Cantab Recap For Wednesday, July 10th, 2024

Amy: Happy Wednesday, Cantab! I hope you’re all having a lovely summer! Last week we had a particularly amazing night with more newcomers and friendly faces than we could count! One of those first-timers was Callie, with a great poem repeating the phrase “The trouble is.…” Other first timers Ami and Dio gave us beautiful poems as well, making for a very supportive night with several bonus rounds of applause.

Michael: We also had a showstopper of a poem from current slam team member Mary S, regarding whether or not you would have sex with your clone, and a surprising David Attenborough persona piece from Erika. The highlight of the smoking section was an epic “Corn Maze/Maize” themed group piece from our own Amy and Aparna, which involved many people in the audience holding up pictures of corn as they both walked throughout the entire room. Speaking of Aparna, her family was in the audience this past week! Both her and her father read poems based on the same prompt, to the delight of everyone watching.

Amy: The ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ is from Mahathi, with “You’re lucky all we want is equality”

After the open, we had our feature by Blue Nguyen. Blue gave us a more interactive feature, beginning with a grounding exercise, passing an orange around for people to smell, and ending with a communal “group poem” consisting of people in the audience shouting out words or phrases describing what queer love means to them. Outside of that, their clever phrasing and short, cutting lines made for a very profound feature that left you thoughtful and glued to your chair after each poem. Thank you Blue!

Michael: Tonight, we have a fundraiser and hype for the upcoming Northbeast Regional Poetry Slam and Festival, which is happening this weekend at The Foundry in Cambridge! Due to a COVID exposure, the Chicken slam (The BPS slam team vs Their Coaches) that was previously scheduled for tonight will not be happening, but there’ll still be plenty of poetry in our favorite dive bar basement! We’ll be having an extended open mic (with slots extended to 4 minutes for one night only,) some silent auctions for some hot-button items, and plenty of zines for purchase.

See you there! And also at Northbeast this weekend! Get your tickets now if you haven’t already!

– Amy ✈️ and MFG 🚪

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, July 3rd, 2024

Hey Cantab!

Last week was proof you could always count on our wonderful community to bring the energy even in unexpected scenarios! Our mic was packed with talent this Wednesday: 1) Phoebe performed an extended metaphor (a REAL one, John Green, please take note) on standing at the edge of a subway platform 2) Cameron did a poem on Pagliacci the Clown, inspired by Myles’ Pagliacci poem a few months ago (who knows, this may start a Pagliacci trend!) 3) Otto Vock, one of the winners of the previous week’s Tag Team Slam, successfully caused the audience to shake in their collective boots while reminiscing on the time someone told them that “You only like poetry because it’s the only thing you’re good at.” Thank you Otto, and also oof.

The ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ this week is from Edie, with “I will only reopen my wounds to remove the rot”

Back to what I said about this being a very adaptable community, unfortunately Tongo, our feature for last week, had to reschedule for 7/24, so our staff whipped up a great idea for how to fill his slot. After our fabulous open mic we had an incredible three-tiered Haiku Slam! We had three categories: Traditional, Dirty, and Experimental. 14 haiku slammers signed up and battled it out head-to-head—the winners of each pairing determined by audience applause. We had some dirty…. list haiku from Chris, a roast of Myles’ outfit from Cameron, and some beautifully crafted traditional Haiku from newcomer Michael. In the end, Kai won the traditional round, Sam Bucci won the dirty round, and Youssef won the experimental round! Kai with their clever and witty haiku, Sam with her shocking and empowering haiku, and Youssef with his beautiful and mesmerizing haiku. When the three took the stage to declare the ultimate winner, Kai won by a hair! Congrats to all the slammers and thank you to our audience for all the cheers!

This week, our feature is Blue Nguyen! Blue Nguyen (they/he) (Instagram: @blue.ngu and on Twitter: @queerqhost) is a Vietnamese non-binary lesbian poet and community organizer based out of Boston, MA. They have been nominated for Best of the Net Anthology and Best New Poets Anthology. Their poetry can be found at The Mantle Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Protean Magazine, Prolit Magazine, DEAR Poetry Journal, Peach Mag, and more.

