The Boston Poetry Slam and the House Slam Present: THE GRUDGE MATCH, March 30, 2017

OBERON in Harvard Square welcomes the Third Annual Grudge Match on March 30, 2017!

OBERON in Harvard Square welcomes the Third Annual Grudge Match on March 30, 2017!


THE GRUDGE MATCH: House Slam vs. Boston Poetry Slam
Thursday, March 30, 2017
OBERON, 2 Arrow St. in Harvard Square, Cambridge
6:30pm doors, 7pm openers, 8pm-10pm poetry slam
18+, $12/advance or $15/door (click for tickets)
click for Facebook event


Get ready for the biggest National Poetry Month event of 2017! The House Slam @ the Haley House Bakery Cafe and the Boston Poetry Slam @ the Cantab Lounge are proud to present the third annual GRUDGE MATCH POETRY SLAM between the two venues.

On Thursday, March 30, 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. Poets from each team will use all the tricks of their trade— lyricism, comedy, political fury, and straight-up heartfelt personal narrative— to impress rowdy audience and all-star judges in the heart of Harvard Square!

The slam will be hosted by Emily Eastman and JR Mahung, with fabulous openers: comedian Wes Hazard, musical artist Artist: Black Venus, and hip-hop sensation Oomp Will! Our all-star no-holds-barred American-Idol-style judges will include notable poetry persons Alex Charalambides, Olivia Gatwood, and Jha D.

ANNOUNCING THE TEAMS FOR THIS YEAR’S MATCH:
* Simone Beaubien (BPS) vs. Porsha Rashidaat J. Olayiwola (HHS): (sacrifice round)
* Zeke Russell vs. Erich Haygun
* Rebecca Lynn vs. Jonathan Mendoza
* Evan Jymaal Cutts vs. Marshall Gripp Gillson
* Kye Noelle vs. Zenaida Peterson
* John Pinkham vs. Claudia Wilson
* Jess Rizkallah vs. Emmanuel Oppong-Yeboah
* Neiel Israel vs. Sam Rush

Tickets are $12 in advance/$15 at the door (see above for ticketing link). All proceeds will support the two slams’ trips to the 2017 National Poetry Slam in Denver, Colorado.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, March 29, 2017: Team Selection FINALS

The Cantab’s Team Selection Slams are the venue’s biggest, wildest poetry slams of the year. The venue’s late-winter selection is one of the earliest in the country, which gives them extra time to prepare for this year’s National Poetry Slam in Denver, Colorado this August.

The top poets from semi-finals qualified to advance to the show. Due to ties, eleven poets have qualified to slam in the following order in the first round:
1. Zeke Russell
2. John Pinkham
3. Kieran Collier
4. Austin Hendricks
5. Em Taylor
6. Adam Stone
7. Kylie Noelle
8. Mckendy Fils-Aimé
9. Allison Truj
10. Neiel Israel
11. Brandon Melendez
sacrificial poets: Ron Prudent, Zenaida Peterson

RebeccaLynn, poet, bartender, regular, and uncompromising learner.

RebeccaLynn, poet, bartender, regular, and uncompromising learner.

Our long slam tonight means a special show schedule! After a very short open mic, the first round of the slam will begin, after which we will hold a short intermission.

After the intermission, around 9:30 p.m., spotlight poet RebeccaLynn will take the stage for a short (unscored!) spotlight set. RebeccaLynn is a student, poet, and angry bartender. Her art primarily focuses on her own navigation through life as a queer black woman. While applying philosophical concepts her art, her goal is to question what we know through her poems, and wants others to do the same. Get your drinks before the spotlight, since our bartender will be on stage! After the spotlight, our second and third rounds will take the stage (and, yes, the bar will begin pouring once again).

After three previous slams in the last two months, already requiring four pieces to slam plus a brand new poem, you can expect hot competition, tense strategic moves, and the most finely-polished performance work of the slam season. The top five poets at the end of the evening (no ties accepted!) will comprise the 2017 Boston Poetry Slam Team.

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 first round of the slam begins thereafter; a short break will follow with the final two rounds of the slam taking place around 9:30. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $5; proceeds will go toward funding the team’s trip to the National Poetry Slam this August.

Cantab Recap for March 8, 15, 22, and a Look Ahead

Poetry listeners! It’s been a long, strange, wonderful March, one of our rare five-Wednesday months. Thanks for sticking with us through rain, premature spring, blizzard, and some intense poetry slams for the past three weeks. But wait: there are TWO more shows coming up before we even get to National Poetry Month.

First: we are soooooo close to selecting our 2017 Boston Poetry Slam Team. This Wednesday, March 29, we’ll have a record eleven finalists vying for the coveted five spots on this year’s squad. That’s a lot of poems, so we’ll be breaking up our three-round slam with an early-evening intermission and a spotlight feature from local favorite (and March 8 slam winner) RebeccaLynn. Remember, it’s a $5 cover and a very short open mic, so come early and get your seat, or risk waiting outside the sold-out show and hope for a spot to open for you to come in around 10:00.

And next: on Thursday, March 30, we’ll be welcomed back to Oberon in Harvard Square for the first time in two years for the Third Annual Grudge Match. This show’s got a truly remarkable line-up, featuring your favorites from House and Cantab, plus spotlights from comedian Wes Hazard and newly crowned WOWPS co-champ Oomp Will. It’s only $12 for advance tickets ($15 at the door), and it’s sold out 100% for previous shows, so you might want to get your tickets today!

Looking back over the month, an overdue thanks is surely due to our double-feature from March 8, Raena Shirali and David Winter, two excellent OSU poets on tour together. Congratulations also to our fabulous CUPSI teams, Chicago-bound in just a few short weeks, and especially big ups to the team from Simmons College, who came out on top at our March 15 Cupsi Warm-Up battle! And, lastly, we wish good health and good vibes to Deonte Osayande, who had to cancel his March 22 feature with us for personal reasons… Instead, we can look back on a remarkably successful slapdash CUPSI coaches’ slam, with the big win going to Zenaida Peterson from (where else) Simmons, who eliminated Northeastern coach Emmanuel Oppong-Yeboah in the final round.

Remember: TWO major shows coming up this week, folks. Get those under your belt and you’ll be the most ready for National Poetry Month… You know there are four more Cantab shows coming for April, right? Check it all out on our updated schedule, and can’t wait to see you there.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, March 22, 2017: CUPSI Coaches’ Slam (CANCELED: Deonte Osayande)

For personal reasons, Deonte Osayande has had to cancel the New England leg of his tour. We wish him the very best and hope to welcome him back when he is ready to reschedule.

Our show this evening will instead feature an invitational slam for local CUPSI coaches. In the house: Zenaida Peterson (Simmons), Emmanual Oppong-Yeboah (Northeastern), JR Mahung (Northeastern), Allison Truj (Emerson), and Tim Hall (Berklee).

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


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.

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!

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