Cantab Recap for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yup, we’ve been waiting for Geoff Kagan Trenchard to come back to the Cantab for almost three years, and it was totally worth the wait. This Juris Doctor Candidate took a tiny break from his life as a student to school us on proper storytelling, fine-tuned word choice, and impeccable stage presence.

To close the night, our final speed slam in the 8×8 series only had four takers… Which meant a good chance of winning the ten bucks at the end of the night, right? Well, whatever you might have thought your chances are, you would have gotten beat by either Meaghan Ford or Emily Carroll on their way to the finals! Slamming all on page, Emily took the high cumulative score in the first two rounds and a victory in the final one-minute round, which puts her in in the sweet spot in next week’s Champion of Champions match.

That’s right: next week, we invite the past eight slam winners back to the show for an all-champs speed slam and a chance to take down reigning champ Sean Patrick Mulroy. But first, we’ll knock their confidence down a few notches by bringing an awesome published slammer to the stage. Get ready to welcome Hieu Minh Nguyen, Write Bloody author and thoughtful man of craft, on his visit to balmy Boston from chilly Minnesota.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Finally, finally, finally! After a short and sweet spotlight from the much-missed April Ranger, on the just-about-one-year anniversary of the birth of the famous “Ed! Ed! Ed!” chant, the awesomely cynical and tenderly heartbreaking Ed Wilkinson took the stage for a full set of all-new work. Ed took us on an astronomical, mathematical, and (surprise!) personal journey in a set of linked poems unveiled especially for this night. What a beautiful, honest, and emotional journey; we mark ourselves lucky to call Ed our own on so many Wednesday nights.

The speed slam was short a couple of poets, with just a six-person roster competing for the ten-dollar prize, but we enjoyed some great moments throughout, including a shining introduction to long-time Mill City poet Ricky Ormg. The night’s big winner, though, was Nathan Comstock, who grabs one of the last three spots for the 2014 World Qualifier Speed Slam next month.

Coming up next week: charismatic slam veteran Geoff Kagan Trenchard returns for his first feature back since 2010! The speed slam to close the night will be the last in this 8×8 series.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, April 2, 2014

National Poetry Month at the Cantab started with a bang last night, poetry fans! Or maybe we mean: a cannon boom, a wicked bass beat, and a couple of writing hands’ worth of cracking knuckles. Our open mic readers came prepared with really excellent work to celebrate the season, highlighted by Cameroon-via-D.C. poet and professional hugger Pages Matam, who dropped a short set on the open mic and shared his work from God Circus with an enthusiastic crowd.

Our feature, Khary Jackson, then took the stage for a complete and mind-blowing set: with a few songs accompanied by his own looped cello, and a few more powerful vocal solos, Khary showed off his musical, theater, and writing chops in a room hanging on his every word and note. Although he didn’t have his latest book with him to vend, you can purchase the brand-new Any Psalm You Want online at his publisher, Write Bloody.

Lastly, we had a rip-roaring six competitors for the slam, a full half of which just may have been from north of north of the border! In a statistically likely showdown, the last round came down to two rising Maine performers: Robin Merrill’s deadpan demeanor carried her all the way to the one-minute finals, but the intense (and intensely fashionable, yes, really) Ellyn Touchette took the victory and the ten dollars. What a hot night!

With spring in the air, of course, it’s only going to get hotter in our little basement. Don’t miss the show next week when our outgoing Team Selection Slam Champion and ultra-loveable cynic Ed Wilkinson takes the stage for a long-overdue feature. We’ll close the night with the penultimate slam in our 8×8 speed slam series

And don’t forget, of course, about our first Thursdays reading, Moonlighting! Our April show features Jha-D Williams of the famous If You Can Feel It, You Can Speak It reading, kicking off at 7:00 p.m. at Fazenda Coffee Roasters in JP.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Congratulations to the 2014 Boston Poetry Slam Team, officially selected at Finals last night: Janae Johnson, Omoizele Okoawo, Sean Patrick Mulroy, Meaghan Ford, and Melissa Newman-Evans!

