Cantab Recap for Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Some of us have been waiting a long time to hear Ricky Orng feature at the Cantab Lounge; last night, we finally got our wish! Ricky took us through stories of family and food, language and missed connections, and through all of it wound the substantial joy he makes part of his craft. You can catch Ricky at the East Meets Words reading on second Fridays, just down the street on Mass Ave., or book him as part of his latest duo project, Adobo Fish Sauce.

Our slam drew six poets in the mood for a face-off as we count down the last few (just six, people) slams left to qualify for the 2018 Team Selection Slams. The final pairing came down to previous winner Anna Binkovitz and the yet-to-qualify Allison Truj… True to form, Anna pulled no punches, but Truj came out on top at the end of an exceptionally enjoyable slam.

Next week: is there something… imperfect… about the family you might be headed home to see for next Thursday? We mean, of course not, and how rude of us to suggest– but if you’re looking for an unconditional welcome to warm your week, we would like to most heartily suggest our feature from John Pinkham! As usual, we’ll close the night with the family-style argument we like to call an open poetry slam.

Tips from the Bar: Secret Squirrel

Did you ever dream of having a pet your parents wouldn’t allow? Did you actually try it (or know someone who did)? Start your poem with the story of your secret animal friend.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, November 15, 2017: Ricky Orng

Ricky Orng represents the Mill City Slam at the 2016 National Poetry Slam. Photo by Guangpyo Hong.

Ricky Orng represents the Mill City Slam at the 2016 National Poetry Slam. Photo by Guangpyo Hong.

Ricky Orng is a Cambodian-American organizer, designer and storyteller, who enjoys photography, spoken word, and teaching. He has worked extensively with youth organizations on contemporary arts and social justice projects. He regularly eats ramen at the community space EMW Bookstore, and is Director, a.k.a. ‘Uncle,” at Lowell’s Youth Spoken Word organization, FreeVerse!. He currently organizes the bi-monthly Untitled Open Mic in Lowell, Mass. and one of the longest running Asian American Pacific Islander open mics in the country, East Meets Words. All of Ricky’s poetry is about love and relationships and his relationships with his loves. Growing up as a second generation Cambodian-American to war-fleeing parents is an important element to his identity. His parents used to own a donut shop and he believes that deep frying is a part of his family’s survival.

Ricky Orng is also currently touring and performing as part of a duo artist project, Adobo-Fish-Sauce, a multi-sensory cooking-poetry show. You can visit him on Instagram or read his work online.

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, November 8, 2017

Brrr! On the first truly chilly night of the fall, a hardy, poetry-warmed crowd packed into our cozy basement for an incomparable feature by New Jersey’s Nicole Homer. Nicole read intensely and beautifully from her first full-length collection, Pecking Order (Write Bloody 2017), engaging the audience with her tested performance chops and taking the crowd in her competent slam organizer’s hands. Nicole has two more shows at the House Slam and the Dirty Gerund this week, but you also always catch her work at or her extensive personal website.

Our slam was a pretty sweet foursome of tried-and-true slammers testing out their latest work for the stage. The final pairing came down to Brandon Melendez and Myles Taylor, two 2017 team members trying to finally break the tied scores they set making the team back in March! By a bare 0.1, Brandon took the win and the $10… Which means you can watch for Myles pulling exactly zero punches in the remaining slams to qualify for 2018.

Next week: we at the Boston Poetry Slam are extremely pleased to announce that next week’s feature will by Ricky Orng! Ricky is a Cambodian-American poet who got started slamming at the famous Mill City venue in Lowell, and he now works to curate the dynamic East Meets Words reading just down the street in Central Square. As always, our night will start up with an open mic and close out with poetry slam open to all.

Tips from the Bar: That’s Not My Department Prompt

Consider a part of your job you dislike, or like the least. Transform it in a poem to reclaim it as a part of your job you love.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, November 8, 2017: Nicole Homer

Organizer-educator-poet Nicole Homer. Photo by Maria del Naja.

Organizer-educator-poet Nicole Homer. Photo by Maria del Naja.

Nicole Homer is a full-time faculty member at Mercer County Community College in NJ, with an MFA from Rutgers-Newark. Her work has appeared in Muzzle, The Offing, Winter Tangerine, Rattle Poets Respond, The Collagist and elsewhere. A fellow at The Watering Hole and Callaloo, Nicole serves as Editor and regular contributor at BlackNerdProblems, writing critique of media and pop culture, and as faculty at the Pink Door Writing Retreat for Women and Gender Non-conforming Writers of Color. Her debut poetry collection, Pecking Order, became available from Write Bloody in spring of 2017.

Nicole’s full length collection, Pecking Order, is an unflinching look at how race and gender politics play out in the domestic sphere. Homer challenges the notion of family by forcing the reader to examine how race, race performance, and colorism impact motherhood immediately and from generation to generation. In a world where race and color often determine treatment, the home should be sanctuary, but often is not. Homer’s poems question the construction of racial identity and how familial love can both challenge and bolster that construction. Her poems range from the intimate details of motherhood to the universal experiences of parenting; the dynamics of multiracial families to parenting black children; and the ingrained social hierarchy which places the black mother at the bottom. Homer forces us to reckon with the truth that no one―not even the mother―is unbiased.

