Cantab Feature for Wednesday, February 7, 2018: Hanif Abdurraqib

Columbus writer Hanif Abdurraqib. Photo by Andy Cenci.

Columbus writer Hanif Abdurraqib. Photo by Andy Cenci.

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism has been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length collection, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry, and was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book prize. With Big Lucks, he released a limited edition chapbook called Vintage Sadness in summer 2017 (you cannot get it anymore and he is very sorry.) His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio. He is a Callaloo Creative Writing Fellow, an interviewer at Union Station Magazine, a poetry editor at Muzzle Magazine, and a member of the poetry collective Echo Hotel with poet/essayist Eve Ewing.

Tonight’s event will be preceded by an early-bird workshop with the feature. Please note that there is limited space in this workshop and advance sign-ups are recommended; see this page for details.

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 Recap for Wednesday, January 21, 2018

It took us two Wednesdays, Cantabbers, but we finally finished up the first round (two poems each from nineteen slammers) of the 2018 Team Selection Slams! Our second heat closed out last night, a strong field taking deeply personal work unto the prelim. After two rounds, the dust cleared to reveal:

1. Neiel Israel 57.1
2. John Pinkham 55.9
3. Anna Binkovitz 55.2
4. RebeccaLynn 55.1
5. Sara Mae 54.9
6. Myles Taylor 54.5

7. Colin Killick
8. Lindsey Michelle
9. José Zepeda
DNS: Lyra de Castro

The top six poets (in bold) are invited to advance to Semi-Finals on February 21. Once again, big ups to to to our two sacrificial poets, Zeke Russell and Sophia Holtz, and some very serious, spotlight-dodging judges: Niva, Sarah, Eric & Sara, Tiffany, and Omar.

Next week: we wish you a happy Black History Month! Get your February started right by sitting down to listen up to one of the very best in the biz, a certain Ohioan Hanif Abdurraqib, who’ll be bringing essay excepts from They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us and some brand.new.poems to the stage. This show will absolutely sell out, so please arrive early (before door time, for instance) if you are hoping for a seat/spot on the open mic/mind blown right open on a Wednesday night.

On February 7, Hanif Abdurraqib will lead a pre-show workshop at the Cantab with limited space. Please email slammaster@bostonpoetryslam.com for details.

Tips from the Bar: Adam in the Cluuuuuub

Find a story about your favorite celebrity or fictional character acting out of character: a sincere celebrity being funny, or Eeyore dancing the Macarena, etc. Explain why it happened. Your explanation does not have to be real, only as true as you can make it.

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, January 31, 2018: Team Selection Preliminaries (Second Heat)

New year, new slam team time! The Cantab’s Team Selection Slams have always been the venue’s biggest, wildest poetry slams of the season. Up to TWENTY-ONE POETS will slam in these preliminary heats, which will be presented as a one-two punch over two Wednesdays this January.

The following ten poets have been placed in this second heat (random draw for order):

  • Anna Binkovitz
  • Colin Killick
  • John Pinkham
  • José Zepeda
  • Lyra de Castro
  • Myles Taylor
  • Neiel Israel
  • RebeccaLynn
  • Sara Mae
  • Last Chance Slam Winner (TBD 1/17): Lindsey Michelle
  • sacrifices: two poets TBD

This event is the second prelim slam of two! The rest of the field will already have competed at the January 24 heat, and the top six poets from each will advance to the February 21 Semi-Finals, with sights set on the March 21 Finals. The top five poets at the end of the series will comprise the 2018 Boston Poetry Slam Team, who will travel to the National Poetry Slam in Chicago, Illinois this August.

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. A SHORTENED open mic begins at 8:00 and the slam begins at approximately 9:30. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $5; proceeds will go toward funding the team’s trip to the National Poetry Slam.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, January 24, 2018

And so it begins… The first night of our 2018 Team Selection Slams is in the books, with another prelim heat to go before we finalize our roster for semi-finals. This week’s field was strong and getting stronger, with rookies coming out of the woodwork and local veterans digging deep with new work. Check the standings after two rounds:

1. Brandon Melendez 55.4
2. George Abraham 55.0
3. Kieran Collier 54.6
4. Allison Truj 54.3
5. Meaghan Ford 53.9
6. Evan Cutts 53.1

7. Lip McDonald
8. Jackie Perry
9. Suzanne O’Toole
10. Cassandra de Alba
DNS: Kye Jasper

The top six poets (in bold) are invited to advance to Semi-Finals on February 21. Especial thanks go to to our two sacrificial poets, Mugs Myers and Mckendy Fils-Aimé, and a great compliment of hard-working judges: Mackenzie, Jonathan, Whitney, Becca, and Ashakie!

Next week: we come right backatcha with ten more poets fighting for spots in semis. A $5 cover will get you a two-round show with Anna Binkovitz, Colin Killick, John Pinkham, José Zepeda, Lyra de Castro, Myles Taylor, Neiel Israel, RebeccaLynn, Sara Mae, and Last Chance Slam Winner Lindsey Michelle! HOLY COW WHAT A SHOW: pack up your listening hat, your judgingest friends, and a little extra cash for the bar. See you there!

