Cantab Feature for Wednesday, May 9, 2018: Chen Chen

Rochester prizewinning poet Chen Chen. Photo by Jess X. Snow.

Rochester prizewinning poet Chen Chen. Photo by Jess X. Snow.

Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, which won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, the GLCA New Writers Award, and was longlisted for the National Book Award. His work has appeared in Poetry, Tin House, The Best American Poetry, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and elsewhere. Recently, Poets & Writers Magazine featured him as one of “Ten Poets Who Will Change the World.” He lives in Rochester, NY with his partner and their pug dog, Mr. Rupert Giles.

Note that tonight’s Last Chance Poetry Slam is a speed slam with 3-, 2-, and 1-minute rounds. This is the final opportunity to qualify for the 2018 World Qualifier.

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. The Last Chance speed slam will follow. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, May 2, 2018

It’s May already, Cantabbers, and that means a five-payday-month: we kicked off our bonus Wednesday this week with a really sweet open mic, welcoming some very strong newcomers to the stage, and setting up Kieran Collier for a glorious journey of a feature. What a joy to see this longtime reader owning the mic for himself and selecting poems from the whole arc of his story. If you missed it? Your best bet is to come to the Cantab for the next, say, fifty Wednesdays, so you can really get a feel for this local community leader and educator’s work.

You may have heard, by the way, that we finalized our Champion of Champions with a speed-style 8×8 this week, too, the penultimate of the season. Four poets arrived to take a shot at reigning champion Brandon Melendez, who’s been making a name around town for himself in the intervening weeks (hey, House Slam team!). Previous slam winners RebeccaLynn, Lip, Evan, and Sam battled it out two rounds to leave RebeccaLynn and Lip in the top spots: on a roll with some fresh performances, RebeccaLynn claimed the season championship and let the cash prize ride to challenge Brandon to a rematch of their previous epic Champions battle! These two poetic friends and rivals were toasting tequila with each other when the scores went up, so maybe they didn’t notice, but the news is this: Brandon took the final, new-poem round, defending the title to safely retain until August’s rematch.

Next week: listen, you can’t tell anybody, but Chen Chen is going to be our feature on May 9, and it’s kind of a big deal(!). We’ll also enjoy the very last speed slam of 2018, which is, coincidentally, our Last Chance Slam to get into the World Qualifier on May 16.

Last bit of news: if you didn’t hear the announcement at the Cantab this week, here it is again… We are proud to report that our spring and summer bookings are being conducted by tumblrinatrix, co-host, and badass organizer Cassandra de Alba. Be sure to thank Cass (alert: whiskey is one good thanks) when you see a poet you love on the schedule!

Tips from the Bar: A Fine Judge of Character

Have you ever had a partner that didn’t get along with your pet? Or a pet that didn’t get along with your partner? How did you explain this? What did you do?

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, May 2, 2018: Kieran Collier and the Champion of Champions Poetry Slam

Host Kieran Collier performs in the Team Selection Slams. Photo by Marshall Goff.

Host Kieran Collier performs in the Team Selection Slams. Photo by Marshall Goff.

Kieran Collier is a Boston-based writer and educator. He is the author of When the Gardener Has Left (Wilde Press, 2015) and This to You (Beard Poetry, 2016). His work has been featured in multiple journals and anthologies. He was the first (and so far the only) four-time CUPSI member of Emerson College’s existence, and has since graduated to co-hosting at the Boston Poetry Slam. His favorite color is orange. Talk to him about pop punk and the perfect Shirley Temple.

Kieran will conduct a poetry writing workshop prior to door time on the night of his feature. More details will be available here in early spring.

Tonight also marks the final night in our current 8×8 poetry slam series! Following Kieran’s feature, eight slam winners will slam off for the season championship and the opportunity to challenge Brandon Melendez (WEST COAST), the current reigning Champion of Champions.


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 Champions of Champions Slam in the 8×8 slam series will begin at approximately 10:00. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wait just a minute: have we seen the last Wednesday of National Poetry Month already? Will we have to wait another eleven months for… Nah, check it, we’ve got Wednesdays fulla poetry every month around here. Last night, obviously, was no kind of exception, with the much-missed and well-traveled Ashley Davis swinging back into town to hold space for healing, spirituality, and guides of the spirit. Ashley, as always, navigated trauma and forgiveness with a deft and personal hand, leaving us shaking and more whole than before after her half hour on the stage.

