Cantab Feature for Wednesday, November 7, 2012: G Yamazawa

G Yamazawa, southern youth-grad performance poet.

G Yamazawa, southern youth-grad performance poet.

At only 21 years old, G(eorge) Yamazawa is widely considered one of the top young poets in the country. Born in Durham, North Carolina and raised in a Buddhist household, G is a two-time Southern Fried Champion, National Poetry Slam finalist, and Individual World Poetry Slam finalist, and has taken his art to venues across the nation including the Sundance Film Festival, Bonnaroo Music Festival, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and Chicago’s Green Mill. His favorite food is fried chicken, and he hates sushi.

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, October 31

Happy Halloween, everyone! Big thanks to all who came out to celebrate with us this year at the Dead Poets’ Slam. Our open mic was full of a great mix of live poets doing their own work, live poets doing dead poets’ work, and live poets covering each other. Neat! We enjoyed a few costumes and a bunch of great covers, but everyone was waiting excitedly for the night’s feature: four teams of poets performing in character for a Halloween slamstravaganza!

The show kicked off with two bonus sacrificial poets: Meaghan Ford read from Elizabeth Bishop, then Zeke Russell channeled Warren Zevon to give the crowd a sense of the range they’d be seeing for the slam. An exceptionally harsh team of judges –many of whom volunteered to put the smackdown on some dead poets– started the night by leaving a lot of room at the top for the next readers! The opening poets wasted no time putting together big performances for the judges, though: Team Choler’s Adrienne Rich (played by Melissa Newman-Evans) started off by Diving into the Wreck with just a little help from the page, followed by Team Melancholy’s Deborah Digges (Richard Cambridge) going fully off-page and Team Phglematic’s Walt Whitman (Douglas Bishop, natch) working the room like any modern slammer! Team Sanguine’s Pablo Neruda (Nate Leland) closed out with a gratifyingly long piece, and slam was off to a tight start with the Phlegmatics in the lead.

Round two saw a snarky rejoinder to True Love from Wislawska Szymborska (Nora Meiners), a powerfully deconstructed melange of poems from a leather-clad Kathy Acker (April Penn), and rambling and well-read missive from Jack Kerouac (Jack Skiranos). Oscar Wilde (Jade Sylvan), dressed to the nines, closed out the round with the high score, but Acker’s strong effort combined with Rich’s score from the first round served to put Team Choler on top at the halfway point of the slam.

Round three started strong– and weird– with Shel Silverstein (Nate Comstock) taking the high score of the round with the tale of The Bagpipe Who Didn’t Say No. Lynda Hull (Sophia Holtz) introduced herself with Hollywood Jazz, and Charles Bukowski (Sue Savoy) rocked the house with a rambunctious and rude story of… writers’ block, we guess. Sylvia Plath (Brenna Kleiman) finished up the round by eating men like air, which was enough to keep Team Choler in the lead with the Melancholics just behind.

Some of our team’s strategists had obviously been working overtime for round four: Team Melancholy kicked in the door of the final round with a bang when an all-white-clad Emily Dickinson (Tom Daley) took the stage to wild applause: Dickinson would garner the top score of the night, despite a strong effort from Allen Ginsberg (Alexander Nemser), perhaps the most in-character poet of the night! Federico Garcia Lorca (Cassandra de Alba) closed out for Team Choler with a sleep of apples, and Samuel Beckett (Charlie R) presented the only bilingual piece of the night to close out the slam.

When all was said and done, Team Melancholy had come from behind to take the win! Team Choler took second, with Teams Sanguine and Phlegmatic falling in third and fourth. It was an exceptional night at the slam and good fun for all: if you missed it, well, you’ll just have to wait until next Halloween.

Next week: we’re back to our usual open mic, feature, and open 8×8 slam format. This week’s feature will be Southern poet G Yamazawa. See you there!

Tips from the Bar: Don’t Write Anything

This prompt isn’t about writing anything: it’s for sharing! Earmark a poem you love to bring to the open mic sometime this year. Perform it if you can.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, October 31: Dead Poets’ Slam

Some people already can’t think of anything scarier than a night at a poetry show. Why not celebrate Halloween with the world-famous Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge? On Wednesday, October 31, the Cantab will host a real fright fest: more than sixteen dead poets will present their work in a team poetry slam in honor of Halloween night. The deceased will haunt a team-based poetry slam where members of the audience judge who is really the best of all time— at least for this year’s All Hallow’s Eve.

