Cantab Recap for Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Some summer nights are just sweet enough to make the whole New England winter situation worth it, right? (Sorry to bring it up, but listen…) Nestled in between our two stormy summer slams on June 22 and July 6 was the beam of light known as Nicole Shantè, a Midwesterner by way of the South who’s spending a summer in nearby New York. Nicole brought beautifully crafted and delicately performed work to the stage, opening a series of small and focused windows on her life in the city, in her body, and behind her keyboard. The audience responded graciously to her perfect balance of power, gentleness, and humor, and we hope her chapbook-carrying backpack is oh-so-light on the way back to New York City.

After the feature, of course, we slam! A fifty-fifty split of determined regulars and polished out-of-towners hit the stage for a high-energy battle in the open slam. After a wild two rounds, the poets left standing were two first-time visitors to the venue, Zulynette and Sky Raven. In a highly performative finish, Sky Raven took the win over Zulynette; there were hugs all around, and we look forward to more visits from these southern northerners.

Next week: that thunder you hear rumbling in the distance is our second NorthBEAST Regional team slam, a four-team extravaganza designed to get our local teams warmed up (and fired up) for the National Poetry Slam. Our home team will take on poets from Mill City Slam in Lowell, Seven Hills Slam in Worcester, and, on a return bid after their win on June 22, the House Slam from just across the river in Boston. $5 cover for a bout that (let’s face it) will be better than most of what you’d be lucky to see at NPS. Yeah, we said it: NorthBEAST! Come on out!

Tips from the Bar: Double Bonus Heckle Prompt

Write about a time you accidentally heckled someone.

OR write your response to a time you were heckled.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, June 29, 2016: Nicole Shantè

Nicole Shanté, Midwestern poet, editor, and educator. Photo by Dionne Hills.

Nicole Shanté, Midwestern poet, editor, and educator. Photo by Dionne Hills.

Nicole Shantè is a silent cacophony. The quiet one yo mama warned you about. Nicole’s work encompasses her experiences as a queer womyn of color on a continuous journey of healing. She hates wearing shoes, loves pancakes with crispy edges, and is still trying to figure out when a handshake is more appropriate than a hug. She is a cluster of Midwest accents and Southern hospitality, but is currently residing on the east coast where she teaches dance, poetry, and social justice.

Nicole is also a Poets House Emerging Poet Fellow and a contributing staff writer for Sula Collective, an online magazine for and by people of color. She released her debut collection of poetry “for the necks my hips have broken” in 2013 and is exclusively distributing her limited edition chapbook “The Layover” at live shows.

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, June 22, 2016

And just like that, the longest day of the year AND the first summertime 4×4 team slam are both in the books! After sixteen poems in a wicked hot Nationals-style bout, the dust cleared to reveal the following scores:

    1. House Slam 113.4
    2. Boston Poetry Slam 110.3
    3. Northampton Poetry Slam 108.4
    4. Union Square Slam 107.6

Drawing the first spot in the slam proved to be no problem for the House Slam, reigning national champs, who jumped out to a commanding lead with the first poem of the night. Noho and the BPS were neck and neck in the first round, with Union Square leapfrogging up in the rankings in round two… With House well ahead in round three, the other three teams laid down poems separated by only 0.1 each, making it a three-team battle for second in the final rotation. With a strong showing to finish up, the Boston Poetry Slam captured second place, with Northampton closing out the competition big to take third place. That means the Best Poets Award for the night goes to Union Square, who not only traveled the furthest (all the way from NYC!), but also presented the only group piece of the night. A grand thanks to everyone who came out to slam and perform their hearts out, and a special hat tip to our crack hosting/managing team: Dawn Gabriel and Tom Slavin.

Loved watching this 4×4? If you can’t make it to the National Poetry Slam in Decatur this year, then you might want to mark the dates of our two remaining team slams: those will be July 6 and July 20, with a whole host of other visiting teams.

Next week: we’re back to our regular open mic, feature, and open slam schedule, with headliner Nicole Shantè from the Midwest bringing a full set to the heart of the night. See you there!

