Cantab Feature for Wednesday, July 18, 2012: Laura Lamb Brown-Lavoie

2011 NPS Finalist Laura Lamb Brown-Lavoie from Providence.

2011 NPS Finalist Laura Lamb Brown-Lavoie from Providence.

Laura Brown-Lavoie is a spoken word poet from Providence, Rhode Island. A newcomer to the national slam scene, she was the 2011 Providence Grand Slam Champion and had the opportunity to perform on Finals stage at the National Poetry Slam in Boston, where she and her Providence teammates took third place.

When she isn’t writing, Laura works as an urban farmer, growing food on two vacant lots in Providence. While much of her poetry is inspired by her interactions with the urban natural environment, she also writes to interrogate the use of language in politics and the mainstream media, and, of course, to figure out where the she is in all of this.

She is committed to spoken word performance as a means of fostering creative community in a culture where too often people are isolated from one another in favor of glowing screens. Her mom is a high school English teacher, and her dad is a storyteller, and she takes any opportunity she can to be in rooms full of people where beautiful things are being said out loud. Oh, and Laura effin’ loves public libraries.

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.

Radio Recap for Monday, July 16

So maybe we’ve said “all-star line-up” before in some context here, but it’s just possible that all those previous iterations pale in comparison to last night’s Radio pairing. Regie Gibson and Fey Rey & Freedom Sound lit up the stage last night with two incredibly solid, incredibly different sets. Regie wowed the crowd with his soaring delivery, tight use of exciting language and rhyme, and some highly irreverent reverence; from his dedication to John Donne to his “Slick Willie Williams” character, the audience was dazzled and entertained. Our musical guests followed up with (revelation!) their first stage showing together– this Points North/Woodrow Wilsons project combo brought us sweet and earthy harmonies overlaid with some low-key string work, making for a great end to the evening.

Next week, we’re back with… Oh-oh, another all-star line-up! It’ll be Caroline Harvey and Gracious Calamity in a show full of talented and powerful women. Come at 7:00 to catch the workshop with Caroline, or jump into the 8:00 open mic before the 9:00 double-feature! As always: Radio at 379 Somerville Ave. in Union Square, 21+, $5. See you there!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, July 11

Hey, thanks to everyone who turned out for the NorthBEAST Regional Slam this past Wednesday! We had scheduled teams from Slam Free or Die (Manchester, New Hampshire), the Mill City Slam (Lowell, Massachusetts) and the Lizard Lounge (just down the street) to slam against our very own home team! What an exciting night.

The bout started off strong with two great sacrifices from Nora Meiners and Marshall Gillson. Hey, in case you didn’t know: Marshall’s working up in our neck of the woods this summer, but he’ll be repping for Atlanta’s Art Amok slam when we all head down to Charlotte. That’s one more team for you to root for at the National Poetry Slam this year! Hot on the heels of the sacrifices came Rudy Cabrera from the Lizard, who kicked in the door with a head-space love poem that shook the first high nines out of the judges. Febo from Mill City and Mckendy from the Cantab brought strong opening work, but the only one with a chance at catching up in the first round was Beau Williams from SFoD, who settled into the room with a heart-wrenching, beautifully performed open letter.

That meant the teams started pulling out all the stops in the second round. Oz started us off with his poem about mermaids riding bicycles underwater (remember?), but the Lizard sealed the second round with a second strong performance, this one from Neiel Israel in a form of a letter to her mother. The next three (!) poets actually followed the letter theme, the first being a short-yet-sweet-punk-piece from SFoD newcomer Derek Avila, and the second a humorous rant from Lowell’s Matthew Richards that stole the audience’s hearts but just didn’t pique the judges’ interest.

The fourth round opened up with SFoD’s Heidi Therrien’s affecting Letter to My 6-Year-Old Self. Cantab favorites Kemi Alabi and Michael Monroe knocked their own performances out of the park, but the Lizard’s Janae Johnson sealed the deal with a love/drinking poem that essentially mathed every other team out of the win.

That meant the fourth round was going to be a free-for-all! First-time-slammer at the Cantab Princess Chan, from Lowell, broke hearts all over the room with a poem about war and ancestry. SFoD’s Christopher Clauss roused the audience to his cause next, and was just capped by the Lizard’s ultra-positive and in-the-present group piece. Melissa Newman-Evans closed out strong with The Shame Machine, and that was all she wrote. At the end of the night, the Lizard took a solid first place, with SFoD coming in second, Cantab trailing at third, and Lowell taking the four-spot. Good times!

