Cantab Feature for Wednesday, March 22, 2017: Deonte Osayande

Detroit poet and community leader Deonte Osayande. Photo by Sam Cooke.

Detroit poet and community leader Deonte Osayande. Photo by Sam Cooke.

Deonte Osayande is a former track and field sprinter turned writer from Detroit, Mich. He writes nonfiction essays and his poems have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, a Pushcart Prize and published in over 40 different publications. He has represented Detroit at multiple National Poetry Slam competitions and is currently the SlamMaster of Freshwater Wordsmiths. He’s a professor of English at Wayne County Community College, and teaches youth through the Inside Out Detroit Literary Arts Program. His first full collection of poems, entitled Class, will be available from Urban Farmhouse Press in 2017.

Note that tonight’s open poetry slam will be a speed slam with 3-, 2-, and 1-minute rounds. Slam winners qualify for the 2017 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 poetry slam in the 8×8 series will follow. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, March 15, 2017: CUPSI Warm-Up

The Cantab CUPSI Warm-Up will prepare local teams for collegiate slam nationals, coming to Chicago this April.

The Cantab CUPSI Warm-Up will prepare local teams for collegiate slam nationals, coming to Chicago this April.

The annual collegiate national poetry slam tournament is the driving performative force behind a large number of the Cantab’s regular readers and listeners. This year, our local students (and some local familiar coaches as well) will be headed to Chicago, Illinois for the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. To help our town favorites gear up for the national competition, we’ll be offering the CUPSI Warm-Up, a team slam featuring four teams in a nationals-style team slam, incorporating all the collegiate regulations, poetry, and intensity of competition we’ve come to expect from CUPSI.

This year’s event will feature teams from Emerson College, Simmons College, Wellesley College, and Northeastern University, plus warm-up poems from Wheelock College! It’s (just some of) the future of slam, folks: bring your fight songs, flags, and/or tough, objective judging faces to help these poets prepare for their national tournament in April.

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 slam begins at approximately 10:00. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, March 8, 2017: Raena Shirali & David Winter

Indian American poet and Pushcart Prize winner Raena Shirali. Photo by Ginia Worrell.

Indian American poet and Pushcart Prize winner Raena Shirali. Photo by Ginia Worrell.

Raena Shirali’s collection, GILT, fiercely unveils its first generation, East Indian speakers’ reconciliation of her identity as it engages with and critiques both Indian and American culture’s treatment and expectations of women. David Winter’s chapbook Safe House, and his current manuscript Archived Light, explore how queer and raced bodies live and love in a violent world. By performing their poems in conversation with each other, these two poets pose questions such as: How do we discern safe space from violence in drag? How can fragmentation and lyric explore our unknowable selves, lovers, heritages? How do we reconcile the personal body with the political, the self with its surrounding cultures? How can violence be music, and music be violent? How does communication fail us; how then, can silence (of lovers, families, cultures, nations) be a source of trauma? And can such silences be reclaimed as spaces for meditation or healing?

Onetime Cantab regular and Ohio resident David Winter. Photo by Lisa Flanagan.

Onetime Cantab regular and Ohio resident David Winter. Photo by Lisa Flanagan.

The first time David Winter performed his poetry was at the Cantab Lounge in 2004, where he was a regular until leaving for college the following year. More recently, he wrote the chapbook Safe House, which was selected for publication by Ocean Vuong and Helen Vitoria of Thrush Press. His poems appear in publications such as The Baffler, Day One, Four Way Review, Muzzle, Ninth Letter, The Offing, and Winter Tangerine. David received an MFA from The Ohio State University and a 2016 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. He is currently working on a full-length manuscript, entitled Archived Light, as a 2016-18 Stadler Fellow at Bucknell University.

Indian American poet Raena Shirali’s first book, GILT, is forthcoming in 2017 with YesYes Books, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Four Way Review, Indiana Review, Muzzle Magazine, Ninth Letter, and many more. She received her MFA from The Ohio State University. Her honors include a 2016 Pushcart Prize, the 2016 Cosmonauts Avenue Prize, recognition as a finalist for the 2016 Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize, the 2014 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, recognition as a finalist for the 2014 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and a “Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Prize in 2013. She will be the Spring 2017 Philip Roth Resident at the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University, and currently serves as a poetry reader for Muzzle Magazine.

Note that tonight’s open poetry slam will be a speed slam with 3-, 2-, and 1-minute rounds. Slam winners qualify for the 2017 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 poetry slam in the 8×8 series will follow. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, March 1, 2017

It was a wild ride at semi-finals this Wednesday, folks, with an unprecedented lucky thirteen poets taking the stage to try for a spot in the Finals. After two rounds of blisteringly hot slam, then new-to-the-stage work from sacrifices RebeccaLynn and Meaghan Ford, we ended up with a record-setting ELEVEN poets qualified for Finals on March 29:

1. Brandon Melendez 59.0
2. Neiel Israel 58.4
3. Allison Truj 57.9
4. Mckendy Fils-Aimé 57.2
5. Kylie Noelle 57.0
6. Adam Stone 56.3
7(t). Em Taylor 55.5
7(t). Austin Hendricks 55.5
9(t). Kieran Collier 55.5
9(t). John Pinkham 55.5
9(t). Zeke Russell 55.5

12. Claudia Wilson
13. Ron Prudent

Our five awesome judge (thanks: Quinn, Eric, Eden, Christopher, and John & Kai!) stayed so tightly consistent that we had a three-way tie for the ninth spot to qualify! So all the poets in bold have qualified to advance to the three-round final slam to select the 2017 Boston Poetry Slam Team.