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, November 1, 2017

Success! This week, we enjoyed a fabulous All Hallows/Saints’/Souls’ slam, courtesy of director and host Cassandra de Alba. Seven pairs of poets slammed off for the dubious honor of a mysteeeeeeeeeeeeerious discount pharmacy prize, plus eternal (for real this time) glory. We are pleased to offer congratulations to the Died Young team, who, clocking in just over Medicare age, defeated the upstarts of the Died Younger team in a decisive 5-2 finish! That means Anna Binkovitz, Caroline Merrit, Jeffrey Salamone, Mara Stangl, April Penn, Zeke Russell, and George Abraham walked away with the coveted prize, leaving Austin Hendricks, Christian Arthur, Meaghan Ford, Colin Killick, Sara Mae, Chloé Cunha, and Lip McDonald to haunt the venue with their loss. Thanks for slamming, ghostly poets! And, no, you still can’t stand on the stairs.

This coming Wednesday: we welcome powerhouse craftperson and thinker Nicole Homer, who’s making us a stop on the tour for her latest book, Pecking Order from Write Bloody. A visit from Nicole is a rare treat, so act accordingly: we hope you’ll come out early and stay late for this feature with deep roots in northeastern slam.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, November 1, 2017: The All Souls’ Slam

Some people already can’t think of anything scarier than a night at a poetry show. Why not celebrate All Souls’ Day with the world-famous Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge? To honor the holiday, the Cantab will host a real fright fest: a dozen-odd (and we do mean odd) dead poets will present their work in honor of the season. 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 Halloween, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ season.

This slam accepted all signups in advance, so we are pleased to announce the rosters for two fight-like-your-life-depends-on-poetry teams at the All Souls’ Slam! Check it:

Adrienne Rich vs. Sylvia Plath
Irene McKinney vs. Max Ritvo
Wanda Coleman vs. Pat Parker
Louise Bogan vs. Mark O’Brien
Robinson Jeffers vs. Robin Williams
Jack McCarthy vs. Frank O’Hara
Brigit Pegeen Kelly vs. Kurt Cobain

Oh, you want to know whose bodies these spirits will be inhabiting for the show? Hold on to your witch hats, because it’s a doozy of a roster… We’ll be welcoming the mortal coils of Zeke Russell, Anna Binkovitz, Jeffrey Salamone, Lip McDonald, George Abraham, Christian Arthur, Colin Killick, April Penn, Meaghan Ford, Sara Mae, Chloé Cunha, and even more awesome souls. Those coming to listen in are also 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 invitational slam begins at approximately 10:00. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ah, October in New England: when the leaves turn a warm yellow-gold, then are beaten off the trees by a lashing, unseasonably warm rain… amirite? But look, no matter what kind of weather you needed shelter from, you could find it in the Cantab last Wednesday, under the protective real-world vision of our feature Claudia Wilson. Claudia brought no product, no special requests, and no ego to our little show on Wednesday: they sat in the front row for our sweet and friendly open mic, packed with first-timers, and then rocked our worlds gently and firmly with their deeply personal, thoroughly true narratives of childhood. Our thanks go out to Claudia for just the feature we needed this autumn night.

After the feature, we rolled right into our other feature: the Champion of Champions slam! RebeccaLynn was geared up to defend her long-held title against eight seven attending challengers, including last week’s on-a-roll slam winner Lucas Dean, and she showed how little she was planning to hold back with a blistering intro in the sacrifice round. Slammers were dropping left and right until the final round, pitting two NPS 2017 attendees against one another: Meaghan Ford and Zeke Russell. True to his Master Plan(TM), Zeke took the win in the final round to achieve the Season Championship, leaving him just one poem away from the yet-unachieved venue trifecta of World Qualifier Champ, top Team Selection Slams scorer, and Champion of Champions. The final, head-to-head, new-poem-only round between Zeke and RebeccaLynn was one for the ages, but, when the dust cleared, RebeccaLynn stood triumphant, driving any other title-collection bids back into the shadows. Congratulations to both our Champ RebeccaLynn (who, don’t forget, features for us on December 6) and Good Sport Zeke, who we are certain have not met in slam for the last time.

Next week: it’s a slameriffic All Souls Day! Bring your favorite dead poet to life on our stage: sorry, no seances allowed, you’ll have to get in character instead… You’re invited to costume up (but you gotta be decent, people) and perform in character at the All Souls’ Slam! Producer Cassandra de Alba is still taking sign-ups, so click here to learn more and sign up, or just come to our open mic with a poet from behind the veil you’d like to share.

Tips from the Bar: The Russell de Alba Prompt

Write a poem in which a ghost appears and does not hurt you in any way.