Tips from the Bar: Cellar Door Prompt

As part of Claudia Wilson’s workshop this evening, participants were asked to name their favorite word, or favorite word of the moment. A two-pronged prompt:

Use your favorite word of the moment to prompt a poem, but don’t use that word

or

Ask someone else for their favorite word, and write a poem that supports or refutes their choice.

Additional inspiration: a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien on the words “cellar door.”

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, February 20, 2019: Claudia M. Wilson

MFA student, teacher, and Game Over Books author Claudia M. Wilson. Photo courtesy of the artist.

MFA student, teacher, and Game Over Books author Claudia M. Wilson. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Claudia M. Wilson is a poet, instructor, and social worker who lives and plays in Amherst, MA. They have featured at various venues in Ohio & Boston such as Writer’s Block, Fazenda Queer Reading, & Oberon. Claudia’s present work in progress centers embodiment, familial relationships, blackness and living in the woods, and WWF wrestlers from the mid-80’s. They do creative community play in two collectives: the Mass Collective and the Black Girl Slumber Party Collective. Claudia studied English & Black Literature at The Ohio State University and is a TWH & VONA graduate. Their forthcoming chapbook GROWN is published through Game Over Books Press and is about Claudia’s time in foster care. They study poetry at Umass Amherst and they live in the woods with their cat Pablo a.k.a Lil Pooder a.k.a Pooderbutt. Claudia is an avid watcher of Game of Thrones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Westworld. They are originally from Cleveland & Columbus, Ohio.

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, February 13, 2019

Drama! Heartbreak! Masquerade! Not having to get a stupid dinner reservation for two people at a stupid restaurant! Thanks to everyone who came out this past week for the best non-holiday-eve ever, as the Lovers and the Leavers slammed off in a head-to-head Totally Not Fixed poetry slam hosted by a decidedly objective Zeke Russell. In true Cantab fashion, some of our finest Lovers showed up to sweep their matchups, but the crowd’s will for the Leavers was strong. Congratulations to everybody, seriously everybody, who wrote a new poem in the very middle of February to make this an exceptional night.

February rolls on, of course, and it’s all really good. This week, the Boston Poetry Slam is exceptionally pleased to present Claudia M. Wilson as our Wednesday headliner; Claudia will be swinging in from Amherst with their new chapbook, GROWN, totally hot off the presses to share with you. Poets interested in a revision workshop with Claudia should plan to arrive early for the show: please see our workshop event details to join in.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, February 13, 2019: NO ROMANCE Open Mic and the Lovers vs. Leavers Slam

For Valentine’s Day this year, the Boston Poetry Slam will not offer a specific Erotic Open Mic for the Wednesday closest to the “holiday;” instead, the reading presents a NO ROMANCE open mic, at which the one-off stylings of would-be Casanovas shall be soundly mocked. Proper erotica (note that “consent” is a non-negotiable component of erotica), fanfic/shipping, or professions of aromantic love to your best friend, dog, or favorite comfy sweater will be warmly welcomed. Bingo cards (good for nearly valueless prizes) will be offered to those audience members parties interested in ensuring the success of the No Romance rule.

Of course, if you’ve got the sensible stamina to last the open mic, then you’ll want to stick around for the high-stakes poetry slam thereafter: romantics clash with realists/believers with cynics/rose gardeners with thorn-gatherers in the head-to-head Lovers vs. Leavers poetry slam. The following poets will appear (order will be randomized):

LOVERS TEAM LEAVERS TEAM TOPIC
Capt. Joshua Elbaum Capt. Meaghan Ford “Peach Emoji”
Mugs Myers Natalie Florescu “No Scrubs”
Emily Duggan James Merenda “Send Nudes”
Chloé Cunha Katya Zinn “First Date”
Becca Mackenzie Thea Harris “Silent Movie”
Kieran Collier Myles Taylor “Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic”
Amy Mevorach Charlotte Charlie “Just in Time”
sac: Truj sac: Cali Stenson “Rock Bottom”

This poetry slam will be hosted by cynical lover and lover of cynicism Zeke Russell. Prospective judges of any allegiance are encouraged to email slamseries@bostonpoetryslam.com to get free admission in exchange for scoring the slam.

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.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, February 6, 2019

It’s a good week to be a Cantabber, folks: despite a travel snafu for our Dallas-sourced feature, a hearty crowd turned out for the open mic and geared up for a great-quality open poetry slam! It’s been all-themed-slams-all-the-time around here since last September, but if you think that means we’re out of practice, you should guess again. A full line-up of eight competitors, some wily slam veterans and some first-time readers, took the stage with metaphors in hand and starry dreams of the $25 prize in their eyes. At the end of the night, there was much rejoicing in awarding top honors to Mugs Myers, who took the final round over surprise returnee Jamie Nelson. Both finalists qualify for our upcoming National Poetry Month slam series (details forthcoming, but they’re gonna be good).

Also, we are hella grateful for the extra-special capper for the night: after traveling for a grueling and discouraging twelve hours, genuine professional Wayne Henry arrived just in time to catch the last round of the slam, and graciously agreed to perform a poem to finish the night. If you caught it, you are way mad at a certain national bus company right now for messing with his originally booked feature, but we hope you’ll catch him at Slam Free or Die on Thursday, February 7, for his full set there.

