Cantab Recap for Wednesday, April 28, 2016

Oh, National Poetry Month! We are sure gonna miss you… Like we are already missing Rose Smith, one of the rarest touring poets we’ve ever had the joy to book out of Columbus, Ohio. Rose started her set with an understated opening, drawing the crowd close to hang on her every printed word… And finished out with two big performances of some of her biggest and best-known pieces from her years in slam. Thanks so much to Rose for traveling to see us!

After Rose’s feature, we held our Last Chance Slam, the final speed slam of the year and the ultimate year to get in on our World Qualifier Speed Slam next week. The one-minute round for all the marbles came down to RebeccaLynn Gualtieri and Cassandra de Alba: with her signature 50%-under-the-time-limit style, RebeccaLynn took 100% of the $10 prize and locks herself in as a favorite for the big show.

Want to see who else is competing in the big show next Wednesday? Click here for the complete list, and don’t forget to pack a $5 bill for the increased cover charge; we’ll be raising money to send our World Qualifier winner to the 2016 Individual World Poetry Slam in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Tips from the Bar: The Nicole Homer Prompt

Adam Stone offers a hat-tip to the excellent Nicole Homer and her own prompt for April 10:

Write 10 meals with someone you love.

Want more prompts from Nicole? There’s tons on her tumblr blog… And if you’re into regularly brilliant and thoughtful prompts, consider subscribing to her Patreon account, which will give you access to her supporters-only feed full of more great poem starters.

Oh, also, it’s the end of the month, so we are please to present April’s MacKenzie Family Prompt:


Good luck!

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, April 27, 2016: Rose Smith and the Last Chance Slam

Rose M. Smith, Columbus touchstone poet.

Rose M. Smith, Columbus touchstone poet.

Rose M. Smith is a shy, quiet poet who’s lived most of her life in Columbus, Ohio– a conversational voice heavily informed by human situations and emotion. Locally voted “poet most unlike herself at the mic,” she has been known to silence an unruly room when her poems begin to speak. She has represented the Columbus poetry venue Writers’ Block Poetry at the National Poetry Slam on four separate occasions, performing at the Finals Stage showcase in 2012.

A Cave Canem fellow, she is the author of Shooting the Strays (Pavement Saw Press, 2003) and A Woman You Know (Pudding House Publications, 2005) and was co-editor of Cap City Poets: Columbus and Central Ohio’s Best Known, Read, and Requested Poets (Pudding House Publications, 2008). Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, The Iconoclast, Good Foot, Pavement Saw, Concrete Wolf, Boston Literary Magazine, The Examined Life, Main Street Rag, and The Pedestal Magazine, and other journals and anthologies. Rose is also one of the organizers of The Poetry Forum, Columbus’ longest-running poetry series, and a 2011 TEDx Columbus speaker.

Note that tonight’s open poetry slam is a speed slam 3-, 2-, and 1-minute rounds, and is the Last Chance Slam in the series. The slam winner qualifies for the 2016 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. The Last Chance Slam, the final open SPEED slam to qualify for the 2016 World Qualifier, will follow. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Happy April, Cantab. What a gift this month brings us: Ross Gay, our just-for-a-minute neighbor, presented to us from his award-winning book Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude –including the long-reaching title poem, a rare treat in our venue that so often holds us to three minutes. Truly, as excellent a feature as we could have hoped for, and maybe one of Ross’ last in the area before returning home to Indiana. What a lucky Wednesday night we are.

Oh, oh, and speaking of luck/curated by skill/underpinned by hard work: it’s time to extend your congratulations to the winner of the Champion of Champions slam! All eight of our previous speed slam winners showed up (HOT DAMN) to take a shot at reigning champ Mckendy Fils-Aimé… But only two of them made it to the one-minute doom-round-of-doom, where Nora Meiners defeated John Pinkham in a glorious tiebreaker in his first showing at the champs slam! Nora let her $50 ride and made a grand effort to take down Mckendy in the new poem round; unsurprisingly, Mckendy refused to roll over and came back with a brand-new memorized piece, polishing off the final round and walking away $100 richer and keeping his title. Holy crap, that makes FOUR WINS STRAIGHT for Mckendy as Champion! There are eight open slams between now and the next champs slam in August. Who will come at him next?

Wait, we said eight slams… But we meant nine. Next week, we offer the very last speed slam of the year: the Last Chance Slam to earn a berth in the 2016 World Qualifier Speed Slam. Dust off your two- and one-minute poems for the comp, and listen up for the Columbus powerhouse, the rarely-seen, rarely-touring Rose Smith, closing out National Poetry Month with the bestest Midwest bang.

Tips from the Bar: Mouthy

Start your poem with the following ghost line:

“I am familiar with the treason of an ambitious mouth.”

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, April 20, 2016: Ross Gay and the Champion of Champions Slam

Ross Gay, National Book Award Finalist. Photo by Zack Hetrick.

Ross Gay, National Book Award Finalist. Photo by Zack Hetrick.

Ross Gay is the author of three books: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, which was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry and is nominated for an NAACP Image Award. He is also the co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook “Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens,” in addition to being co-author, with Richard Wehrenberg, Jr., of the chapbook, “River.” He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin’, in addition to being an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press. Ross is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Ross teaches at Indiana University and is currently a Radcliffe Institute fellow at Harvard University. Find him at

Tonight also marks the final night in our current 8×8 poetry slam series! Eight slam winners will slam off for the season championship and the opportunity to challenge the reigning Champion of Champions, Mckendy Fils-Aimé.

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

The Boston Poetry Slam and the House Slam Present: THE GRUDGE REMATCH, April 17, 2016

The Grudge Match is back! April 17, 2016. Banner by Emily Carroll, photos by Marshall Goff and Rich Beaubien.

