Cantab Recap For Wednesday, March 27th, 2024

Michael: Hey poetry fans! Have you recovered yet from our biggest Wednesday show of the past two years? Last week’s open mic had the return of old friends Gemma Cooper-Novack and Raechel Segal, a “secret agent trans” group piece from Meaghan Ford, Otto Vock, and Alex Kist, as well as great work from first-timers Ronnie G, Kayla S, Orion, and Kai B. But let’s get straight into the team selection finals slam recap! Our show curator Myles Taylor will take it from here.

Myles: This slam was so intense that I’ve decided to write the recap as a play-by-play, in homage to the tradition of live-tweeting or live-facebooking slams as they go. Each of these poets fought their asses off and I want to memorialize this slam in as much detail as I can.

Your sacs were Kat Anderson and Keaton Howl, two regular powerhouses you may remember from team preliminaries. Kat brought us an open mic favorite about their (lack of) oral history, and Keaton gave us a moving tribute to a past slam mentor. Their scores were 24.1 and 25.9 respectively, establishing our judges with a fairly Cantab-standard range of mid 7’s to low 9’s. 

Mary Schwabenland kicked us off with the emotional rollercoaster “Breaking Up With God,” and Logan Lopez followed with a gorgeous new poem about speaking Spanish to their friend’s new baby. Both poems scored in the same range as the sacs. Then, in the 3rd slot, Brynna Boyd came out with a new poem about a hole in her heart that blew the room open completely, rocketing the scores to a 28.7. Jennifer Martinez followed with her classic polished slam piece with its iconic opening, “Big Breasted Beauty,” hitting a .5 time penalty but garnering the only 10.0 of the night, establishing herself as a poet to contend with. Katya Zinn’s piece about sweeping broken glass and Kaitie Dilán’s poem about family, in the 5th and 6th slots, were .2 away from each other (25.9 and 26.1), while Sara H’s anger poem and Amy Argentar’s brand new piece about being a rebel scored an identical 24.9 in the 8th and 9th. In between those sets, past team member Aparna Paul set herself apart with Man Lies, scoring a 27.2 despite a .5 time penalty.

By the time the dust cleared after round one, Brynna Boyd and Aparna Paul had set themselves ahead of the pack with Jennifer Martinez in a good position behind them. The last two slots, however, were anyone’s game, and the intensity grew. Host Nayeli Wessel-Meadows performed a sorbet poem for us to reset the room and the slam resumed. Brynna started the round with “Louisiana Crab Shack,” a laugh-and-cry nuanced piece that scored high enough to mathematically guarantee her a spot on the team (yes, already!!)). Amy Argentar followed with an ode to Jeopardy (26.9) and Kaitie Dilán read a new piece involving trauma and cole slaw (26.1). Winning round two was Aparna Paul’s I Dream My Mother On Her Deathbed (which you can officially watch on Button Poetry! Go on, do it) with a 28.0, mathing her onto the team as well. Jennifer Martinez followed with a softer piece about depression and collected a 26.6, putting her in a leading position but not scoring high enough to guarantee her a slot. Round two was halfway over and the last three team spots could be snagged by anybody.

Logan’s poem about moving apartments and queer family warmed hearts and shed tears, getting a 27.1. Sara H’s ode to her cat Oreo, the he/him lesbian, was adored by the audience and resulted in both a 26.6 and probably my favorite photo from the slam (a good old fashioned muscle flex). At this point in the slam, Jennifer Martinez became officially mathed onto the team behind Brynna and Aparna.

In the penultimate slot, Mary Schwabenland – remember, from the 1st round? – impressed the judges with their ode to the Longfellow Bridge, raising scores to a 27.6. This bumped Mary’s final score above Jennifer’s, mathing Mary onto the team (from the 1!!!!!). This meant there was one slot left and one poet left – Kaitie Dilán was, at this time, positioned for 5th. Katya Zinn closed out the slam with some new shit – from their journal! – about the movements of worms, among other things. Katya got a 26.4, just enough to bump her into the 5th team slot by literally one tenth of a point. This was maybe one of the wildest things I’ve seen in slam and I am frankly still reeling. 

The final standings are as follows:

  1. Brynna Boyd – 56.1
  2. Aparna Paul – 55.2
  3. Mary Schwabenland – 53.4
  4. Jennifer Martinez – 53.1
  5. Katya Zinn – 52.3
  6. Kaitie Dilán – 52.2
  7. (TIE) Logan Lopez – 51.8
  8. (TIE) Amy Argentar – 51.8
  9. Sara Hill – 51.5

Let it be known that these poets fought their way through an open slam season and preliminary slam to get onto this list, and so to be at the bottom of this slam is still to be one of the season’s winners. All 9 of these poets deserve praise and congratulations for their valiant efforts in this stupid, chance-fueled bar game. Thank you to everyone who came out, everyone who judged, and everyone who supported a slammer, as well as to my bout staff Zeke Russell and Michael F. Gill. Finally, a huge thanks to everyone who has ever slammed at the Cantab and helped create this ridiculous tradition. 

Get ready to catch this team representing us at the NorthBeast Regional, July 20-21 in Cambridge, MA! And come to the Cantab this week for a feature from all-time-Cantab-favorite from the past, Brian S Ellis!

-Myles ✨