The 2014 Boston Poetry Slam Team (clockwise from upper left): top scorer Janae Johnson, Sean Patrick Mulroy, Omoizele Okoawo, Meaghan Ford, Melissa Newman-Evans. Photo by Marshall Goff.

The 2014 Boston Poetry Slam Team (clockwise from upper left): top scorer Janae Johnson, Sean Patrick Mulroy, Omoizele Okoawo, Meaghan Ford, Melissa Newman-Evans. Photo by Marshall Goff.

We’d have given you a spoiler alert, Cantab fans, but we know that with so many folks live-tweeting, Facebooking, and probably making high-stakes non-cash bets all over this slam, the fans at home probably knew the official count before some of the audience in the bar. Congratulations to the team, and thanks to Marshall Goff for some sweet photos of the fab five that will be repping us in Oakland, California at this August’s National Poetry Slam!

We’ll have a full play-by-play recap for you as the photos start to roll in, of course. In the meantime, here’s the final standings after three cumulative rounds:

  1. Janae Johnson 85.0
  2. Omoizele Okoawo 84.2
  3. Sean Patrick Mulroy 83.1
  4. Meaghan Ford 82.3
  5. Melissa Newman-Evans 82.0
  6. Mckendy Fils-Aimé
  7. Bobby Crawford
  8. Marshall Gillson
  9. Michael Monroe

Obviously, five team members means four heartbreaks, and it still smarts to have to let go of Mckendy, Bobby, Marshall, and Michael. These guys each brought remarkable, beautiful, and important work to the stage… And we also heard a rumor that they are all in the running for other NorthBeast slam teams in Manchester, Providence, and elsewhere (see our links to the right for details on those slams). We wish their competitors good luck, because they are sure going to need it in order to stand up to the powerful work these guys are slinging!

Lastly, we would be remiss if we did not thank our five HARDCORE judges, who lasted three tough rounds of wicked competitive work. Congrats to Kelsey and Dennis on their questionable anniversary, to Corey on his daughter’s intellectual and artistic development at Brown, to Ryan for being the only judge brave/foolish enough to volunteer, to Ally for arriving exactly on time for the toughest job of the season, and for Ginny who is absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, qualified to judge a poetry slam.

Now: wave goodbye to March’s lion tail, folks, and get ready to greet the cruel, cruel (figurative) wasteland that is National Poetry Month! That’s right, April has arrived, and with it the riot of blossoms that is Khary Jackson‘s poetry. He’ll be in town as next week’s feature on April 2, followed by a 3-2-1 speed slam that’s open to the first eight to sign up. Hooray!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What a week it’s been so far at the Boston Poetry Slam. After a rollicking, hilarious show at the Encyclopedia Show on Monday (don’t forget to check out our season finale on April 21, by the way), we had just a day to recover before preparing for a visit from our very favorite president ever, Scott Woods! Scott trekked all the way from Columbus, Ohio, to explain why is still a librarian, what kind of student would steal your Nina Simone CD but not your vodka, and how the problem, actually, is not the watermelon.

You can get Scott’s book, We Over Here Now, online at Brick Cave Books… Or grab one in person tonight (Thursday, March 20) at his Slam Free or Die show in Manchester. You also can thank BPS official photographer Rich Beaubien for a few of these cool shots he took of Scott last night:

Speaking of Manchester: how many nights a week does SFoD workshopper and BPS 2013 team member Ed Wilkinson do poetry, anyway? Last night, Ed took the speed slam after a crazy tie in the one-minute round over Lowell’s own King of the North, the villanelle-loving Nathan Comstock. (If you missed out on the show, by the way, you can make it up to Ed by joining him for his Cantab feature on April 9.)

