulations on closing the books on yet another February 14; we had a glorious No Romance open mic at the Cantab, during which hardly any overtures were attempted and the bingo cards cards created by Cassandra de Alba (with the assist from Michael F. Gill) made fabulous conversation pieces. Truly heartfelt thanks go to all the poets on the open mic who thought so hard about space-making and -taking before speaking, and to everyone contributing to a gloriously romance-free zone for one of the most fraught nights of the calendar year!

Of course, as much as we’d like to thank our bingo theme for the excellent turnout last night, we know the concentrated joy in the space was all about Ariana Brown, CUPSI champ and MFA candidate who dug deep into the vulnerability of learning to love herself in America; our utmost thanks to Ariana for bringing her strength and craft to bear as we continue our Black History Month celebration.

Next week: our slam series advances to semi-finals! Twelve qualified poets from the two preliminary heats will go two rounds each to see who will move on to the finals for the 2018 Boston Poetry Slam Team. Come see Brandon Melendez, Neiel Israel, George Abraham, John Pinkham, Anna Binkovitz, Kieran Collier, RebeccaLynn, Allison Truj, Meaghan Ford, Sara Mae, Myles Taylor, and Evan Cutts slam for the top nine spots! Bring along your most judgemental friend and a sawbuck, because it’ll be a $5 cover that night to help raise money to send the team to Nationals in August.

Tips from the Bar: Aw, Shark Week!

Create an obscenity based on something you love, but hate that you love.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, February 14, 2018: Ariana Brown and the NO ROMANCE Open Mic

For Valentine’s Day this year, the Boston Poetry Slam will not offer a specific Erotic Open Mic for the Wednesday closest to the “holiday;” instead, the reading presents a NO ROMANCE open mic, at which the one-off stylings of would-be Casanovas shall be soundly mocked. Proper erotica (note that “consent” is a non-negotiable component of erotica), fanfic/shipping, or professions of aromantic love to your best friend, dog, or favorite comfy sweater will be warmly welcomed.

Our headlining feature for the evening is exempt from the preceding condition:

Ariana Brown, Academy of American Poets Prizewinner. Photo by Christopher Diaz.

Ariana Brown, Academy of American Poets Prizewinner. Photo by Christopher Diaz.

Ariana Brown is a Black Mexican American poet from San Antonio, Texas, with a B.A. in African Diaspora Studies and Mexican American Studies. She is the recipient of two Academy of American Poets Prizes and a 2014 CUPSI champion, and can moonwalk better than anyone in this room. Ariana writes a lot about what it’s like to exist in her body and how to unlearn the shame that sometimes comes with it. She is lowkey a curandera and primarily interested in using poetry to validate black girl rage in all its miraculous forms; highkey the yungest abuela you will ever meet. She is currently earning an MFA in Poetry at the University of Pittsburgh. Follow her on work at and on Twitter & Instagram. You can purchase her work directly from the artist here.

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, February 7, 2018

Happy Black History Month, Cantabbers! We were exceptionally proud to kick off our month with a workshop and feature from touchstone poetic voice Hanif Abdurraqib. Hanif put many of hours of work into our gritty little venue, starting with an inspirational generational workshop, taking a short interlude to read outside the venue to folks who arrived after the space sold out(!), and closing with an extended and exceptionally beautiful feature set. Our deepest gratitude to Hanif, and also to the many poets who contributed their dollars, space-making skills, and positive energy to the artist to help make this one of the most memorable feature nights in Cantab history.

The Boston Poetry Slam would especially like to highlight the effort of poet and bartender RebeccaLynn, who provided the inspiration and impetus for this workshop, as well as working hard as a communicator and point person to welcome as many folks of color as possible to the Cantab on this first Wednesday in February. This event could not have been possible without the time she volunteered to make it happen. (Just so you know, you can check out RebeccaLynn’s poet page to book her for paid gigs during any month of the year.)

But, okay, enough about us: after last night’s feature, by the way, we kicked off our first speed slam in the 8×8 series. The first round brought us a tough reminder that, yes, we need Black History Month every day; thanks to our poets, audience, and judges for staying strong through a souring moment. Triumphantly, the final one-minute round came down to Evan Cutts vs. RebeccaLynn, where Evan’s haikus ultimately bowed to RebeccaLynn’s necessary rejoinder, earning her the ten-dollar prize and the first shot at taking down newly minted Champion of Champions Brandon Melendez.

Oh, and guess what: we’re back with more of the best of the best next week! First, you will want to gird your loins (or, like, whatever), for the Boston Poetry Slam’s first ever NO ROMANCE open mic: there’s gonna be a whole world of February 14 outside the basement doors, so feel free to NOT bring your pink candy hearts, your showy marriage proposals, or your poems about conventional monogamous heteronormative romance… Instead, bring a political rant or a love poem to your favorite socks and read it in front of much-anticipated feature Ariana Brown, the Black Mexican American poet from San Antonio who was our most requested feature for 2018.

Tip From the Bar: John Cusack, Get Off My Lawn

Take on an event from pop culture, or in your own life, in the voice of an unusual perspective. (Adam’s example: the boom box from Say Anything.)

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, February 7, 2018: Hanif Abdurraqib

Columbus writer Hanif Abdurraqib. Photo by Andy Cenci.

Columbus writer Hanif Abdurraqib. Photo by Andy Cenci.

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism has been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length collection, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry, and was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book prize. With Big Lucks, he released a limited edition chapbook called Vintage Sadness in summer 2017 (you cannot get it anymore and he is very sorry.) His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio. He is a Callaloo Creative Writing Fellow, an interviewer at Union Station Magazine, a poetry editor at Muzzle Magazine, and a member of the poetry collective Echo Hotel with poet/essayist Eve Ewing.

Tonight’s event will be preceded by an early-bird workshop with the feature. Please note that there is limited space in this workshop and advance sign-ups are recommended; see this page for details.

Note that tonight’s open poetry slam is a speed slam with 3-, 2-, and 1-minute rounds. Slam winners qualify for the 2018 World Qualifier.

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. An open speed slam in the 8×8 series will follow. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, January 21, 2018

It took us two Wednesdays, Cantabbers, but we finally finished up the first round (two poems each from nineteen slammers) of the 2018 Team Selection Slams! Our second heat closed out last night, a strong field taking deeply personal work unto the prelim. After two rounds, the dust cleared to reveal:

1. Neiel Israel 57.1
2. John Pinkham 55.9
3. Anna Binkovitz 55.2
4. RebeccaLynn 55.1
5. Sara Mae 54.9
6. Myles Taylor 54.5

7. Colin Killick
8. Lindsey Michelle
9. José Zepeda
DNS: Lyra de Castro

The top six poets (in bold) are invited to advance to Semi-Finals on February 21. Once again, big ups to to to our two sacrificial poets, Zeke Russell and Sophia Holtz, and some very serious, spotlight-dodging judges: Niva, Sarah, Eric & Sara, Tiffany, and Omar.

Next week: we wish you a happy Black History Month! Get your February started right by sitting down to listen up to one of the very best in the biz, a certain Ohioan Hanif Abdurraqib, who’ll be bringing essay excepts from They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us and some to the stage. This show will absolutely sell out, so please arrive early (before door time, for instance) if you are hoping for a seat/spot on the open mic/mind blown right open on a Wednesday night.

On February 7, Hanif Abdurraqib will lead a pre-show workshop at the Cantab with limited space. Please email for details.