March 29 is gonna be an extra-long slam, folks (with a break in the middle), so get ready for an extra-short open mic. If you want to catch a spot to read this month, you might have to set your heart on one of the next three Wednesdays: we’ll be featuring David Winter & Raena Shirali on March 8, the CUPSI Warm-Up slam on March 15, and Deonte Osayande on March 22. See you there!

Tips from the Bar: Group Piece!

Write a collaborative piece with someone where each of you learns something about the other.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, March 1, 2017: Team Selection Semi-Finals

The Cantab’s Team Selection Slams are the venue’s biggest, wildest poetry slams of the year. This March, 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.

The following poets have qualified to compete in Semi-Finals for the 2017 team:

  1. Claudia Wilson
  2. Ron Prudent
  3. Austin Hendricks
  4. Zeke Russell
  5. Justin Jiménez (declined)
  6. Kylie Noelle
  7. Brandon Melendez
  8. Allison Truj
  9. Adam Stone
  10. Kieran Collier
  11. Mckendy Fils-Aimé
  12. Neiel Israel
  13. Emily Taylor
  14. John Pinkham

Sacrificial poets: Meaghan Ford and RebeccaLynn.

Team Selection Slams go for a total of seven poems (over three rounds) at the Cantab, with the top five poets comprising the venue’s National Poetry Slam Team. The 2017 Boston Poetry Slam Team will travel to the National Poetry Slam out west in Denver, Colorado.

The top twelve poets from the first and second Preliminary heats (six from each, plus ties!) advance to the Semi-Finals show.

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 22, 2017

It seems like the nights are getting shorter, Cantabbers. Is it so? For instance, last night, when Hieu Minh Nguyen took the stage, it seemed like just a few blinks, six-to-eight life-and-oeuvre-changing poems later, and he was gone. With work as dense, nuanced, and emotionally charged as Hieu’s, we know it’s not enough (it’s never enough), so don’t forget that you can take his work home with you: his recent work, This Way to the Sugar (Write Bloody) is still available from the publisher, or you can get connected to his author website to for information on Here, due out on Coffee House Press in 2018.

In keeping with the lightning-fast nature of the night, the evening closed with a speed slam: four intrepid slammers took the stage in search of the most elusive literary beast, $10 for poetry! The final round came down to Orlando traveler Troy Cunio vs. local poet-making-good Sara Mae. Sara took the top score in the one-minute round, keeping the ten bucks in the local economy, but sending Troy off with a huge round of applause.

Next week: oh, did you like that speed slam? There’s so much more where that came from! Not to be pushy, but, really, slam fans just MUST come to the Team Selection Semi-Finals next week. Our open mic will be quick as a blink, so come early (or consider waiting until another week) if you want to get in on it… Or, for the maximum influence on our night, you could luck out and get to judge the slam! It’s gonna be a wicked good show, folks, so pack a snack (because you can always bring your dinner to the Cantab, just not your drinks) and get ready for two poems each from Claudia Wilson, Ron, Austin Hendricks, Zeke Russell, Kylie Noelle, Brandon Melendez, Allison Truj, Adam Stone, Kieran Collier, Mckendy Fils-Aimé, Neiel Israel, Emily Taylor, and John Pinkham. And, yes, that’ll be a $5 night, because hot dang!

Tips from the Bar: No, It’s Not

Write a eulogy for an art form that is very much alive.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, February 22, 2017: Hieu Minh Nguyen

Minneapolis poet Hieu Minh Nguyen.

Minneapolis poet Hieu Minh Nguyen.

Hieu Minh Nguyen is the author of This Way to the Sugar (Write Bloody Press, 2014) which was a finalist for both a Minnesota Book Awards and a Lambda Literary Awards. A queer Vietnamese American poet, Hieu is a Kundiman fellow and a poetry editor for Muzzle Magazine. A decorated slam poet, Hieu has performed and competed at national and international poetry slam festivals since the age of 16. His work has also appeared in the Southern Indiana Review, BuzzFeed READER, PBS NewsHour, Guernica, Ninth Letter, Devil’s Lake, Bat City Review, the Paris-American, and elsewhere. His second collection of poetry, Not Here, is forthcoming from Coffee House Press. Hieu is a nationally touring poet, performer, and teaching artist. He lives in Minneapolis.

Note that tonight’s open poetry slam will be a speed slam with 3-, 2-, and 1-minute rounds. Slam winners qualify for the 2017 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 poetry slam in the 8×8 series will follow. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, February 15, 2017

You must know, Cantabbers, what a sweet sight it is to see the room packed from wall to wall for a poetry show… Especially if you arrived early enough to secure yourself a seat and a coveted open mic spot, of course. This Wednesday, we welcomed the incomparable Safia Elhillo to our loving and grungy little stage, and she brought the house down with the beautiful long-drawn-out-breath-of-work she’s become notable for. Oh, and did you not learn enough about how country makes and is made by lines and accent, or how love makes and is made by a body, or how Abdelhalim Hafez lived and sang and died? No problem: Safia’s upcoming book, The January Children, is available right the heck now from the University of Nebraska Press.

Our third speed slam in the 8×8 series was a wicked affair, with an odd number of poets getting into the mix for two rounds of three- and two-minute poems. At the end of each, Kieran Collier and Em Taylor rose to the top of the scores, facing off in the one-minute round: Kieran took the big win and the ten bucks, cementing his spot in the upcoming World Qualifier Speed Slam this May.

Next week: we keep rolling with our incredible 2017 schedule, welcoming Minneapolis heartbreaker/powerhouse Hieu Minh Nguyen back to our mic. Trust us, it’s gonna be good: get here early for your cozy seat, and hang out until half-past-eleven to catch the fourth speed slam in the series.

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