If you missed this slam, no worries: you’ve got one chance left to see the Boston Poetry Slam team in all their glory at the Cantab, and that’ll be their team feature on August 1. For just $5, you can see them perform for an hour and even pick up a copy of their chapbook, to be released that night.

In the meantime, we’ve still got a few shows between now and then! We’re back next week with Laura Lamb Brown-Lavoie, as well as the last slam in our 8×8 series. See you there!

Tips from the Bar: The Native Tourist

Write about the city where you grew up, or the city where you were born. Teach us something we couldn’t learn otherwise.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, July 11, 2012: NorthBEAST Summer Regional II

NorthBEAST logo by Artie Moffa.

NorthBEAST logo by Artie Moffa.

The summer of slam continues with our second of two NorthBEAST Team Slams! Four National-Poetry-Slam-bound teams will slam off in a traditional 4×4 team slam. Expect hot competition this close to Nationals itself!

Four teams have confirmed for this rollicking slam bout: the Mill City urbanites (Lowell), the sweet-talking slammers from Slam Free or Die (Manchester, New Hampshire), our cross-town rivals from the Lizard Lounge… And the final spot in the show will be taken by our very own 2012 Boston Poetry Slam Team.

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 begins at approximately 10:00. (There is no open poetry slam tonight.) The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $5.

Radio Recap for Monday, July 9

Perhaps the most fabulous aspect of the New & Improved reading is how it redefines our mission and idea every single Monday. This week was no exception, as poet Porsha Olayiwola got us going with a part-writing, part-improv workshop that drew even the quietest artists into Porsha’s rowdy-sexy-safe-space and pulled surprising work out of everyone. The open mic was intimate, sweet, and full of first-timers, including a dream-story-improv-magic act that we could only imagine happening as part of New & Improved.

After all that excitement, we were super-lucky to follow up with the two rockin’ features in the house. We started up with dancer Karin Webb, who, along with guitarist Brendan Burns, improvised a delicate and sinuous piece that incorporated some of the features of the stage, sound system, and bar in a straight-up busting-out through the fourth wall! Porsha took the stage next with a set that ranged from heartrendingly sincere to distressingly believable persona work– all sandwiched between her super-sassy patter and personal narrative. The finale of the night was a second act from Karin, a sensuous burlesque act that snuck up behind the audience and roped everyone in (pun intended)… It’s just possible that you had to be there.

Next week: oh, no big deal. We’re just back with Regie Gibson and Fey Rey & Freedom Sound— that’s a National Poetry Slam Champion and a brandy-new Jamaica Plain three-piece musical project, in case you didn’t know. Come early for Regie’s workshop and stay late to close the bar at Radio for your best possible summer Monday night!

Happy Fourth of July! NO CANTAB POETRY SHOW

There will be no poetry show at the Cantab Lounge on Wednesday, July 4. Enjoy the holiday!

Radio Recap for Monday, July 2

Happy birthday, America! At New & Improved, we celebrated it with our first-ever Presidential Smackdown Slam, a head-to-head poetry debate judged by the electoral rabble at the Radio bar. We had a great crowd turn out to see Millard Fillmore, (b)Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Bill Clinton, and a wild cast of founding and foundering politicos. At the end of the night, the Democrats took the evening (surprise), but a soundly educational time was had by all!

Special thanks to Kevin Spak, who produced this event as part of our new themed first-Mondays plan at Radio. We’ll be back in August with more boisterousness with a comedy/poetry showcase!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, June 27

Check your face, Cantabbers: if it feels a little different, it’s because Danez Smith metaphorically melted it off at last night’s show. This native Minnesotan certainly does not play around on the stage! After a very solid open mic, Danez took the night up another notch with an extremely powerful set that showed off his writing and performance chops and absolutely lit up the room. The slam was a tight one, including a tie in the semi-final round, but the big winner on the night was perennial performer Nora Meiners, who defeated visitor Sean Patrick Mulroy to take the seventh spot in this season’s 8×8 slam series.

Next week: NO SHOW FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY, PEOPLE! We’ll be back on July 11 with a NorthBEAST Regional Poetry Slam: Mill City, Manchester, Jersey City, and the Lizard Lounge will slam off… Cover is $5 that night to help raise money to send the team to the National Poetry Slam.

Tips from the Bar: You Aren’t Invited, But You’re Invited

There is someone in your life (your mother, your ex, your high school teacher) whom you would never invite to a poetry reading. Write a poem to convince them that they should come.