The slam was a good time had by all, including veterans, first-timers, Cantab regulars and maybe a few over-the-river carpetbaggers come together to elevate each other’s work! The final one-minute round came down to Sam Rush vs. JR Mahung: despite burning an extra poem in an earlier tiebreaker round, JR took the big win and the ten bucks, as well as the final spot in next week’s Champion of Champions slam.

Oh, and yes, next week: the poetry doesn’t stop with April, and, just to prove it, we’ve got a remarkable triple-header event for you! First, Kieran Collier will present an early-bird generative poetry workshop on grief, joy, memory, and honest: you can sign up in advance or just show up on time (around 5:30) in the space. Then, once our open mic has warmed the room, Kieran will present his first feature on the Cantab stage! Our night will close with the much-anticipated speed-slam-style Champion of Champions match, where Brandon Melendez will have a chance to defend his title (and the $100 prize) against the spring’s eight finest challengers. See you there!

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, April 25, 2018: Ashley Davis

VONA cohort and 2016 National Poetry Slam Finalist Ashley Davis. Photo by Khadija Hudson.

VONA cohort and 2016 National Poetry Slam Finalist Ashley Davis. Photo by Khadija Hudson.

Ashley Davis is a California native, New York educated, Boston bred, Philly-based, black, queer, womxn, poet, and educator whose work is personal and performed with the intention to connect to those around her in order to build community and continue healing. Ashley was a part of the VONA 2017 cohort facilitated by Patricia Smith, was a part of the 2016 Finalist team from House Slam at the National Poetry Slam, and was a finalist for the 2016 National Underground Individual Poetry Competition. She currently lives with her grandmother and great-grandmother connecting to her spirit guides, learning her craft, and protecting her energy.

Note that tonight’s open poetry slam is a speed slam with 3-, 2-, and 1-minute rounds. Slam winners qualify for the 2018 World Qualifier.

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 speed slam in the 8×8 series will follow. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, April 18, 2018: Mia S. Willis

Marquis slammer and Sage and Petrichor author Mia Willis. Photo by Julia Debski.

Marquis slammer and Sage and Petrichor author Mia Willis. Photo by Julia Debski.

Mia S. Willis is a 22 year old artist and adventurer. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, she represented East Carolina University as a competing poet at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational during all four years of her undergraduate career. Mia is also a member of North Carolina’s The Marquis Slam, a PSi collective which ranked in the top 20 teams in the nation at the 2017 National Poetry Slam. Her work has been featured in print by East Carolina University’s expressions Magazine and SUGAR, as well as online by The Fem Lit Mag, INTER, and a feminist thread. Most recently, Mia ranked fourth out of ninety-six poets at the 2018 Women of the World Poetry Slam.

Mia released a visual album of poetry on YouTube, entitled “Sage and Petrichor,” in September of 2017. The project is a video compilation of dance choreography, spoken poetry, and footage of Mia’s travel experiences as a performer. When she is not onstage, Mia is a full-time Master of Arts student in the Department of Classics at The Florida State University. Connect with her on both Facebook and Twitter.

Note that tonight’s open poetry slam is a speed slam with 3-, 2-, and 1-minute rounds. Slam winners qualify for the 2018 World Qualifier.

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 speed slam in the 8×8 series will follow. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, April 11, 2018: Linette Reeman

Jersey Shore Aries Linette Reeman. Photo by Christopher Diaz.

Jersey Shore Aries Linette Reeman. Photo by Christopher Diaz.

Linette Reeman (b. 1996; they/them pronouns) is an Aries from the Jersey Shore, so they’re not sure what you mean by “speed limit.” Their work focuses on the intersections of transgender identity, mental illness and its subsequent vices, escaping suburbia, and sexuality in context.

Linette is the final/reigning Loser Slam Grand Slam Champ (2016), a multiple Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Bettering American Poetry nominee (2016 & 2017), hosted finals stage at the 2017 Texas Grand Slam, was a CUPSI semi-finalist representing Rowan University (2016), and previously held an executive board position for the Philadelphia Fuze Slam. Linette has toured extensively throughout the United States, performing at venues such as Busboys & Poets, Electric Truth, Write About Now, and the Bowery Poetry Club, and embarks on THE COMET TOUR with Canadian poet Kay Kassirer in January 2018. Linette has also designed the layout for a multitude of print-based projects, including the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam Festival Guide and Philadelphia-based poet Noor B. Jaber’s chapbook Sovereign Ancestrial. Linette’s work has been published or is forth-coming from journals like Public Pool, FreezeRay, Blueshift Journal, Crab Fat Magazine, The Penn Review, Juked, Tinderbox Journal, and most recently they won Sundog Lit’s inaugural collaboration contest with torrin a. greathouse.

