Boston Poetry Slam Says Goodbye to the Cantab Lounge

Hello, Cantabbers: this is your slam curator speaking. It has been a spring and summer of many griefs, and to this I am sad to officially add the loss of our historical home, the stage that has housed the Boston Poetry Slam since October 16, 1992. Word went out today, Sunday, July 19, that our home venue, the beloved and oft-fondly-maligned Cantab Lounge, will not reopen. The business is expected to be announced for sale.

The global pandemic, the fluctuation of official response to the health crisis, and the impossibility of guessing the shape of live art to come mean this: even before the shuttering of our home venue, I could not predict what the future of the Boston Poetry Slam might be. I want to extend gratitude to everyone who has offered us support and joy and attended our Extremely Online readings, curated spontaneously and lovingly by Lip Manegio and Myles Taylor. With respect to all of our staff’s need to refresh and regroup, the EO readings and BPS operations will be on hiatus until further notice, irrespective of any further developments at the Cantab Lounge itself. If you aren’t already connected to other opportunities for online poetry community, please email me for suggestions.

For those here for further details, or with heartache to process over missing the space, you already know: the Boston Poetry Slam is not a place. It’s not a loss of a person, or the way a poet you just met thinks about language: we’ll only be missing a half-dozen sticky barstools, a cold cement floor where pub glasses go to die, a certain slant of light that confounds would-be videographers and shakes that fourth stanza you thought you memorized right out of your pockets. Our bar is closed, and closing, but our community remains whole.

So, of course, the Boston Poetry Slam is not the Cantab Lounge: and yet, you know it also always will be. The bar hosted the weekly show longer than most of our current regulars have walked this earth, and the name is nationally synonymous with the scene, community, and sound that have come from the stage over the years. If you ever mentioned you were from Boston at a slam event, you were likely to hear (among other things): “Are you Cantab?” I hear from poets all the time (secretly, generously) who promise me there is no place in the world like the place. Regulars from five, ten, twenty years ago return on a whim, on a Wednesday, to re-introduce themselves to poetry in the same basement, under the same pounding blues and leaking pipes. And poets leave knowing that when they need to come back, Cantab will be waiting.

If Cantab has ever been home for you: I’m sorry that it won’t wait for us still. I’ve spent tonight reaching out to our founders, our hosting and support staff, our bartenders, our old guard slam and modern era teams, our champs and national reps, and anyone I could think of who felt ownership of this not-big-enough-for-its-hearts space. I missed some of you; the people I can’t connect to directly are countless and impossible, and so I hope this message reaches you. If you ever thought: I’ll go down there and read someday. Or: I’ll get back there and read someday. Or: I’ll take someone else who needs it there someday. I hope and wait for that wish to come true, wherever the next there happens to be.

Thank you for all the years so far. Don’t forget that you’re Cantab, wherever you are.

–simone
Simone Beaubien
Slam Curator, Boston Poetry Slam

Quarantining with the Boston Poetry Slam

As of March 16, 2020, the Boston Poetry Slam announced that our shows in physical space will be cancelled until further notice. In the interest of public health, as well as promoting a culture of safety in our community of artists, we plan to adhere to state, local, and medical guidelines for as long as is necessary and appropriate.

We continue to hold space for open mic readers and featured poets with a weekly Wednesday reading, the Extremely Online series. This series is hosted on Zoom and curated by Lip Manegio and Myles Taylor. For the most up-to-date information on EO shows, including weekly events and conference links, please visit the Boston Poetry Slam on Facebook.

We look forward to seeing you again. Please be safe, care for yourself and others, and write and listen often.

Extremely Online WORKSHOP for June 10, 2020: Alternate Names with Myles Taylor

In accordance with public health concerns, the Boston Poetry Slam has canceled all local events. Instead, we offer the Extremely Online open mic and feature series, weekly on Wednesdays in our usual time slot.

This Extremely Online show takes place via the free online meeting platform Zoom. A Zoom link to access the conference will be posted at 7:40 and the workshop will begin around 8:00 (admission will close at 8:15 to hold space for participants in discussion and writing); optional sharing time will follow the workshop. To gain access to the show, please use the links posted in the Facebook event on the night of the show.