See you then!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, June 26th, 2024

Hi Cantabbers, and wow! We had quite the night last week. The energy was absolutely electric from before our sold-out show even began, which became even more noticeable as thunderous cheers and applause were prevalent throughout the opening spiel alone. 

There were so many highlights, so bear with me. Kai and Logan reprised their group piece from NorthBeast last year, which was made extra special by both of their moms being present to hear it. Ruby did an empowering poem on anti-fatness. There was a poem that may have broken the record for number of dad jokes told in poem form within three minutes. First-timer Meredith debuted with a Sisyphus poem on the express lane. Maura did what I will describe as an instant blackout poem, where she read from a text while blacking out portions of it with a sharpie along the way, then reading the leftover lines as a blackout poem. So impressive!!

Also, remember how I mentioned we were sold out? A line to get into the show remained well past 9 pm, and one of the folks waiting to get in was so eager to see the show that he may have offered $200, cash-in-hand, to the bouncer. Officially, we do not condone bribery in any form. Unofficially, that was kind of rad. 

The ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ is from Keaton, with “I am worth the soreness in your mouth in the morning”

We then had our Tag Team Slam, consisting of duos who each did an individual poem, then coming together for a group piece in the final round. We heard heart-wrenching work from Will and Mary, poems ranging from childhood emotional trauma to absurdist ice cream sandwiches from Amy and Aparna, the deeper meanings of niche anime plotlines from Youssef and Sara, but in the end, Otto and Alex took the win! Like their group piece, we were celebrating their names for the rest of the night :) Congrats to Otto and Alex, thank you to all the slammers and judges, and to Michael F. Gill for coming up with the idea for the slam! THIS WEEK! We have the incredible poet laureate of San Francisco – Tongo Eisen-Martin! Edit: Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are saddened to announce we are postponing Tongo Eisen-Martin’s feature that was supposed to take place tonight. We will keep you posted on when this incredible feature will be rescheduled.

In the meantime, DO NOT FRET! We will be having a last-minute haiku-themed night! First, Jade Kleiner will be running a pre-show haiku workshop at 6:30 pm. Suggested donation $10. Workshoppers will also have first access to the open mic. Then, in the feature slot, Jade will be doing a spotlight haiku set, which will be followed by a series of mini haiku slams!

See you then!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, June 19th, 2024

Hello Cantab! We had a unique night this past Wednesday (Juneteenth!), with a slightly shortened open mic to allow room for four spotlight features (and a merch table) from black poets in our community. Our first spotlights were from new regulars Left Eye (who brought down the house with a poem on colonialism) and Donovan Beck (who read a trio of poems that touched on language, black history, and ancestry,) while we later heard a set from mynameisblueskye, a singer-songwriter and aspirational “poet laureate of black autism” that surprised and impressed. Finishing off the spotlights was our own beloved staff member and host, Briana Crockett, who read powerful works from her new chapbook that sold out in minutes!

Our feature was Stephanie Burt, a well-renowned local poet, teacher, and literary critic with a large bibliography of books to her name. Yet this was no academic exercise, it was in actuality a sprawling, genre-spanning, often off-the-cuff feature that felt like it could sustain its momentum for hours. Banter bled into poems bled into audience poem topic requests that were later fulfilled. There was also some really insightful work on how the X-Men and mutants relate to the trans experience, and even a poem about our own Central Square to cap things off. Thank you Stephanie!

By the way, if you haven’t heard, tickets for the 2024 Northbeast Regional are now on sale at Eventbrite! This will be one of the biggest performance poetry weekends of the year, with 16 teams from New England and beyond competing!

This Wednesday, it’s our first-ever tag team slam! Teams of two will face off in a three-round format, where each team member will do an individual poem in the first two rounds, and then perform a group piece together in the final round. The highest cumulative team score wins! Be sure to not miss it!

– MFG 🚪

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, June 12th, 2024

It was an eventful Wednesday at the Cantab this past week, with a lot of memorable lines that had people scurrying to their notebooks. The open mic started with another comedic-persona poem from Cameron, in his “Youth Pastor John” character, and then rolled into Jarvis’ wrestling-themed piece featuring quotable lines like “Less Randy More Savage” and “No Gender Just Champion” that had our staff wishing to see them on a t-shirt or bumper sticker. The amount of excellent wrestling poems this venue has seen over the past couple years continues to grow!

