Cantab Recap for Wednesday, November 19, 2014

If you are human, poet, it is just possible that the fall and winter holidays fill you with a hint, just the tiniest whisper, of familial stress. Fear not! Family time also means that Cantab family returns home: for this season, we were so pleased to welcome back Carrie Rudzinski, one-time Emerson poet and now full-time performing artist and resident of Los Angeles, California. True to form, Carrie has been producing (and polishing) new work at a blistering pace, and she brought us a wonderful window into what she’s been up to since her last Boston Poetry Slam visit. She’s on an incredibly intense east coast tour right now, so check your local listings to see if she’s coming by the neighborhood where you’ll be in the next couple of weeks.

After Carrie’s feature, of course, we held our eponymous slam: a few travelers from the frozen north worked their way down to visit us, including Zanne Langlois, who took on Berklee’s Will Lynch (who also traveled all the way across the Charles) in the final round. Zanne took top honors and the ten bucks, and will return to slam with us again in January!

Next week: WE HAVE HAD A SCHEDULE CHANGE. We will be rescheduling the lovely, talented, and only temporarily-canceled Angel Nafis. Filling in for Angel will be a guy we’ve been trying to get a date with for at least a year: Denver’s champion of all things, Ken Arkind! Ken occasionally swings by for a one-poem blow-your-mind-spotlight on the open mic, so you won’t want to miss his full feature next week. See you there!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, November 12, 2014

We told you. We told you that Manvir Singh was going to be outrageous and wildly original, that he was going to take you on journeys you had never experienced before, that he was going to do it with love and brilliance and that JUST MAYBE (okay, we didn’t tell you this part) there would be a tiny dance party at the end of the show… And you believed us! Our thanks to the droves of folks who visited us for Manvir’s feature last night, and special hat-tips to those who waited patiently at the door for our tiny room to make space for all his fans. If you were left out in the cold, you can of course purchase books from this remarkable artist: we always recommend you purchase directly from the poet, but if you fear you won’t cross paths in person again, you can also get two of his doodlebooks from Amazon.

After our little sold-out dance party wound down, by the way, we of course brought ourselves back to the slam. A competitive eight took the stage with plans to take home a ten-high pile of damp (don’t ask) dollar bills, and two emerged from the fire into the final round: Eddy Martinez and Ed Wilkinson. Both brought strong showings, but Ed’s lambasting of hope (perhaps a riff off a poet in an earlier round?) took top honors and the win.

Next week: she’s lived in Denver, New Zealand, and Los Angeles, but we always like to think that one-time Emerson grad Carrie Rudzinski is coming home when she walks into the Cantab. Carrie will bring new work from her many travels and we’ll serve up the third poetry slam in this season’s 8×8 series.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A break in the October/November rain came just in time for Wednesday poetry tonight, and we had great turnout for the delightfully unapologetic Cheryl Maddalena. This lady from Boise has sass, moxie, and also a poem to make you feel that your penis is beautiful, just in case you hadn’t thought about it lately. You are the luckiest! (But if you missed her, no worries: you can head north and catch her at Slam Free or Die in Manchester tonight.)

Speaking of moxie: only six poets gathered up enough to slam in the show last night, but they were a fearsome six! The finals came down to Catherine Martin and Emily Carroll, who skillfully (but almost reluctantly) took the win, the ten-dollar prize, and the first spot in January’s Champion of Champions slam.

Next week: we’re back with surreal and mid-expanding storyteller Manvir Singh, as well as another open slam. But wait! You can cure today’s post-Cantab-gray-day blues by binging on the rest of your Halloween candy and heading over to Fazenda TONIGHT to catch gaelle win robin at Moonlighting, hosted by Emily while she’s fresh off her slam win. See you there!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The nights are getting longer, Cantabbers, which means the slams are getting feistier! All eight of our past season’s slam winners turned out for last night’s Champions of Champions Slam, each looking for a chance to depose Bobby Crawford from throne. The open mic was filled with solid work, including a few returning newcomers, and great enthusiasm from a supportive crowd.

Although a last-minute scheduling snafu kept Nate Marshall from making it to his feature, that just meant the Champion of Champions match took over the feature spot for the night! Any one of these eight poets would rate a full feature at the Cantab, we think, but some of them only got the opportunity to slam one poem before having to pack it in and go back to the bar. After an on-page sacrifice by Bobby Crawford, performance was the name of the game for the first round, with poets pulling out all the stops just to try to survive. The final season match-up came down to two on-fire performers, Mckendy Fils-Aimé and Sean Patrick Mulroy, with Sean’s momentum just edging out Mckendy’s warm reception from the crowd.