The slam is full, and our competitors have been assigned to teams based (loosely) on The Four Humors of Hippocratic medicine. All poets will be performing in character, and you can expect to see old favorites like Ginsberg, Plath, Dickinson, and Whitman, but also some surprise deep cuts from Kathy Acker, Deborah Digges, Wislawska Szymborska, and Shel Silverstein. Audience members are encouraged to dress as their favorite departed poet, and the night will kick off with an open mic: bring your own dead poet if you dare!

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 poetry slam performs at approximately 10:00. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, October 24

If you were at home last Wednesday night, but suddenly were awash in a feeling that you were missing something wonderful… Let’s just say you should have been at the Cantab. Gypsee Yo gave a wonderful feature, showing off why she’s reached the top level of slam competition as well as recognition in the overall community. We were also privileged to hear the sound of some of her work in Albanian– while surrounded by a group of Cantab visitors who knew exactly what she was talking about. We thank Gypsee for the opportunity to hear some rarely-read work in a remarkable environment.

After a powerful female feature, we somehow ended up with… An all-man slam? Eight guys put on a pretty great show, with Zeke Russell taking the final round over some newer short work from Oz. Zeke takes home the ten bucks and qualifies to try out for the 2013 Boston Poetry Slam Team. Team Selection Slams for 2013, by the way, will begin in January this year: check out the series rules for evolving dates and news.

Next week: it’s time to celebrate Halloween at the Cantab! This year, we’ll be doing it with a Dead Poets’ Slam, featuring more than sixteen locals in character as their favorite poet-gone-by. The slam is full, but everyone else is encouraged to perform in the voice of a dead poet on the open mic– or dress in costume– or both! Get ready for the scariest Halloween yet: all poetry, all night.

Tips from the Bar: What, You Wanted a Prompt?

Write a poem that is also a writing prompt.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, October 24, 2012: Gypsee Yo

Gypsee Yo, Albanian poet from Atlanta, holds her audience rapt.

Gypsee Yo, Albanian poet from Atlanta, holds her audience rapt.

Gypsee Yo (Jonida Beqo) is a native of Albania, currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a performance artist whose work aims to blur the lines between genres. Her background includes successful projects in theatre, dance, storytelling, and an extensive spoken word and slam poetry resume. She is the regional Southern Queen of Slam (2008), Atlanta’s Slam Champion (2006–2009), a three time National Poetry Slam semi-finalist (2006–2008), and a National Poetry Slam final stage feature in Austin, TX (2007). In addition, she has ranked two times as first runner-up in the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Detroit, MI (2009), and Columbus, OH (2011).

Her three poetry collections in Albanian, I Do Not Fit Inside my Body (1998), The Last Nail (1999), and When Life Grows Roots Inside a Suitcase (2003) are critically acclaimed titles. She has toured internationally and has been recognized for her work in theatre with the Dell’Arte Diversity Award by the American College Theatre Festival and the Kennedy Center in DC (2004). Her work has been highlighted both in her native country and in the US in television and radio features, including Spoken!, Nashville’s NeoSoul Radio, and Atlanta’s Voice of the Arts.

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, October 17

Happy birthday to yoooouuuu, Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge! Our twentieth anniversary of poetry at the Cantab fell on Tuesday, October 16, so of course we had to celebrate. To do it, the only two SlamMasters the show has ever had –that’s Michael Brown and Simone Beaubien— got together for a head-to-head double feature. The two poets started with a little back-to-back banter, but soon fell into their old ways of speaking only with poem after poem for the hour-long set. If you ever wondered who the Cantab sounds like –and why– you got your answer on Wednesday night.

We also released the Boston Poetry Slam’s first ever anthology (with a spine!) this week. Edited by Adam Stone and with layout work by Melissa Newman-Evans, The Cantab Lounge Anthology: 20 Years of Poetry contains more than 300 pages of poetry and history about the reading. You can pick one up at the bar any Wednesday night for just $20.

An anniversary and book release sure are one reason to party… But we plan to continue celebrating performance poetry every week at the Cantab Lounge! Next week, we’ll be doing it with Albanian-gone-southern-U.S. poet Gypsee Yo, as well as the next open poetry slam in our 8×8 series.

Tips from the Bar: Read More Comics, Carlos

Write about a garden blooming with something that gardens are not usually made of.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, October 17, 2012: Michael Brown and Simone Beaubien

In celebration of the Boston Poetry Slam’s twentieth anniversary, the show’s founding and current SlamMasters will co-feature. Expect a night of classics, new work, and surely at least a few surprises from Michael Brown and Simone Beaubien.

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 features performs at approximately 10:00. There is no open poetry slam tonight due to extended feature time. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.