Other open mic highlights included a memorized piece by Cam S (including the line “The only thing more human than art and thumbs is violence,”) Phoebe’s rollicking “Monster F**ker” poem, and fine work from first-timers Maura, Rindala, and Marina. A great night for first timers with names ending in A! As for the smoking section? I heard there was a group piece with the first line being “THE ONLY REASON TO WRITE A GROUP PIECE IS SO YOU CAN SPEAK IN UNISON.” Were you there for that?

Our feature Ellie Black came all the way from Mississippi to read for us, and impressed with a series of razor-sharp memoir-themed poems that went by in the blink of an eye. It’s been a while since someone read a set of short poems so swiftly without seeming rushed or overzealous! Speed, brevity, confidence, and the substance of life: what more could you want from poetry? Thank you Ellie!

This week (tonight!) we will have a feature from Stephanie Burt! Stephanie Burt’s latest book of poems is WE ARE MERMAIDS (Graywolf, 2022). Her next book of literary criticism will be SUPER GAY POEMS (Harvard UP, 2025), an anthology of 50 modern LGBTQ+ poems with her essays about each one. Special interests include the X-Men, obscure pop groups, and of course Taylor Swift. She can even do it with a broken heart.

ADDITIONALLY, we will be having JUNETEENTH SPOTLIGHTS scattered throughout the open mic, along with a Juneteenth merch table for Black poets and creatives to vend their art. Come celebrate with us!

See you soon!

– MFG 🚪

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, June 5th, 2024

Happy Pride, Cantabbers!

We kicked off pride month this week with a lovely open mic and fabulous feature. First on the open mic was Cameron, I mean, Frank Davenport, who gave us a poem about meeting his lovely wife and the genesis of his two children, Kat and Nayeli, that we will… never forget. As it is Pride month, we did have your assortment of poems with a strong yearning theme. Arielle punched me directly in the heart with her poem. Danielle and Katie made a bittersweet appearance as they are both moving, so as a parting gift they gave us poems that were really true to their voices and left a mark on this stage. Lastly, we had MadIntelligent with a lovely, beautiful poem about his daughter. 

The ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ is from David, with “There is no loneliness worse than feeling lonely in someone’s presence

We then had our feature from Dariana Guerrero, whose presence itself really commanded the room as she read about growing up in Lawrence, the power of community, and the strength in family (her mother was in the audience!). Dariana was lovely to have and stayed to chat to discuss bringing the greater Boston poetry community closer together.

This week, our feature is Ellie Black! Ellie Black is a poet, memoirist, and screenwriter originally from Arkansas. She’s currently a PhD student in Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi, where she’s working on a memoir/autotheory project called Real Person Fiction. Winner of the 2023 Pinch Literary Award in Poetry, she has work published in or forthcoming from Washington Square Review, The Drift, Ninth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Mississippi Review, The Offing, Best New Poets, and elsewhere.

See you then!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, May 29th, 2024

Michael: We had another great night this past Wednesday at the Cantab! The open mic featured the returns of old regulars Dank The Poet, Kelsey Kessler, and Ilse (“It’s my 13th time on the mic!”), along with new regulars Phoebe, Abe, and Cam S. Special shoutout to veteran Cantabber Meaghan Ford, who returned with an announcement that they just signed a book deal with Button Poetry! Congrats, Meaghan!

For the smoking section, Nayeli introduced each staff member with a little something that staff member loves about their mom, which was fitting as Nayeli brought her mom to the show!

Myles: I think it is necessary here to mention our own Michael F. Gill, who, during the smoking section, IMPROVISED A CONTRAPUNTAL. That’s right — MFG used voice-to-text to keep track of both of his poems, and the complete read-through gave it a heartwarming conclusion that worked SO well. I can only hope this contrapuntal ends up in the Cantabernacle.