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, June 22, 2016: NorthBEAST Regional 4×4 Team Slam

BPS logo by Gary Hoare.

BPS logo by Gary Hoare.

With the National Poetry Slam just a few months away, it’s time to kick off our summer of slam! This year’s inaugural event will be a Nationals-style 4×4 match– meaning four teams in four rounds, the ultimate balanced format for a poetry battle of strategy, emotion, and wits. If you’re wondering what slam looks like at its highest level, this is it.

This first of THREE summertime 4x4s will pit four Nationals-bound teams against one another, including:

This show will have a slightly shortened open mic and will sell out in exactly two hot seconds, people, so we advise arriving for door time at 7:15 if you want to get in to catch the show… Otherwise you’ll be waiting until July 6 or July 20 for your next chance to see a 4×4 slam. Cover charge is $5 to help raise funds for our team to travel to Nationals in Decatur this August!

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 $5.

A Fond Farewell to the Final Encyclopedia Show!

On Thursday, June 9, the weirdos and art-lovers of Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston descended upon the Davis Square Theater one last time for the third-season finale of The Encyclopedia Show: Somerville. Whether they’d come to celebrate, commiserate, or just have a good time, the audience was warm and kind, as always!

For this finale, the Encyclopedia Show crew decided to do something a little different: all the artists who performed were directly affiliated with the show in some capacity. Whether it was Steve Subrizi, who was the show intern for seasons 1 and 2, or Wes Hazard, who has performed beautifully funny monologues for every Encyclopedia Show: Somerville to date, it was a big family reunion, and everyone in Boston was invited.

The evening’s theme was the Suburbs, and the artists did not disappoint in living up to it. Chloé Cunha, who co-hosted season 3, and Catherine Martin, who produced it, brought very personal poems to the stage– Catherine’s poem about A Wrinkle in Time was a quiet reminder that maybe the suburbs aren’t so bad after all, while Chloé’s expertly punny piece about trimming hedges and her attraction to women brought the house down. Steve Subrizi and the Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library each performed wonderfully entertaining songs they wrote just for this show. But the biggest musical surprise of the night was when host Rob Crean, who is a renowned comedian, sang a pop-punk ballad that seemed like it was written by A Simple Plan, but was actually composed by Mr. Crean himself! He sang it beautifully.

The plot of the final show was that hosts Rob and Chloé were retiring to collect the pensions owed to them by the Institute of Human Knowledge and Hygiene. In order to qualify for their pensions, the hosts needed to adhere to the rules set forth by the Institute, which were to make the show fit the 50’s suburban sensibilities that prevailed at the time the rules were written. Rob and Chloé’s plan fell apart in the third act, as it was revealed to them by Eddy Encyclopedia, the founder of the Encyclopedia Show (played brilliantly by Mathieu Cunha, who is also season 3’s Intern Mat) that the Institute’s pension fund is a fraud, and Rob and Chloé would receive no money. Luckily, Wes Hazard and Teacher Meg were there to cheer everyone up! Wes’s final performance for our show was heartwarming, as he told of his storied past as a giant nerd growing up in a Boston suburb. Teacher Meg returned to our show for one last hurrah, after being away all year; she reviewed all the topics that had been covered in season 3, mainly using a sleeping bag and a very nice audience member. Her set was glorious, and we were so happy to have had her.

The show closed with a video by Intern Mat, which showed what all of the cast members would be up to in 10 years. This video can be viewed at the Encyclopedia Show: Somerville YouTube page!

A special thanks to Jade Sylvan as Jack Van Sly, who did not have a whole lot to do in our final show, but who was a terrific sport and gave fantastic performances all season.

So what’s next for the The Encyclopedia Show: Somerville? For now, it’s HIBERNATION: nope, not a new theme, but a long winter’s respite. After three great seasons, the cast and staff are ready to pack it in… But with more encyclopedic themes out there, not to mention more truths to be truthed, the show has plenty of life left for a future reboot. Watch this space in coming seasons, but for now: farewell!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It’s been a tough week in the world, Cantabbers, and, once again, we are deeply relieved to have a community to come home to. Our open mic was thoughtful and extra-welcoming this week, and our feature, Brendan Constantine, really knocked it out of the park with a heartfelt, intelligent, funny, and impeccably performed set. If you didn’t get a chance to brave the outrageous line (!) (!!) to get his books, you can still find all his work over at his website. After the feature, our slam was an intimate affair with just five folks: newcomers Lihi and WLK the Poet faced off in the final round, with WLK taking the big win and the $10.