So ends our last open slam of March… Which means that next week must be THE BOSTON POETRY SLAM TEAM SELECTION FINALS! Excuse our volume: that’s just a little bit like the sound of nine poets checking the mic at once in preparation for our three-round zero-elimination slam next week. At the end of the night, the top five poets remaining will represent the Boston Poetry Slam at the 2014 National Poetry Slam! Remember, it’s a $5 cover to help us get all the way to Oakland this year, so pack a sawbuck and a slam-newbie friend and come out to help us select the team next Wednesday.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cambridge started off this past Wednesday with an unseasonably warm morning, which became an unreasonable snowstorm later that night (it’s New England spring, aren’t we just supposed to be drowning in mud right now?)… But in between, the excellent and hard-working Zeke Russell put his own stamp on the March day. Despite missing our collegiate friends at CUPSI, the house was packed to hear the introspective tales of Zeke’s life journey so far, taking on the challenges of icy Central Maine, the self-reflection of life in the Mill City, and the secret societies of Chicago and beyond. Zeke has three great books that you can only get from him directly: and the best place to do that is next Thursday, March 20, at the New Sh!t Show, a celebration of all-new poetry! Zeke will be hosting the event at Fazenda in JP (same location and times as our monthly Moonlighting show).

And, as if having Zeke do a full set for us wasn’t enough to satisfy, the night was capped off by an all-star packed speed slam. This one marks the halfway point in the current 8×8 series and it leaves just five slams left to get in on the World Qualifier… Interested parties for future slams may have to slam off against a rising Andrew Campana, who made the finals in his first appearance in the competition but ultimately lost the crown to Mill City veteran Princess Chan. Yowza!

There’s a ton of good work happening next week, folks, so spend your weekend getting pumped: we’ll be starting out on Monday in Davis Square at the Encyclopedia Show: Explorers, with poems by Tom Slavin, Nora Meiners, Katharine S-H, Claudia Wilson, and visiting DC poet Judson Lewis. Then we’ll get learned on Wednesday at the Cantab by We Over Here Now author Scott Woods from Columbus. See you there!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What a sweet Wednesday at the Cantab, folks: we kicked off with a wicked good open mic with a ton of first-timers! Hope we get to see these folks again… But we have a feeling they’ll be back after the dynamite feature from Jeanann Verlee; Jeanann took us on a no-introductions, no-apologies tour of boundary-setting, bitterness and beauty, all backed by three lovely books. If you missed your chance to grab a copy of Racing Hummingbirds tonight, you can visit her at the Urbana Slam in NYC, or get your copy straight from Write Bloody Publishing here.

We also got to witness a pretty sweet reunion in the venue as well: official BPS photographers Rich Beaubien and Marshall Goff were both on hand to capture some photos of this top-notch performer. We’ll post a little gallery below, but you can also visit Marshall’s photography Facebook page or Rich’s official site (due for relaunch soon!) to see more of these artists’ work.

Next week, by the way, our feature will be Zeke Russell, who celebrated his long-overdue booking by defeating Kieran Collier in the final round of the slam last night! Zeke’s one of our favorite poets and a devoted organizer to boot; we hope you’ll join us for a full feature from this talented and hard-working artist.

Photo Recap for February 19, 2014: Team Selection Semi-Finals

Did you miss the Team Selection Semi-Finals just a few weeks ago? No worries: Finals is coming up at the end of the month and you can see nine of your favorite poets that Wednesday in a fight for the top five…

Oh, I’m sorry, you wanted a visual refresher? No problem! Here are some awesome photos from semi-finals night, courtesy of one of our official BPS photographers, Marshall Goff. Enjoy!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Our slammin’ February has at last drawn to a close, folks: from the world-class stylings of Porsha Olayiwola to the lowbrow hijinks of Adam Stone’s Erotic Box of Doom to the pace-setting Boston Poetry Slam Team Selection Semi-Finals, it has been blazingly hot in here all month. This past Wednesday was no exception, as we prepared the CUPSI Warm-Up to send off our local favorites to the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, the collegiate nationals-level competition, that kicks off in Boulder, Colorado in just a few short weeks.