Michael: The✏️ Line of the Wednesday✏️ is from the soon-to-be-leaving-us Jacq Roderick, with “If I knew this was a dream / I would’ve told you I loved you

After the break, we had our first ever CONTRAPUNTAL SLAM, and it turned out to be one of the most competitive slams of the year! In the first two rounds, we heard the left and right side of each poet’s contrapuntal, and let me tell you, EVERYBODY’S poem sounded like a true standalone poem (!!) which made you really ache to hear how each one could come together in the final round. Sadly, we did not get to hear how the two mirrors combined in Logan’s sibling-coming-of-age piece, or how the jagged puzzle pieces of Katya’s familial fever dream look when interlocked, but we did get to witness an incredible final round of FOUR poets (thanks to a tie!) in the end.

Myles: I want to give particular love to Holly and Jennah, whose Cantab debut took place in tonight’s slam! They wrote a GROUP PIECE CONTRAPUNTAL, which we did not hear all of, but that we are very excited to hopefully hear finished on the mic sometime.

The final round was truly one of my favorite last rounds of a slam I’ve ever seen. Isaiah’s contrapuntal wove therapy sessions with collective grief; Will’s MEMORIZED! (that’s right — left, right, and center memorized) piece spoke to cisgendered expectations; Left Eye’s haunting narrative sought freedom for Palestine and homelands everywhere; finally, 2024 grand slam champion Brynna Boyd told us all about Phyllis Wheatley’s desk.

Michael: In the end, by only three-tenths of a point over both Will and Left Eye, Brynna Boyd was crowned the big winer. The slam was such a success we may bring it back next year!

This Wednesday (tonight!) we have a feature from Massachusetts’ own Dariana Guerrero!

Bio: Dariana Guerrero is a Writer. An Activist. A Lightning Strike Survivor. A Scholar. A Warrior. An Educator. A Fat Liberationist from Lawrence, MA. To see her and to experience her is to be inspired and to be moved to a place of acceptance. She is Body Positive Personified. A proud graduate of Lawrence High School (13’), Dariana attended Smith College and graduated in 2017 with a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing. Dariana is all about seeing and being with others in the most authentic way possible. She breathes magic into the words that she brings forth. In 2022, Dariana was named one of Amplify Latinx’s Amplifiers, for uplifting and sharing the voices of those in Lawrence. Her work has been featured in a wide variety of publications and media including, Caustic Frolic Literary Journal, Exposed Brick Literary Magazine, Glass Poetry Journal, Voices and Visions, Women: A Cultural Review, Witness Magazine, Death Never Dies: Mourning 2020 Through the Lives and Deaths of Public Figures, and most recently on daytime talk show, The Tamron Hall Show. In 2023, Dariana was named a Social Practice Artist in Residence in Lawrence and a 2023 national Periplus Fellow. She is a winner of the 2023 Mass Poetry Community Award for her outstanding poetry and community leadership. Last year Dariana competed in her first poetry slam at the Roxbury Poetry Festival co-hosted by Button Poetry. Dariana recently completed her artist book, The Sancocho Shuffle: A Card Deck Con Sabor,” an artistic remix of her book of poetry “Sancocho.”

See you there!

– MFG 🚪 and Myles ✨

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024

Hello Cantabbers! We had a great show this past Wednesday, with open mic highlights galore. March Penn gave us a poem leading with “I’m trying to have a kink, but it’s hard,” Cameron brought a PSA on forgiveness, newcomer Erica Garcia did an extended look into modesty panels, and Sam Bucci moved us all with a piece for her forthcoming chapbook, “Poems My Dad Will Never Read.” Special shoutout to regular reader Kim, who is leaving us for L.A., but gave us a farewell poem where she actually hoped for an MBTA train delay, so she could lengthen and savor her last day in Boston. Come back whenever you are back in town, Kim!

The ✏️ Line of the Wednesday ✏️ is “Today I could not / tie my shoelaces / I was too busy / making a map of loneliness / at the edge of the darker forest” by veteran Cantabber Charlie R.

Right after the open, we had our monthly haiku slam. Or should I say dirty haiku slam, since there was a lot of sexy haiku happening tonight! Highlights include Dakota and Juliet, who read a group piece on the open mic about their bedroom, and then returned to read a group piece haiku, the shy-but-trembling intensity of Allie’s work, and March Penn’s odes to non-genital sex, which received a haiku response by Kat Gunther. In the final round, Allie Burke snuck up to win the $17 prize over Kat Gunther, and both will advance to the haiku tournament later this year!

