Cantab Recap for Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sure, it might not seem like a sold-out show and an open mic that fills by 7:30 is a slow night at the Cantab, but it’s worth remembering: the wildly popular months of September and October are approaching quickly, so you might join the regulars in being thankful for a little late-August elbow room downstairs at the show. This past Wednesday, a short-form-heavy open mic rocked the stage in time for an intimate feature from Ann Arbor’s Scott Beal. Scott read and performed from his latest book, Wait ‘Til You Have Real Problems (Dzanc Books), drawing us into the woods and back, shaking up our natural sensibilities, and making forlorn but clever octopuses of us all.

The first slam of the new series was a six-man affair, culminating in a pitched battle between Ed Wilkinson’s maybe-weirdest-ever slammed poem and Marshall Gillson’s no-holds-barred off-stage performance of his final piece. Marshall took the win, qualifying this 2015 Boston Poetry Slam Team member for the 2016 team slams nice and early.

Next week: poems on poems on poems! On Wednesday, the Cantab will hear from regular Tom Daley, launching his new book, House You Cannot Reach, and the open poetry slam 8×8 will continue with the second slam in the series. Plus, we’ll celebrate September at Moonlighting on Thursday with Jasmin Roberts, Noho powerhouse poet. Yes!

Tips from the Bar: School Daze

Write a poem about a schoolteacher you hated. Analyze: were they right about you?

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, August 26, 2015: Scott Beal

Scott Beal, Ann Arbor poet and educator.

Scott Beal, Ann Arbor poet and educator.

Scott Beal’s first full-length collection, Wait ‘Til You Have Real Problems, was published by Dzanc Books in November 2014. His poems have appeared recently in Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Beloit Poetry Journal, Muzzle, Southern Indiana Review, Sonora Review, and the 2014 Pushcart Prize anthology. Scott teaches in the Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan and serves as Dzanc Writer-in-Residence at Ann Arbor Open School. He co-authored Jangle the Threads with Rachel McKibbens and Aracelis Girmay (Red Beard Press, 2010) and Underneath: The Archaeological Approach to Creative Writing with Jeff Kass (Red Beard Press, 2011).

Scott has competed in the Individual World Poetry Slam and has been a featured performer at schools, bookstores, and poetry slams around the country, including the Green Mill in Chicago, the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe in New York, and the Cantab Lounge in Boston. He curates and co-hosts the Skazat! monthly poetry series in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he plays cards and watches Adventure Time with his two daughters.

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, August 19, 2015

Welcome back, Cantabbers! And welcome back to our team, who returned home gloriously intact from the National Poetry Slam to take up their poems in the open mic and slam once again. The team placed a respectable 24th out of 72… And had the opportunity to support, in-person, NPS Finalist Melissa Newman-Evans (competing for Denver in her first post-Cantab NPS) and the Boston’s first championship team since 1993: HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to our across-the-river friends-and-rivals, The House Slam!

Our feature following the rambunctious NPS week was the similarly intense Sam Mercer: this Portland, Maine native put on all his voices to take us in (way in) to the grayest and greenest parts of depression, humor, sobriety, and breakfast. Welcome home, Sam; come hang with the Cantab’s listeners any time.

The evening closed with the only-slightly-misnamed Champion of Champions slam, hosted by outgoing champ Sean Patrick Mulroy. With Sean stepping down to move to his MFA program, the six qualified slammers found themselves fighting for any slim chance at taking over the title; the finals came down to relative newcomer and crowd favorite Christian vs. a hot-off-the-NPSes Mckendy Fils-Aimé. Mckendy took the win and the season championship title: he’ll have to wait for another season champ (who’ll be crowned on October 21) for his chance at the now-vacant Champion of Champions title.

Next week: open slams start again to qualify for that very special title bout. Oh, and of course: our feature will be the most excellent Scott Beal, published poet and teacher from Ann Arbor.

Tips from the Bar: Simple Title Prompt

The title for your prompted poem: “A Cure for Loneliness.”

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, August 19: Sam Mercer and the Champion of Champions Slam

Portland poet Sam Mercer. Photo by Chris Clauss.

