Cantab Feature for Wednesday, October 3, 2018: JR Mahung

JR Mahung, 2018 World Qualifier Champion. Photo by Lauren Miller.

JR Mahung, 2018 World Qualifier Champion. Photo by Lauren Miller.

JR Mahung is a Belizean-American poet from the South Side of Chicago. He is an MFA Candidate at The University of Massachusetts Amherst and a 2017 Emerging Poet’s Incubator Fellow. His poetry is published or forthcoming in Cosmonauts Avenue, WusGood, Winter Tangerine and elsewhere. JR is also on the organizing teams for Louder than a Bomb MA youth poetry slam and The Plantain Collection, a poetry reading and conversation series for writers of diaspora. His second chapbook of poems, Since When He Have Wings is forthcoming on Pizza Pi Press. JR’s mixtape is not for sale but he’ll ask you to buy it anyways. Tweet him about rice and beans @jr_mahung.

JR is the Boston Poetry Slam’s 2018 World Qualifier Winner, which qualifies him to represent the venue at the Individual World Poetry Slam in San Diego, Calif. Tonight’s cover charge will be $5 to fundraise for JR’s trip expenses.

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 an extended at approximately 10:00. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $5.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Well, heck, Cantabbers: this past week’s super-smart open mic was loving enough to make the walls blush– we can’t blame poets for the new paint job, but it sure is something when the night plays to the stage’s pink glow. Glowing herself as the buttercream icing on it all was Emily O’Neill, longtime Cantabber come to the feature slot with work from her second book, a falling knife has no handle, as well as work from her upcoming projects. Thanks especially to Emily for a fabulous early-bird workshop that helped inform our open mic so decadently: if you missed it, your next chance at a workshop is on October 10 with Muggs Fogarty, and we can’t possibly go overboard recommending that show to you, too.

Next week: we’re kicking off October with a hyoooog night! JR Mahung, our beloved rep to the 2018 Individual World Poetry Slam, will perform a one-hour set after our usual open mic. We’re expecting new poems, newly memorized poems, newly not-so-memorized-but-check-this-out poems, and a high-level of JR-level sassback, possibly even exceeding the poems. Come for the art, stay for the banter and also the art, and don’t forget that we are a $5 cover charge in our last push to fund JR’s trip to San Diego for IWPS.

Tips from the Bar: Sure, By Its Cover

Tell a story about a book you find on the street/in an airport/on the shelf of someone you don’t have much in common with.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, September 26, 2018: Emily O’Neill

Emily O'Neill, author of "A Falling Knife Has No Handle." Photo by Jackie Downey.

Emily O’Neill, author of a falling knife has no handle. Photo by Jackie Downey.

Emily O’Neill teaches writing and tends bar in Boston, MA. Her second poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, was named one of Publisher’s Weekly’s top ten most anticipated poetry titles of fall 2018. Her debut poetry collection, Pelican, was the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize for women and genderqueer writers, as well as the winner of the 2016 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Series in Poetry. O’Neill is also the author of four chapbooks, most recently baby on bar from Ghost City Press. Her recent poems, stories, and essays have appeared in Cutbank, Gramma, Pinwheel, Redivider, Salt Hill, and Washington Square, among many others.

In addition to her feature set, Emily will also present an early-bird poetry writing workshop before the show. Details will be made available in late August in a separate event page.

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 show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A sweet and dedicated crowd turned out last night for the final Wednesday of summer at the Cantab, taking the open mic seriously, humorously, and sexily by turns. The many bright spots of the night turned out to be a perfect lead-in to the double-feature from Julia Gaskill and Stephen Meads; these two Portland (Oregon) powerhouses got down to business breaking open the room with the sound of slam, bringing all the quirk, laughs, and sudden circumstance the Pacific Northwest has come to be known for. Cool trick: these two will feature again at Manchester’s Slam Free or Die this Thursday if you want to catch them again!

Next week: we’re so proud to announce we are part of the book release tour for Emily O’Neill‘s newest book, a falling knife has no handle. Emily had some of the nicest things to say about her poetry history at the Cantab over on her website, and also plugged the early-bird workshop she’ll be hosting here: a limited number of walk-ins are welcome at 5:30 for a 6:00 sharp generative poetry workshop before the show, sliding scale $5-$20. More info (and the opportunity to reserve a spot in advance) is available on the workshop event page.

Tips from the Bar: Oh, God, the Bees

Create an unlikely, non-violent personal security system to prevent people from invading your personal space.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, September 19, 2018: Julia Gaskill & Stephen Meads

Portland touring duo Julia Gaskill & Stephen Meads. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Portland touring duo Julia Gaskill & Stephen Meads. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Julia Gaskill is a writer and professional daydreamer hailing from Portland, Oregon. When she’s not reviewing books or working for Pencil Ink Productions, she can be found performing on the Portland Poetry Slam stage, exploring the Pacific Northwest, or walking your dog. Julia competed in IWPS and WOWPS in both 2016 and 2017, was the Portland Poetry Slam rep at WOWPS 2018, and competed in NPS 2017 in Denver, CO. Her work has been featured on FreezeRay Poetry, Slam Find, Write About Now, Rising Phoenix Review, and Voicemail Poems. It goes without saying that she loves Muppets more than you. Find her work on tumblr, Instagram, or Twitter.