The slam was a rollicking ride of fresh ideas and slam standards, polished work and rawly sincere performance; we kicked off the show with sacrifices from Lesley College’s Jess Riz and UMass Boston’s Eddy Martinez, who set the bar for art and prepped those not yet in the know for the Cantab’s famously low-scoring judges. Berklee’s Will Lynch kicked in the door of this five-team match for the first round with the first of what would be many poems investigating the theme of privilege; his score stood tall for a first-round effort, but Simmons College took a huge lead from the center of round one with a three-woman group piece laying out How to Cry in Public in Five Easy Steps taking a huge early lead by a full two points. Harvard closed the round with a memorable meta-aware group piece that rattled the audience’s perceptions (but not the judge’s scorecards) and led to a quick shuffle for the next round’s rotation.

Rounds two and three featured even lower scores as the judges showed a total disregard for each other’s opinions; Allison Truj from Emerson was probably the most glaring example of the judges’ strife, with a measured narrative Recipe for Cooking Your Past that netted a score spread 4.2 between high and low! Despite strong efforts from Northeastern’s Franco Tort in round two and Emerson’s Sierra Lister in round three, top honors in each round went to Berklee’s Josh Elbaum, who shared a brief analysis of flippant humor, and Harvard’s unusual and ambiguous three-voice group piece on Trying to Explain the Sun.

To open the final round, high-scoring Harvard found themselves following their own poem, with a dogged Emerson team not far behind; the unassuming Jonathan Mendoza took the high score of that round with a deadpan explanation on How to Conceal a Boner garnering big laughs from the crowd and resulting in a different team taking the high in each of the four rounds. Simmons followed with a two-voice piece addressing the highly influential Walter White, with Berklee bringing the heavy in the form of Summer Rhoades’ Alcohol Timeline for Privileged Youth. Open mic favorite Austin Hendricks closed the night for Northeastern with an earnest analysis of the chill of space.

At the end of four rounds, Simmons’ commanding lead held strong, giving them the big win for the evening and bragging rights for another year. Emerson’s marathon-not-a-sprint strategy paid off in the form of a three-tenth margin for second place, with cross-town rivals Berklee just under a point behind. The crowd favorites from Harvard University finished a respectable fourth, with the slammers from Northeastern rounding out the field with high! fives! all around for their first-time effort as a collegiate team.

What a super night from our five local colleges and universities: our biggest and bestest thanks to all the poets and coaches who took the time to speak to our crowd, all in the name of prepping for CUPSI 2014 just a few short weeks from now. Outbound students: don’t forget that you’ve still got one more Wednesday between now and then, though, with our world-famous open mic and the intensely fabulous Jeanann Verlee as our feature. Hope to see everyone there!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Just a quick recap here, folks, while we wait for cool photos to come in from this slam! Last Wednesday marked the semi-final round of the Team Selection Slams, wherein twelve poets battled for the last nine spots in the March 26 Finals. At the end of the night, our final finishers were:

1. Bobby Crawford 54.3
2. Janae Johnson 54.1
3. Meaghan Ford 53.8
4. Sean Patrick Mulroy 53.8
5. Marshall Gillson 53.7
6. Omoizele Okoawo 52.7
7. Mckendy Fils-Aimé 52.5
8. Melissa Newman-Evans 52.3
9. Michael Monroe 51.5

10. Princess Chan
11. Sierra Lister

12. Allison Truj

Poets in bold are invited to advance and those in italics are offered a sacrifice spot.

This Wednesday (that’s just about right now) we return with more February slam: this time, we’ll offer the CUPSI Warm-Up, a five-team slam to help warm up our local favorites to head to collegiate nationals in Boulder. Come see Emerson College, the Berklee College of Music, Simmons College, Harvard University, and Northeaster University slam off for nationals-buond practice and local bragging rights!

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