Did Sean decide to let his $50 season championship prize ride all the way to the next round? OF COURSE HE DID. In the final Champion of Champions round, Sean and Bobby faced off with new-to-the-Cantab work, each with a poem held back specifically for this very match-up. A remarkably consistent set of five judges was painfully divided on the vote, but challenger Sean’s decision to memorize crowdwalk just might have outstripped Bobby’s good look in laurels: by 3-2, Sean Patrick Mulroy was crowned our new Champion of Champions!

Next week: open slams start again for all you upstarts gunning for Sean’s tiara. Oh, and we’ll finally have a feature from Berkeley-Boise slam legend Cheryl Maddalena! See you there!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, October 23, 2014

It was a wet and windy night on the streets of Cambridge yesterday, with a nor’easter keeping much of our early crowd at home. Still, a good number of folks thought it would be a perfect night to come out and get dark and close together in a cozy basement for Meaghan Ford’s Choose Your Own Adventure-style feature set. Meaghan brought us through the eye of the storm and back out into the light in a retrospective of the themes and work she’s been putting on the stage for the past years.

The slam was our last in the series, which means it drew quite a selection of gung-ho poets (for a change, the slam list filled up well before the open mic)! Eight wildly different voices took the stage to vie for the $10 prize and the last slot in the Champion of Champions slam match next week, but when the waters receded, it was just Kieran Collier and John Mortara left standing. By a slim but hard-earned margin, rookie slammer John took the win and the highly coveted eight-spot in the champs match!

Rain or moonshine, we’ll be back next week with an incredible winners line-up for the 8×8 Champion of Champions slam, as well as the literary stylings of up-and-coming Chicago poet Nate Marshall. See you there!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What an excellent open mic at the Cantab last night, folks: poets turned out in droves to hear (and be heard by) Canadian-gone-local poet Andrew Campana, and catching up with Austin poet Jena Kirkpatrick in a super-Southern-sweet spotlight feature. Official photographer Rich Beaubien was also in the house to get a few shots for us:

A packed house hung on every word, especially Andrew’s carefully constructed, playful, and densely researched work. Missed the fun? You can at least check out one of the pieces Andrew talked about last night, Automation, published over on the Printer’s Devil Review.

The slam was a good mix of usual suspects, occasional some-timers, and imports from the Portland scene: the final round came down to Ed Wilkinson (again! Ed!) and an IWPS-fresh Sean Patrick Mulroy. Sean took the victory and the ten bucks, as well as the chance to challenge Champion of Champions Bobby Crawford at the slam on October 29.

Next week: newly-minted N.U.T.S. champion Meaghan Ford takes the stage for a full feature, and we enjoy the last open slam in this 8×8 series. See you there!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Welcome, October poetry fans! One of the joys of having a featured poet every week at the Boston Poetry Slam is the opportunity to book a vast array of poets from different cities and moments in their poetry career. Last night might have been the year’s best example: Ocean Vuong, an award-winning, widely published Pushcart Prize winner, was unknown to much of the audience, but his intense, densely crafted, deeply emotional work stuck a chord with the crowd and will no doubt ring familiar in voices of open mic readers for weeks to come. What an excellent and eye-opening night.

Following our feature, a six-poet extravaganza of slam took the stage: first-timers bringing polished work, veterans bringing work still in the notebook, and at least two judges willing to spend as much time at the bar as necessary to get them through the slam. A surprisingly consistent team of listeners awarded Adam Stone and Ed Wilkinson the spots in the final round: Adam edged out Ed for the win and a crisp $10 bill we assume he will waste on notebook paper.

Next week: we are back with local favorite Andrew Campana! Austin poet Jena Kirkpatrick will also be in the house for an oh-so-slightly snarky spotlight feature on the open mic.