Currently, Linette is sort-of completing a bachelor’s degree in history, but is mostly just trying to survive in small-town America.

Note that tonight’s open poetry slam is a speed slam with 3-, 2-, and 1-minute rounds. Slam winners qualify for the 2018 World Qualifier.

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 speed slam in the 8×8 series will follow. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

SCHEDULE CHANGE: Cantab Feature for Wednesday, April 4, 2018: Jalem Towler

Due to personal circumstances, tonight’s originally scheduled feature, Hazem Fahmy, will not be able to attend. The Boston Poetry Slam hopes to re-book Hazem for a future date. In the meantime, we present the following local powerhouse in his first full-length feature:

Local poet and performer Jalem Towler. Photo by Zoe Towler.

Local poet and performer Jalem Towler. Photo by Zoe Towler.

Jalem Towler hails from Conyers, Ga., a small town less than thirty minutes outside of Atlanta. He is a fiction writer, poet, loyal friend, academic, two-time CUPSI competitor, and a regular slammer at the Haley House. His writings explore God, Jesus, his black male identity, family, and childhood among other current events. Most of his writings are greatly influenced by what he has experienced in America, in his family, and in his relationships. Jalem believes in bringing nuance and exploring the intricacies of his identity, especially if it means asking questions and being vulnerable. Next year, he will be enrolled in a Master’s program at Harvard where he hopes to study the intersections of black and Japanese culture while still holding on to his other pastimes of Kingdom Hearts and anime.

Note that tonight’s open poetry slam is a speed slam with 3-, 2-, and 1-minute rounds. Slam winners qualify for the 2018 World Qualifier.

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 speed slam in the 8×8 series will follow. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.


Biography of the cancelled feature:

Hazem Fahmy, poet and critic from Cairo. Photo by David Nguyen.

Hazem Fahmy, poet and critic from Cairo. Photo by David Nguyen.

Hazem Fahmy is a poet and critic from Cairo. He is an Honors graduate of Wesleyan University’s College of Letters where he studied literature, philosophy, history and film. His debut chapbook, “Red//Jild//Prayer” won the 2017 Diode Editions Contest and is forthcoming in 2018. His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming in Apogee, HEArt, Mizna, and The Offing. His performances have been featured on Button Poetry and Write About Now. He is a reader for the Shade Journal, a poetry editor for Voicemail Poems, and a contributing writer to Film Inquiry. In his spare time, Hazem writes about the Middle East and tries to come up with creative ways to mock Classicism. He makes videos occasionally. Follow him on Letterboxd.

Due to personal circumstances, tonight’s originally scheduled feature, Hazem Fahmy, will not be able to attend. The Boston Poetry Slam looks forward to booking the poet for a future date.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, March 28 / Grudge Match Recap

What a week, Cantabbers! First, our Wednesday kicked off big with a sold-out crowd for returning favorite Bobby Crawford, who presented a tight set with all the roller-coaster work-life heartbreak we’d dreamed of. The speed slam was an exciting five-poet affair, welcoming runner-up Kenny Piña on his first night at the show, with Evan Jymaal Cutts taking the eventual win for this fourth slam in the series. Then, the very next night, we welcomed patrons from both sides of the river to the Grudge Match, our annual head-to-head fundraiser with Boston’s House Slam! This hotly contested slam pitted some of the finest poets (and bestest of friends) against each other in an all-new head-to-head poem format; the twists and turns were many, but, at the end of seven rounds, the House Slam took the win, 4-3.

Thanks so much to everyone who visited us this week and helped pump up our fundraising total for the slam; your cover charge helps us (and, for Thursday’s show, House, too) get our newly minted 2018 Boston Poetry Slam team to the National Poetry Slam in Chicago this year.

Next week: we kick off National Poetry Month with a little schedule change… After a recent cancellation, we are really pleased to announce that the night’s headliner will be Jalem Towler, a Georgia native now local to Boston, in his first full-length feature. We’ll also host the fifth speed slam in our 8×8 series if you’re looking to get in on the World Qualifier fun coming up in May. See you there!