Portland poet Sam Mercer. Photo by Chris Clauss.

Sam Mercer is a Portland-based poet who writes about complicated things like addiction, depression, and home in the simplest ways he can. He has competed with the Port Veritas slam three times, twice on their national team and once at the Individual World Poetry Slam, and once with Slam Free or Die on their national team. Sam believes that poetry has been a large part of his life and sobriety and hopes to continue giving back to his communities in any way that he can. His work can be found in Drunk in a Midnight Choir and the True Port Anthology. He likes bad movies, uranium, and smoking too many cigarettes for someone with a basically nervous disposition.

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 replace the outgoing Champion of Champions Sean Patrick Mulroy.

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.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What’s better: assuming that the Cantab-powers-that-be totally knew it was World Elephant Day upon booking Jess Rizkallah’s feature? Or imagining that it was just the wildest, sweetest, luckiest, most synchronicity-stuffed feature selection in the calendar? Holy ker-wow, the brilliant and vulnerable and ass-kicking and, yes, elephant-invoking Jess Riz brought the house down at the Cantab last night, hauling us through all the bittersweets of family and love and gynecology and death, then releasing us to the shooting stars of the mid-August night. So proud to call her part of our Cantab community!

After the feature: okay, after Jess sold approximately one million books, we squeezed in the very last slam in the current 8×8 series. After some powerful match-ups and some squeaky-tight victories, the final round was Brenda vs. Meaghan Ford, two women with nothing to prove but surely with ten dollars to gain. An unofficially-themed We-Love-Love-Except-When-We-Hate-Love finale ended up with Meaghan on top, earning her the cash, the champions callback, and a berth in the 2016 Team Selection Preliminaries.

(Meanwhile, across the country in Oakland… The 2015 Boston Poetry Slam team was battling their way to a hard-fought 2-spot in their prelim 4×4 vs. SNO, Omaha, and Swag. Word on the street is that everyone nailed their poems and they gave the two-time previous NPS champs a great run for their money! So: it’s a great start, but they’ll need to win their bout tonight against Fuze, Humboldt, and Vancouver for a chance of making semi-finals. Those invested may choose to obsessively refresh the scores here for the team’s bout at 9pm PST.)

Next week: Sam Mercer comes to town from Portland, high off the National Poetry Slam and also, Facebook assures us, a pretty cool new hairdo. Sam’s feature will be followed by the much-anticipated Champion of Champions Slam, hosted by reigning champ Sean Patrick Mulroy. See you there!

Tips from the Bar: The Sochi 2015 Prompt

Write about the worst place you’ve ever slept, and how it affects your dreams.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, August 12, 2015: Jess Rizkallah

Jess Rizkallah, local favorite. Photo by Katlyn Benson.

Jess Rizkallah, local favorite. Photo by Katlyn Benson.

Jess Rizkallah is a Lebanese-American writer, illustrator, and coffee slinger living in Boston. She graduated from Lesley University, edits Maps For Teeth magazine, and publishes zines and chapbooks at pizza pi press. Her work has recently been published by Word Riot, Electric Cereal, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Spoken & Sung, and her mother’s fridge. Talk to her about whales.

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, August 5, 2015

You wanted hit slam favorites? You wanted new surprises? You wanted a surreal group piece, heartstring twang after heartstring twang, and a surprise cover to finish the night? You got it, Cantab! Our team brought the fire and the craft to their one-hour set last Wednesday, and we are so proud to have them representing us at this year’s National Poetry Slam. Good luck in Oakland, Mckendy, Marshall, Bobby, Sophia, & Sean!

(Looking to see how the team is doing at Nationals, or to follow your other NorthBEAST favorites? Check out scores.poetryslam.com: the Boston Poetry Slam team bouts in #18 at 7pm PST on Wednesday and in #36 at 9pm PST on Thursday.)

This week, while the team’s away: we’ll hear from the sometimes-playful, sometimes-seriously, always densely thoughtful Jess Rizkallah! And, yes: the night will finish with an open poetry slam, just in time to qualify the winner for the Atlanta-bound 2016 Boston Poetry Slam team.

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