But wait: there’s more! If you need your slam fix tonight, you might not even have to leave the comfort of that questionable papasan chair you picked up at Allston Christmas last month… The Individual World Poetry Slam kicks off in Phoenix, Arizona, this evening, and you can follow all the action at Check in on how our 2014 IWPS rep Sean Patrick Mulroy sizes up against 71 other top poets from around North America, including some other local names we love like Meaghan Ford, Emily Eastman, Generalissimo, Franny Choi, Robin Merrill, and Porsha O! Break some legs, poets!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, October 1, 2014

When a poet asks you to change your usual behavior in order to accommodate the plans for his feature –for instance, by asking you not to clap in a slam venue so he can pack more poems into his set– you might at first be taken aback, or tempted to engage in some good-natured ribbing at the poet’s expense. However, if the poet can really put his money where his mouth is (and if anyone can, Sean Patrick Mulroy can), you just might find yourself spellbound, glued to your seat, and perfectly willing to go along with whatever the night’s plan might be. Sean blazed through two marathon sets, performing and reading from his new chapbooks by turns, and only coming up for air once during a remarkable extended feature set. We may never have sent a poet this prolifically prepared to the Individual World Poetry Slam: Sean heads to Phoenix to compete next week, but you can hit him up for a chapbook to catch up on at least half of last night’s set before he goes.

TONIGHT: don’t forget that it’s the first Thursday of the month, folks! That means it’s time for Moonlighting, our LGBTQ-everyone-friendly monthly reading. Tonight’s feature is the superbly awesome Janae Johnson.

Next week, of course, we’re back at the Cantab on a Wednesday. We’ll welcome Pushcart Prize-winner Ocean Vuong to the stage, and fire up the scorecards for another open poetry slam.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Running a slam in Boston has always meant a lot of transition for the Cantab; poets come to the city for two, or four, or five years, make their mark on the community, and then depart for the next phase of their lives. It can be easy to focus most on the voices we miss, and the new voices we hope to make their mark… But there are plenty of folks whose constant presence help bolter our reading and make the greater community what it is. One of those NorthBEAST favorites featured for us last night: Slam Free or Die native and two-time Boston Poetry Slam Team member Mckendy Fils-Aimé. True to form, Mckendy showed off his performance chops and his famed penchant for short and formal work, reading from a so-limited-it’s-already-gone chapbook he produced just for this show. Best of all, you can catch Mckendy at our show on the open mic in coming weeks, as well as weekly at the Manchester slam, where he hosts, books, and runs a Saturday workshop at UNH. Lucky us!

Trying their luck in the slam after Mckendy’s feature were six poets, all hot for the ten-dollar prize and a shot at the upcoming Champion of Champions slam at the end of October. A hotly contested finals came down to Lesley poet Maps for Teeth editor Jess Riz versus another of New Hampshire’s vital organizer poets, Emily Eastman! Emily took the win and the super-lucrative cash prize, and earns a welcome back later in the fall.

Next week: World Qualifier Champion and Individual World Poetry Slam rep for the BPS Sean Patrick Mulroy will be our feature. Sean’s got extra time to stretch out an extended feature, so there’s no slam; cover charge will be $5 to help send Sean to Phoenix for the October 8 IWPS comp, plus you might want to pack a few extra bucks to pick up his newest chapbook. See you there!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It was a heady night at the Cantab last night, folks, as Star Trek and Star Wars fans waged a war to be remembered for all eternity… Or at least until the galactically strong drinks wear off. Producer and idea-man Nathan Comstock tempted sixteen poets down the stairs into our wretched hive of booze and poetry, where each hoped that perhaps tonight would be a good night to slam. Slam co-host Adam Stone had produced two outrageously deadly drinks– the untenable Death Star and the similarly unfinishable Kobayashi Maru, both terrible yet popular ideas that decidedly reveal more about their creator than about those willing to engage– and a highly focused bar crowd settled in to lend their forebodingly un-pointy ears to the competitors.

Highlights of the night included Sean Patrick Mulroy’s “(It’s a) Traptych;” Sue Savoy’s local trouble with tribbles; Jade Sylvan’s on-board Enterprise slash fiction; and Kieran Collier’s desperate plea for legitimacy for The Phantom Menace– which was subsequently dissected by his own teammate, Ellyn Padme m*****f****** Amidala Touchette. However, infighting aside, Star Wars managed to take the win 5-2, bullseyeing the Trekkies like womp rats in Beggar’s Canyon. Look out, Disney, here we come!

Special thanks go to our hard-working celebrity judges for the night, of course, as well as whoever drank enough at the bar to give the Star Trek their consolation win for the night: the Kobayashi Maru outsold the Death Star 14-4.

Next Wednesday, we’ll be back, of course, with less strife, but all the intellectual character development; our feature will be Manchester’s Mckendy Fils-Aimé, all-star New England favorite, followed by an open poetry slam. See you there, poetry nerds!

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