Next week: folks, a dreadful pseudo-holiday looms, but never fear… The Cantab knows exactly how to handle such ridiculous matters. On Wednesday, February 13, we shall be proud to celebrate a NO ROMANCE open mic (seriously, don’t bring it, do. not. do. it) and a Lovers vs. Leavers themed poetry slam. Come for the no-romance bingo cards created by Cassandra de Alba, stay for Zeke Russell pitting optimists vs. cynics in an all-star poetry slam. Best February ever!

Cantab Update for Wednesday, February 6, 2016: Open Poetry Slam!

Stop the presses, folks! Our headlining event for tonight has changed: after the open mic finishes, we’ll be holding an open poetry slam competition, which means that YOU could bring three poems and fight our judgemental judges’ judgeiness for a $25 cash prize. Standard rules apply: all rounds have a 3-minute time limit with no props, costumes, or musical accompaniment permitted. The top two finishers qualify for the 2019 Boston Poetry Slam team!

If you were looking forward to a feature from Wayne Henry, we are sorry to say that travel complications made it impossible for him to reach us for his feature tonight. Fortunately, you can still catch him tomorrow at Slam Free or Die.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, February 6, 2019: Wayne Henry

Decorated Dallas slammer Wayne Henry. Photo provided by the artist.

Decorated Dallas slammer Wayne Henry. Photo provided by the artist.

Raised in South Central Los Angeles, Wayne Henry was exposed to a melting pot of different cultures which has allowed him to have a broad canvas for his work. Henry has become a passionate poet who writes each line to watch it come alive through poetry. Dedicated to bringing awareness to issues such as mental health, oppression, depression and concepts of spiritual growth. Wayne Henry was a two-time Dallas Poetry Slam Team member and holds the titles of 2017 Dallas Grand Slam Champion, 2018 Black Art Film Festival Slam Champion, and a 5th place finish at the 2018 Individual World Poetry Slam. Aside from poetry, working with the youth has been what the poet feels is his crowning achievement.

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, January 30, 2019

What joy! What joy is this! No, seriously: after a sweet and sassy spotlight from Chris Leja on our already-joyful open mic, eight slammers took the stage in the name of making lemons into sunshine. Egged on by an audience hungry for good news, poets and judges alike buoyed up the possibility of one or more moments of unadulterated rightness in the world. The final pairing came down to a pleasingly-themed punk-rock head-to-head pairing: Zeke Russell edged out Lip Manegio for the victory, and the whole room got a big win with a special sorbet finale by crowd favorite Febo.

Huge thanks to all our fabulous slammers (some of whom will have extra joy poems to spend on the open in coming months, nice), including Myles Taylor, Sarah Gilbert, Max Evans, Emily O’Neill, and Shannee Prudeaux, and some extra-special hat-tips to Joy Gatekeeper James Merenda and sacrifice/slam visionary Sophia Holtz.

This week: oh, is it February already? Are we celebrating it? Are there poems to be heard? Yes, hell yes, and unstoppably yes: this week’s feature will be Wayne Henry, touring poet and top slam champ from Dallas, who’ll be braving New England’s wild weather and notoriously terrible tacos (WE KNOW, AMERICA, WE KNOW) to give us a taste of the Texas sound and craft.

Cantab Slam for Wednesday, January 30, 2019: Joy Slam & Chris Leja Spotlight

The Boston Poetry Slam kicks off the 2019 slam season with a much-needed slam on the theme of Joy! Poets are asked to bring their most joy-focused poems to the stage in a celebration of warmth during these dark days of winter. This slam will be hosted by local ray of sunshine Kieran Collier.

Slam format and cash prizes are contingent on the number of advance sign-ups, but poets should expect to need up to three joyous poems, with standard slam rules in effect. To sign up for the slam and get format updates, please email slamseries@bostonpoetryslam.com.

Judges are also invited to offer their services in advance in return for free admission; please email slamseries@bostonpoetryslam.com. No experience is necessary, or even desired.


Brooklyn-based Portland-sound poet Chris Leja. Photo by Daniel Calfo.

Brooklyn-based Portland-sound poet Chris Leja. Photo by Daniel Calfo.

In excellent mid-winter news, touring poet Chris Leja will offer a spotlight feature to highlight our open mic tonight! Chris Leja is a writer currently based in Brooklyn who has represented the Portland, Oregon area venues six times in national slam competition. His work has appeared in Tandem, Borderline, Unshod Quills, and other journals and anthologies. He’s toured internationally and is a multiple Pushcart nominee. He dropped out of kindergarten, and consequently never learned to share. (Ed. note: Chris will definitely share poems, no fooling.)

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.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Welp, it’s glory days again at the Cantab, folks: sold-out shows have been going down all year (yes, we said that) for exceptional features and sweet&smart open mics every Wednesday. This past week, newcomers and folks in the know were treated to a feature by up-and-coming-and-already-here poet/scientist José Zepeda, who packed a half-hour with the deliberate, delicate, and forthright storytelling he’s come to be known for at our open mics and slams. The poet just might have one or two chapbooks left to sell you; hit him up to buy a physical or electronic copy if you’re lucky enough to catch him at an upcoming open mic.

Oh, and speaking of upcoming: next week we celebrate the fifth Wednesday of the month, and we are excited to present our first ever Joy Slam, with an open mic spotlight from Pacific NW poet Chris Leja! It’s gonna be a big and joyful night in the coldest heart of winter, folks; the slam is jam-packed with all-stars to joy you up, but there are still judging spots left if you want to be part of the show. See you there!