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.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, June 27, 2012: Danez Smith

Danez Smith of First Wave.

Danez Smith of First Wave.

Danez Smith is a poet, performer, and playwright from St. Paul, MN. A senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a founding member of the First Wave Hip-Hop Theatre Ensemble, he has also been a slam champion of the Minneapolis and Madison Poetry scenes. Danez has established himself as a performer, writer, teacher, and personality in his many worlds, placing 6th at the 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam.

A Cave Canem fellow, he is published in PANK, Illumination, Orange Quarterly, and elsewhere. His one-man theatre production “For Those Who Pray In Closets” is receiving critical acclaim and standing ovations wherever it is performed.

Danez has traveled across the country and the globe to Mexico, Panama, Switzerland, and England to perform poetry and theatre. A young artist walking and writing in the footsteps of Balwin and Hughes, Danez seeks to continue to be a voice for hushed choir boys, the walking shadows, the joy, hurt, and journey of the black, queer men. Pulling from his artistic endeavors in music and theatre, his voice on the page sings of his old soul, his experienced youth, his treasured mistakes, and all the things that imagine him human.

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, June 25

At the New & Improved reading, we like to say that we are encouraging cross-genre collaboration and thinking, not just between poets, but among all kinds of self-directed performance artists. Last night, our wish came true in a beautiful way as storytellers, poets, prose writers, comedians, and who-knows-who-else congregated around workshop leader Michael Mack. Michael led a fabulous discussion about the ideas and goals of storytelling and the role of the writer and the characters in a piece of performance art. Awesome!

We followed up a successful workshop with a packed open mic; for the first time ever, we had to turn folks away when we filled up the list! Special thanks to Michael Monroe and Jamei Bauer, who did the hard work of hosting and made sure to welcome all our first-timers, even those who might have to wait until next week to get on the list.

Our double-feature was also one to remember. The first set came from April Ranger, who brought a winding and powerful set of all almost-new poems, closing with the debut of a dramatic monologue that was backed by surprise musical guest Jeff Robinson, our friend from the Lizard Lounge poetry slam! Jeff’s saxophone strung together April’s words and carried the story to a dramatic finish… And once April left the stage, Jeff soldiered on, improvising a heart-wrenching tune that bled from a series of wild, unleashable bleats to smooth and melodic sweetness. It was the kind of moment this reading was made for, and made for an unforgettable centerpiece of the night for our listeners.

Our closing reader for the evening was storyteller Michael Mack, who prepared a series of poems, stories, monologues, and perhaps a host of other definitions that all fit exactly within the realm of writer/performer/artist discussed in the workshop. A consummate professional, Michael was totally unruffled when the impromptu Baltimore punk band downstairs started up halfway through his set; with a skill and flexibility the performers in the audience couldn’t help but envy, Michael flipped his set around to actually incorporate the rebellious, destructive vibe of the music and elevated the night to a whole new level. It’s not exactly what we meant by cross-genre collab (and, by the way, Radio has assured us that this kind of double-scheduling won’t happen again), but it was another amazing moment in an overall great show. We’re so glad to have shared all of this with some amazing first-time visitors.

Next week: to celebrate the first Monday of the month (practically July 4!) we’ll be kicking it with the Presidential Smackdown Slam. New & Improved host Michael Monroe will start us off with a prompt-based writing workshop before a lickety-split-quick open mic. Then, all the way from Jamaica Plain, The Woodrow Wilsons will get our presidential-themed night started with a musical interlude… After which the headline event will take the stage: a 12-person head-to-head series of poems in some of your favorite characters from American history. Join host Kevin Spak as he invites Meaghan Ford, Marshall Gillson, Christian Drake, Zeke Russell, and a host of other ragtag characters in this holiday-themed event. Whoohoo!

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, June 20

It’s finally summer, Cantab! It was just shy of one million degrees outside last night, so Lauren Zuniga was a breath of fresh air from the middle of the country. She performed a great selection of work for us and also shared her new Write Bloody book (if you missed your chance to pick up a copy, you can get it here)! Our slam was lady-heavy in honor of Lauren’s visit, apparently: the final round was newcomer Anna Gallagher with the win over Nora Meiners.

Next Wednesday: we’re back with Danez Smith, who’s making this his one New England stop before crossing the pond for some European gigs. Lucky us! We’ll also hold the seventh open slam in our current 8×8 series.

Tips from the Bar: the Dawn Gabriel Prompt

Write a poem in the form of a voicemail message.