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 scores.poetryslam.com. 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!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Did you guys notice that this week is back to school week? Back to Old School, we mean! Ha! No, seriously, Ryk McIntyre was in the house last night, in all his punny and funny-old-guy glory, and carrying his latest book from Sargent Press. If you missed him tonight, you can catch him at the Lowell reading on September 16, so mark your calendars!

Just as we always have, we closed the night with our head-to-head 8×8 slam. The final round came down to new kid Josh Elbaum vs. less-new-less-kid Zeke Russell; in an inspiring victory for cane-wielding poets everywhere, Zeke took the win, leaving Josh to slam another day.

Next week: we’re back in the swing of the school year with birthday poet Jade Sylvan (Jade’s birthday, not necessarily yours), and a special spotlight feature from UK punk legend John Cooper Clarke. Looking forward to welcoming everyone back for the fall!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Given our topsy-turvy schedule this month, plus our newly long-lost regulars, it was a great relief to offer a homecoming of sorts to April Ranger last night. On a short stop back in Boston from her new residence in NYC, April brought us a full set of nearly all new work, all of it deeply thoughtful and intensely presented. How good to see her back on her home stage; don’t be a stranger, poet!

Our house turned out a full open mic for April, as well as a full slam, split just about evenly between newcomers and veterans: one of the former, Sterling Higa, faced off against 2014 slam team member Meaghan Ford in a highly polished finals! Meaghan used her home field advantage to the fullest and took the win, but we’re glad to welcome Hawaii native Sterling to the venue with a great showing to start his season.

Next week: we’re back with a feature from 1991/2005 slam team member Ryk McIntrye and another open slam in the 8×8 series. The students are officially back in town, so remember to show up early if you want a seat or a spot on the open mic!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, August 20, 2014

As sad as we were here at the Cantab to hear that our original feature for this night had to cancel, we are even super sadder to recap that we spent the night waving goodbye to Alex Ehrhardt and Melissa Newman-Evans, both of whom took the feature slot that night to honor leaving the Cantab for parts not here. Alex opened up with a dense set of introspective, extropsective, and speculative work, punctuated by his signature no-banter banter; a three-year veteran of the open mic, Alex leaves us behind to return to his roots in upstate new York. The headlining feature was Melissa, whose many years of service behind the bar, on the open mic stage, and as a two-time National Poetry Slam semi-finalist for the Boston Poetry Slam all culminated in a solidly sweet and sad set, highlighted by her custom-mixed Bitter Farewell, available for one bitter, bitter night only. Melissa departs us for Denver, Colorado, where she joins partner Kevin Spak in their new life, no doubt returning to meet us at NPS on the enemy side of the bout. Harumph!

As though to spite both the departing poets, the slam was wicked great, full of wonderfulness and weirdness from eight hard-working performers, hosted by our by-the-book latest working girl, Tom Slavin. The final pairing came down to relative newcomer Alex Hicks against longtime Northbeaster Mckendy Fils-Aimé: Mckendy edged out the win by a margin, taking ownership of the ten dollars and the first spot in the World Qualifiers for 2015.

Next week: SCHEDULE CHANGE (again!). Once again, our scheduled poet had to cancel her trip to New England for family obligations. However, we couldn’t stand to say goodbye to anyone else… So we’ve booked much-missed one-time regular and host April Ranger, who’ll hop a train from NYC just to fill the slot. Excellent!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A pretty sweet night at the Cantab went down last Wednesday, folks: we got to celebrate the triumphant return of most of our top-twenty 2014 Boston Poetry Slam Team, a killer feature from Jacob Rakovan, and a field of very serious NPS-caliber poets duking it out for the chance to challenge reigning Champion of Champions Ellyn Touchette for the venue title.

An open mic packed with veterans (and new work!) got us started, definitely impressing our feature and Poetry and Pie co-curator Jacob Rakovan. Jacob took the stage for a full feature afterwards, bringing us work from his first full-length publication, The Devil’s Radio, as well as excerpts of his latest long-form work. Very nice! If you find yourself in upstate New York, don’t hesitate to look up Jacob and the monthly reading he helps run.

The big close-out for the night was a highly competitive Champion of Champions slam. Sometimes, the week after the National Poetry Slam, we see a little dip in how competitive our local poets are feeling… Not this year! Six top-notch poets showed up to fight for a shot at the title, all of them bringing highly polished work and playing off one another’s pieces in the slam. The final pairing for the season championship came down to Nora Meiners (returning from repping the Lizard Lounge at NPS) and Bobby Crawford (a returnee for Slam Free or Die). Bobby proved the judges’ favorite and decided to let it ride to the ultimate champion round, facing off with reigning champ Ellyn in an all-new-to-the-Cantab-stage round! Bobby took the championship on a tight decision between the judges, earning the title and the $100 prize. What a great show!

Next week: WE HAVE A SCHEDULE CHANGE. Our original bookings, Tova Charles and Zai Sadler, are unfortunately not able to make it to New England this week. On such short notice, we are super-sad about the double feature we booked to fill: we’ll be waving a permanent moving farewell to both Melissa Newman-Evans and Alex Ehrhardt this week, so the two will take the stage for a tearful and not even sarcastic farewell from them both. Hope to see you there!

Check out the Boston Poetry Slam Team in NPS 2014 Semi-Finals Tonight!

Congratulations to the 2014 Boston Poetry Slam Team, who qualified for the semi-finals of the National Poetry Slam tonight! The team took a 2 and a 1 in their prelim bouts and nailed down 14th place (out of 72); now they’re headed into semis against Elevated!, Inkwell, SNO, and Hawaii, with the sole winner headed to Finals Stage on Saturday night. Awesome job so far, Janae, Oz, Sean, Meaghan, and Melissa! Melt some faces with poetry tonight!

For those who want to follow along with the scores, click here after 11 p.m. eastern time on Friday, August 8, 2014.

(In further cool neighborhood news, congrats to the Lizard Lounge Poetry Slam Team as well, who will be slamming in a different semi-final bout tonight.)

You can check out the full top-20 Friday line-up by clicking here, or see the complete rankings after prelims at this link. Go team! Go NorthBEAST! Go poetry!

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