The Grudge Match is back! April 17, 2016. Banner by Emily Carroll, photos by Marshall Goff and Rich Beaubien.

THE GRUDGE MATCH: House Slam vs. Boston Poetry Slam
Sunday, April 17, 2016
ONCE Ballroom, 156 Highland Ave., Somerville
doors at 6:30pm, show 7pm-10pm
all ages, 21+ to drink
$10/advance or $15/door (click for tickets)
click for Facebook event

It’s time to celebrate National Poetry month! The House Slam @ the Haley House Bakery Cafe and the Boston Poetry Slam @ the Cantab Lounge are proud to present the return of last year’s GRUDGE MATCH POETRY SLAM between the two venues… 2016: The Rematch!

On Sunday, April 17, greater Boston’s oldest and freshest slam venues will face off against each other in a head-to-head poetry battle for big-city bragging rights. Captain Porsha Olayiwola (House Slam) and Captain Simone Beaubien (Boston Poetry Slam) will lead their teams in the seven-round slamstravaganza, wherein all poets will present new work written EXCLUSIVELY FOR THIS SLAM on topics selected by the Captains.

The slam will be judged by five hyper-critical American-Idol-style judges whom you wish would just start a poetry troupe already: Dark Noise Collective founder Franny Choi, Chicago breakbeat poet Eve Ewing, NOLA poet and Harvard thinker Clint Smith, MTV writer Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, and hip-hop-poetry icon Jared Paul.


  • Simone Beaubien vs. Porsha Olayiwola: RECIPE POEM (sacrifice round)
  • Nora Meiners vs. Jordan Peterson: NATURAL DISASTERS
  • Emily O’Neill vs. Angelica Marie: DISINHERITANCE
  • Manvir Singh vs. Oompa: THE SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM
  • Jess Rizkallah vs. Ashley Davis: LIVING IN THIS BODY
  • Joshua Elbaum vs. Jayy Dodd: BLOSSOMING
  • J.R. Mahung vs. Melissa Lozada-Oliva: HOMELAND
  • Chloé Cunha vs. Erich Hagan: SWEAT IN YOUR EYES

The show opens promptly at 7:00 with performances from musician Brian McCarthy, comedian Wes Hazard, and poet Muggs Fogarty. The slam will follow, hosted by New Hampshire punk/poet/unflinching individual Emily Eastman.

This show is all ages, although is recommended for teens and up; you must be 21+ to drink, of course. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door, and all proceeds go to help send the House Slam and Boston Poetry Slam teams to the 2016 National Poetry Slam in Decatur, Georgia this August.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, April 13, 2016

It’s exactly the middle of National Poetry Month, folks, and we are just hitting our stride here at the Cantab. This week, Cassandra de Alba celebrated the release of her chapbook on Horse Less Press: habitats, with a jam-packed feature of one-minute poems. Did you miss your chance to buy the book? Nope, you totally didn’t: she’s got tons of copies and will be back at the Cantab next week, not to mention still working hard at maintaining our tumblr page.

The slam following Cassandra’s feature was the last slam in our 8×8 series, with previous season champs Emily O’Neill and Chloé Cunha facing off for the ten dollar prize! Chloé took the win and also earns herself a spot in the May 4 World Qualifier Speed Slam.

Next week: we’re back with the Champion of Champions slam and very-temporarily-local poet Ross Gay! But before that, we hope you remember that we’ll be holding our second annual GRUDGE MATCH with the House Slam this Sunday, April 17: tickets are just $10 in advance ($15 at the door) for this all-star show. Check it out!

Tips from the Bar: the Cassandra de Alba Prompt

“Deer in the highlights.”

Encyclopedia Show: Somerville for Thursday, April 14, 2016 — S3V5: CIVIL WARS

Encyclopedia Show: Somerville — CIVIL WARS on April 14, 2016! Art by Melissa Newman-Evans.

Encyclopedia Show: Somerville — CIVIL WARS on April 14, 2016! Art by Melissa Newman-Evans.

Thursday, April 14, 2016
The Davis Square Theatre
255 Elm St. in Somerville
7pm doors, 8pm-10pm show
all ages, $10/$7 sliding scale
click for Facebook event

The Boston Poetry Slam and Catherine Martin present the next installment in a slightly educational monthly series!

Our theme for this month’s show will be CIVIL WARS! Local artists have been invited to bring their inspiring and uplifting takes on the topic of neighbors declaring irreconcilable differences.

The Encyclopedia Show Somerville is a franchise event, wherein invited artists from a variety of performance disciplines present all-new, original works on sub-topics of a single theme. A recurring cast of hosts and characters welcomes the artists with open arms and minds, while the resident Fact Checker is charged with maintaining the integrity of the Encyclopedic Truth of the show. Presenting all-original guest performances from local artists, plus work from our recurring cast members:

  • Rob Crean and Chloé Cunha provide clever banter and funny accents appropriate for CO-HOSTING
  • The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library offers MUSICAL SUPPORT
  • Wes Hazard dispenses QUESTIONABLE EXPERTISE with panache and aplomb
  • and The Intern will be borrowing some delicate antique weapons from the local armory.

Live Fact Checking is reluctantly provided by Jack van Sly from the Institute of Human Knowledge and Hygiene. The personal assistant to Mr. van Sly is Jade Sylvan.

This show in our monthly Encylopedia Show: Somerville series takes place at the Davis Square Theatre, 255 Elm St. in Somerville. Doors and the theatre bar open for a pre-show welcome party at 7:00. The show begins promptly at 8:00 and finishes at 10:00, including a short intermission. This is an all ages show! Admission is $10, or $7 for students, teachers, or guests in Prohibition-era dress.

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