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booking poets for your show

The Boston Poetry Slam is a significant resource for schools, educational organizations, corporate groups, established or nascent poetry shows, or other organizations to access performance poets to educate and entertain. The fast-paced competition of slam brings together storytelling, lyricism, and stand-up comedy all come together in what’s evolved to a modern oral tradition. Slam is not a passive performance; in addition to selecting all judges from the audience, other audience members are strongly encouraged to participate by cheering, whistling, or mildly heckling the hosts or judges. Kids and adults alike learn the power of a single word, line, or figure of speech when spoken aloud.

The best way to book an individual poet to perform, run a workshop, or produce a show for your organization is to visit an open mic or slam, such as the Cantab’s weekly show, and ask the artist directly. There are dozens and dozens of recurring shows in the New England area, and you will likely find one through an internet search for “poetry slam” or “poetry open mic” and the name of the city closest to you. You may also wish to browse our staff directory, or past Cantab representatives to the National Poetry Slam or Individual World Poetry Slam.

Please consider the following criteria before booking for any show:

  • What is the date (or range of dates) for your show? Are you planning on daytime or evening, weekday or weekend? If you are booking for National Poetry Month (April), please be advised that poets are popular during this month and it can be more difficult to book a short-notice gig.
  • What is the scope of your show? Established shows or audiences might simply be looking for an individual poet to perform to fill a specific length of time. Others may require an open mic host and facilitator, a workshop leader, or multiple poets to perform a demonstration slam for your event. Larger shows may desire to book an overall producer to represent a troupe of poets or produce publicity for the event.
  • What is your budget? Although it is possible to bring poets to perform at a show for free, most established performance poets and hosts have day jobs and all consider their time and art to be worth compensation. This can be done with direct payment to a producer or poet, or by offering a cash prize to a slam winner. Even if your budget is small (or non-existent), perquisites such as a free meal, coffee, transportation, or even a written reference from your organization can go a long way toward attracting a poet to your event, so please consider how you plan to compensate the artist(s).
  • Who is your audience? Although the Boston area obviously offers a diverse selection of poets, not all are suited for all audiences. Consider the age of your audience and what language or concept restrictions, if any, your organization might wish to impose on the artist.

For individual bookings, multi-poet events, or full production services for compensated events, you may contact the SlamMaster, Simone Beaubien, directly by email.