Stephen Meads, originally a Bay-based poet, has been living and performing in Portland for over six years. He has featured at slams all across the country,from Portland, Maine to Honolulu, Hawaii. Stephen stormed IWPS in 2013, 2014, 2017, and has competed in the National Poetry Slam five times with various teams. He has been featured on Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Slam Find, Write About Now, and Button Poetry, and he occasionally contributes to the web-site Nailed. Stephen eats a lot of pizza, is the champion of pro-wrestling factoids, and hates writing poet bios. Visit Stephen at his website.

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 show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The new slam season has begun, folks, and with it, eight baller new sestinas hit the stage last night at the Cantab! Our first theme slam of the season asked poets to bring a sestina, a sonnet, and an ode to our classic 8×8 format, and audience members were surprised, delighted, and perhaps even formally inspired by the fabulous and more-than-gently restricted work last night’s poets performed.

It is difficult, although not impossible, to successfully slam a sestina– but that didn’t stop our first round of slammers from taking this complex six-stanzas-plus form to the field of battle. After a quick sonnet sacrifice from Jonah Comstock, Sophia Holtz took the stage with an intense and seasonal sonnet with a view of the Twin Towers: Nathan Comstock met her on Gotham territory with a persona poem from one Robin to another, but despite similarly enthusiastic audience response, Nathan’s score did not hold up, advancing Sophia to the next round. Lip Manegio and Kieran Collier faced off in the second pairing, with Lip bringing a nuanced poem in a father’s voice to the stage, and Kieran putting forth a sexily conflicted sestina set in the gym; Kieran took this round, setting him up against Sophia in the sonnet head-to-head. On the back half of the pairing, George Abraham elicited gasps from the audience with a daring erasure to produce his form’s final tercet (THAT’S RIGHT, SESTINAS ARE DARING), but the score couldn’t hold up to Myles Taylor accelerating into an on-brand Poetry Magazine call-out. The final pairing of the sestina round was a host-vs-host affair, with Cassandra de Alba taking on the complex persona of English convict Mary Bell and Zeke digging deep for a journey into sobriety: Cassandra took the round to head to the second round against Myles.

The second round showed off four sonnets of varying form and modernity from the semi-final poets. Sophia opened with a classic Shakespearean form questioning the country’s greatness through the lens of WWII to today; this was narrowly defeated by Kieran with a grief sonnet in the same form. The other side of the bracket was also a tight pairing, starting with a more modern sonnet with ode pretensions on the subject of Myles’ humble mole; subsequent raucous crowd response for Cassandra’s “Three Sonnets with Room for a Ghost” was not reflected in the score, sending Myles to the final round for an all-Emerson College Ode Battle. Kieran opened the final with a sweet body-positive ode combining themes from his first two poems, while Myles clapped back with a brash ode to the latest decor (have you heard? it’s very loud, surely you have heard) of the Cantab Lounge. When the Ode Dust cleared, Kieran was left standing with the highest score, and a cool $25 in one hand. Congrats to Myles for achieving a tie for most poems read in the slam; we’re happy to give our runner-up free admission to the show next week!

Oh, and next week? We’re only having TWO features instead of one: Julia Gaskill and Stephen Meads are on the road from Portland, Oregon, with poems about dogs and lumberjacks and being in a body to perform for you. It’s our usual open mic that Wednesday, but if you’re looking for a slam, mark your calendars for our next competition: it’ll be all ghost stories at the upcoming slam on October 31.

Tips from the Bar: Excavation

A recent archaeological dig in Melbourne unearthed more than a thousand teeth extracted by a 19th-century dentist’s office.

What horrors will future investigators discover in your own ruins?

Cantab Slam for Wednesday, September 12, 2018: SSO What Slam?

The Boston Poetry Slam is excited to kick off a new wild ‘n’ boisterous slam series with the most controversial and fiery slam theme possible: Formal Poetry. We expect bloodthirsty competition to ensue given the following head-to-head slam format:

  • First round: SESTINA.
  • Second round: SONNET.
  • Third round: ODE.

Any necessary tiebreakers will be conducted in HAIKU. The top prize for the slam is $25!

UPDATE: the roster for tonight’s slam is full! Audience will be pleased to witness the following murderers’ row of formal composers:
Sophia Holtz
Zeke Russell
Myles Taylor
Cassandra de Alba
Kieran Collier
Nathan Comstock
Lip Manegio
George Abraham

Warm-up poets with a sestina (or sonnet) are still being accepted to the show. Please email slammaster@bostonpoetryslam.com for more info, or walk in and chat with any of the night’s hosts.

Want to judge the slam? Judges with strong ideas about sestina composition as well as judges with strong ideas about which well liquor pairs well with a rowdy poetry reading are equally welcome: no experience is necessary, or even desired. Email slammaster@bostonpoetryslam.com to get in free and have your very own whiteboard to hold.

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