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, January 24, 2018: Team Selection Preliminaries (First Heat)

New year, new slam team time! The Cantab’s Team Selection Slams have always been the venue’s biggest, wildest poetry slams of the season. Up to TWENTY-ONE POETS will slam in these preliminary heats, which will be presented as a one-two punch over two Wednesdays this January.

The following eleven poets have been placed in this first heat (random draw for order):

  • Allison Truj
  • Brandon Melendez
  • Cassandra de Alba
  • George Abraham
  • Evan Cutts
  • Jackie Perry
  • Kieran Collier
  • Kye Jasper
  • Lip McDonald
  • Meaghan Ford
  • Suzanne O’Toole
  • sacrifices: two poets TBD

This event is only the first prelim slam of two! The rest of the field will compete at the January 31 heat, and the top six poets from each will advance to the February 21 Semi-Finals, with sights set on the March 21 Finals. The top five poets at the end of the series will comprise the 2018 Boston Poetry Slam Team, who will travel to the National Poetry Slam in Chicago, Illinois this August.

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. A SHORTENED open mic begins at 8:00 and the slam begins at approximately 9:30. The show is 18+ (ID required) and the cover charge is $5; proceeds will go toward funding the team’s trip to the National Poetry Slam.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hot January greatness, Cantab! The gusts of our enthusiastic industrial heater were no match for the hair-blown-back level of sweetness and grace from last night’s feature, Nancy Huang. This welcoming, thoughtful, and dexterous writer shook us into and out of our bodies on a journey through her first collection, Favorite Daughter. Nancy’s in New York for her next round of gigs tonight, but you can still get her book straight from the publisher at the link!

The Last Chance Slam, as expected, was an extremely exciting roster of six. Eventual finalists Mugs and Lindsey Michelle defeated past slam team competitors and finalists, plus two where-did-that-come-from rookies, to reach the last head-to-head round! When the dust cleared around these two of-late regulars, it was Lindsey Michelle standing victorious. Lindsey is now ten bucks richer and gets to advance to the January 31 team selection heat

Wait, does that mean that THIS COMING WEDNESDAY is the first night of team selection slams? Omigosh, you betcha, /other Midwestern-style epithets here/! Join us on January 24 as eleven slammers fight for the first six spots in semi-finals: Allison Truj, Brandon Melendez, Cassandra de Alba, George Abraham, Evan Cutts, Jackie Perry, Kieran Collier, Kye Jasper, Lip McDonald, Meaghan Ford and Suzanne O’Toole will go two rounds in a grand melee to kick off our 2018 selection process. Remember that it’ll cost you $5 to get in that night to help fundraise for the eventual team, and boyo would we love it if you brought a new listener along to judge!

Cantab Feature for Wednesday, January 17, 2018: Nancy Huang

Nancy Huang, Write Bloody Chapbook Contest winner and VONA alum. Photo by the author.

Nancy Huang, Write Bloody Chapbook Contest winner and VONA alum. Photo by the author.

Nancy grew up in America and China. She is a winner of the 2016 Write Bloody Poetry Chapbook contest, an Andrew Julius Gutow Academy of American Poets Prize, a Regents Arts & Humanities Award finalist, a James F. Parker Award in Poetry, a 2015 YoungArts Finalist prize, and more. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Vinyl, Bodega Magazine, TRACK//FOUR, Winter Tangerine Review, The Shade Journal, and others. She was a member of UT Spitshine, and competed/resisted at CUPSI 2017 in Chicago, where all her poems were nominated for Best of the Rest. She is an alum of VONA and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop summer graduate session. Her debut poetry collection, Favorite Daughter, is available on Write Bloody Publishing. Visit her at nancyjhuang.com.

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

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What a 2018 we are having so far, Cantabbers! Folks who made it out to the venue last night (hoo boy, there were lots of you) were treated to a rare feature from Northampton’s Jelal Huyler, a brilliantly engaging artist with an enviably deft hand at comedy, irony, hip-hop, and free metaphor, all wrapped in a welcoming call-and-response theme. Congratulations to the lucky folks who caught this memorable mid-winter headliner.

Of course, one catch-a-shooting-star event in a night isn’t enough for the Cantab, right? Last evening’s show was capped by the year’s opening Champion of Champions Slam, wherein four poets dared to step to RebeccaLynn, longtime bartender and nearly as longtime reigning champ. The season championship head-to-head featured a heads-up match between 2017 teammates Brandon Melendez and Myles Taylor, once in which the Emerson coach finally surpassed the Emerson slammer! (Enjoy that while you can, B…) Brandon earned the opportunity to advance to the Championship round, and after some dramatic dithering, Brandon did indeed challenge friend and tequila shot buddy RebeccaLynn for the title. Was it worth it? You tell us: by a score of 3-2 and with good sports all around, Brandon Melendez is our newly minted Champion of Champions. Congratulations to Brandon, and a warm round of applause to our departing champ and continuing bartender RebeccaLynn.

Next week: yes, we can follow that show! January 17 will welcome Write Bloody chapbook contest winner Nancy Huang to the stage, and the open poetry slam will be the absolute Last Chance event to qualify one more poet for the 2018 Team Selection Slams.

Tips from the Bar: Rejected!

Write a rejection letter for a condition or event that you politely decline to acknowledge as acceptable in your life.