Our feature was Legacy Thornton, a poet with incredible stage presence who gave us a great set of new and polished work, mostly off-book. Her featured was perfectly paced, with the poems and the banter between them entwining as one. Each piece was given plenty of room to breathe, preferring pauses to speed. The overall effect was like watching a slowly undulating and unraveling sky filling with stars that opened up as time went on. Thank you Legacy!

This Wednesday (tonight!) we have the first-ever Contrapuntal Slam! (At least) eight poets will be able to read the left side of their contrapuntal in the first round, and the right side in the second round, but only the final two poets will be able to read the full poem to the audience to win the coveted $50!

Come on down!

– MFG 🚪

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, May 15th, 2024

Hey Cantab! Last Wednesday was filled with excitement, a crazy-packed waitlist, and as always, a ton of talent. We had regulars on the mic consistently bringing the house down, including Jarvis, Jack the Star, Edie, and Eli. Sam Bucci did an incredible, impassioned poem about working in the fast-food industry, and Kai debuted another horny-medical-professional poem that left us wondering which profession will be next.

The ✏️ Line of the Wednesday ✏️ is “You are written inside of me, as long as I keep moving” by Jess Riz. The OTHER ✏️ Line of the Wednesday ✏️ was “I LOVE YOU,” which appeared multiple times in multiple ways during multiple poems on the open mic! What can we say, something was in the air.  

The feature was Summer Farah, and the room was hot, not just because the AC hadn’t kicked in yet, but because her poems were FIRE. Her distinct tone, striking yet simple imagery, and lines that felt carefully chosen and formed brought a warmth to the room that made for a beautiful feature. She read on both Palestine and Zelda, and both topics had people lining up to buy her book, I could die today and live again, after the feature.

This week, we have Legacy Thornton! Legacy Thornton is a 20 something non-binary Black Womxn (woman-x). Slam poet turned poetry coach turned freelancer, Legacy’s latest accomplishments are that they have a poem featured on Button Poetry, they won second place at the 2023 Roxbury Poetry Festival, and they have performed at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the ICA, and at other locally led initiatives. When they aren’t performing, they work at the US postal service, and nurture the bond they have with themselves and their small communal circles. As a multi hyphenate creative, they seek to understand more about themselves and the communities they inhabit through poetry, singing, and other mediums. They strive to shed more light and affirming representation on gender, sexuality, and the Black experience.

See you then!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, May 8th, 2024

Hi Cantab! This week was full of love, which brought a lot of sunshine to this rainy Wednesday evening. The mic had a larger than normal amount of “new shit,” but also some prized “old shit” too. We had the infamous horny dentist poem from Kai, and we had the return of Lindsey Michelle with a seasoned banger on ADHD. 

During the smoking section, Michael F. Gill and Cameron gave us “a scene from the upcoming Christopher Nolan film about the Boston Poetry Slam,” which may or may not have revealed some absolutely SCATHING truths about the inner workings of this very complex and sophisticated institution. 📚 🕵️ If you know, you know. 🤫 🐔

The ✏️ Line of the Wednesday ✏️ is from Mary S, with “I edge my essence into an engulfing fire, / And it is always ignited and raging”

The feature was the great, beloved March Penn, reading some new shit as well as selections from their book, Green Antelope Fire. We got some dirty haiku, some poems on queer sex, some poems on the human experience, and an unexpected GROUP PIECE on metaphor itself (with help from Michael F. Gill and T.J. Jones). Most importantly, we got to see the world through March Penn’s eyes, which is a treasure in itself. We also had a very high “feature retention rate,” as in the amount of people from the open mic who stayed for the feature! March also sold out of all the books they brought. A very successful feature indeed! 

Next week, our feature is Summer Farah!

Summer Farah is a Palestinian American writer from California. The author of the chapbook I could die today and live again (Game Over Books, 2024), she organizes with the Radius of Arab American Writers and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She is calling on you to recommit yourself to the liberation of the Palestinian people each day.

***Please note: for our show on 5/15 we are requesting that attendees mask up when not drinking or performing!**

See you then!

– Amy ✈️

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