Next week: we kick off our Summer of Slam with our first 4×4 team match of the season! Nationals-bound slam teams from New York City, Northampton, and the House Slam in Boston will take on the home team in a highly competitive “friendly” to warm the teams up for the National Poetry Slam. Cover charge is $5 to help support your home teams’ trip to NPS in August.

Tips from the Bar: This Could Go Horribly Wrong

Consider all the objectifying, oversexed, or otherwise terrible poem permutations for the following title: “Ten Ways to Get in My Pants.”

Now write a good one.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, June 15, 2016: Brendan Constantine

West coaster and Red Hen author Brendan Constantine.

West coaster and Red Hen author Brendan Constantine.

Brendan Constantine’s work has appeared in FIELD, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, Muzzle, Hotel Amerika, and many other journals. His first book, Letters To Guns (2009 Red Hen Press), is now taught extensively in schools across the country. His most recent collections are Birthday Girl With Possum (2011 Write Bloody Publishing) and Calamity Joe (2012 Red Hen Press). His work has inspired artists in a variety of other mediums, from the canvas to the concert hall. Most recently, composer Andrew McIntosh released his first album, Hyenas in the Temples of Pleasure (Populist Records) which draws its themes (and title) from Constantine’s work. A new collection, Dementia, My Darling, is due out in 2016.

Mr. Constantine has received grants and commissions from the Getty Museum, James Irvine Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. A popular performer, Brendan has presented his work to audiences throughout the U.S. and Europe, also appearing on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” KPFK’s “Inspiration House,” numerous podcasts, and YouTube. In 2014 he headlined at the Dodge Poetry Festival with many of the nation’s most celebrated authors. He currently teaches poetry at the Windward School in Los Angeles, California. In addition, he regularly conducts workshops for hospitals, foster homes, and with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project. Please visit him at

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.

Annual Attleboro Arts Museum Poetry Slam: Friday, June 10, 2016

The 2016 Boston Poetry Slam Team. Photo by Marshall Goff.

The 2016 Boston Poetry Slam Team will compete against Seven Hills and Providence on June 10: pictured are Zeke, Neiel, Bobby, Mckendy, and Simone. Photo by Marshall Goff.

Friday, June 10, 2016
86 Park St., Attleboro, MA
6:30 sign-ups, 7:00 open mic, 7:45ish poetry slam
FREE show for all ages

more details at the Attleboro Arts Museum website

The Boston Poetry Slam has presented a free poetry slam in conjunction with the Attleboro Arts Museum annually since 2007! This year’s special event will feature the Boston Poetry Slam Team, the Providence Poetry Slam Team, the Seven Hills Slam from Worcester, and an open mic featuring YOU. As always, the show is held in the main room of the Museum at 86 Park St. in Attleboro, and the event is free of charge. This year’s event is made possible by funding from the Attleboro accounting firm Castro, Thresher and Oliviera, P.C.!

This year’s event will reprise the high-energy show format from 2015: an open mic for members of the Attleboro community and beyond will kick off the night. After the open mic, teams from the Boston Poetry Slam, the Providence Poetry Slam, and the Seven Hills Slam will go head-to-head-to-head in a performance poetry exhibition! These three freshly selected teams will be shaking out their metaphors in preparation for their trip to the National Poetry Slam in Decatur, Georgia this August.

The Attleboro Arts Museum is located at 86 Park St. in Attleboro, Mass., just a short walk from the Attleboro stop on the Providence/Boston line of the Commuter Rail. Signups for the open mic begin at 6:30pm, with the open mic starting at 7:00. A poetry slam featuring teams from Boston, Providence, and Worcester will begin at the end of the open mic, around 7:45. The show is all ages and admission is free.

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