ABOUT THE WORKSHOP LEADER: MYLES TAYLOR
Myles Taylor (they/them) is a transmasculine poet, organizer, award-winning poetry slam competitor, barista, Emerson College alum, Capricorn-Aquarius cusp, and glitter enthusiast. They run Moonlighting: A Queer Open Mic and host at the Boston Poetry Slam. Their work can be found in The Shallow Ends, Academy of American Poets, Washington Square Review, Underblong, Crab Fat Magazine, Slamfind, and others.

ABOUT THE WORKSHOP: ALTERNATE NAMES
In this generative workshop, we will analyze and write through the concept of naming, both the act of naming and the weight of carrying a name. We will read works by Danez Smith, Franny Choi, Robbie Dunning, and others. Directive prompts will be provided, and there will be an opportunity to share your work at the end. No one will be required to share. Poets should come equipped with their own writing utensils and kindness for themselves and others.

Participants are reminded that poetry may contain some strong language, adult themes, and unfiltered ideas; we ask those sharing to remember to be kind and respectful of a diverse listening experience, and to provide trigger warnings when appropriate.

Workshop cost is Pay What You Can, with a suggested donation of $3 via CashApp to $BostonPoetrySlam. No one will be turned away for lack of funds, and Black poets are explicitly invited to attend the workshop at no cost. 100% of proceeds will go to the Mass Bail Fund, and the BPS will use our operating budget to match donations made from 7pm to midnight tonight. Inquiries may be directed to co-curators Lip Manegio and Myles Taylor.

Extremely Online for Wednesday, June 3, 2020: Asia Bryant-Wilkerson

In accordance with public health concerns, the Boston Poetry Slam has canceled all local events. Instead, we offer the Extremely Online open mic and feature series, weekly on Wednesdays in our usual time slot.

This Extremely Online show takes place via the free online meeting platform Zoom. A link to signups for the open mic will open at 7:15, and the Zoom link will be posted at 7:40. Open mic begins at 8:00 with the feature to follow around 9:15. To gain access to the show, please use the links posted in the Facebook event on the night of the show.

L.A. artist Asia Bryant-Wilkerson. Photo credit pending.

L.A. artist Asia Bryant-Wilkerson. Photo credit pending.

Asia Bryant-Wilkerson is a poet and installation artist from Los Angeles, California. She recently finished an MFA in Performance Studies at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn researching the performance and consumption of Black Trauma in art spaces. She has competed on numerous poetry slam teams and coaches the Penn State Poetry Slam Team, the 2019 CUPSI Champions.

Cover charge is Pay What You Can, with a suggested donation of $3 via CashApp to $BostonPoetrySlam. Listeners are reminded that poetry may contain some strong language, adult themes, and unfiltered ideas; we ask our open mic participants to provide trigger warnings when appropriate, and to remember to be kind and respectful of a diverse listening experience. This series was founded by Lip Manegio is co-curated by Myles Taylor.

Extremely Online for Wednesday, May 27, 2020: Adrienne Novy

In accordance with public health concerns, the Boston Poetry Slam has canceled all local events. Instead, we offer the Extremely Online open mic and feature series, weekly on Wednesdays through the month of May 2020.

This Extremely Online show takes place via the free online meeting platform Zoom. A link to signups for the open mic will open at 7:15, and the Zoom link will be posted at 7:40. Open mic begins at 8:00 with the feature to follow around 9:15. To gain access to the show, please use the links posted in the Facebook event on the night of the show.

Pushcard Prize nominee Adrienne Novy. Photo credit pending.

Pushcard Prize nominee Adrienne Novy. Photo credit pending.

Adrienne Novy is a Jewish and disabled artist, Bettering American Poetry and Pushcart Prize nominee currently living in Saint Paul, MN. She is the author of trisomy 22 and Crowd Surfing With God (Half Mystic Press, 2018). Her most recent work can be found in Glass: A Poetry Journal, Homology Lit, Crab Fat Magazine, and forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys and VagabondCity Lit. She loves My Chemical Romance and she loves being alive.

Cover charge is Pay What You Can, with a suggested donation of $3 via CashApp to $BostonPoetrySlam. Listeners are reminded that poetry may contain some strong language, adult themes, and unfiltered ideas; we ask our open mic participants to provide trigger warnings when appropriate, and to remember to be kind and respectful of a diverse listening experience. This series was founded by Lip Manegio is co-curated by Myles Taylor.

Extremely Online for Wednesday, May 20, 2020: Jess Rizkallah

In accordance with public health concerns, the Boston Poetry Slam has canceled all local events. Instead, we offer the Extremely Online open mic and feature series, weekly on Wednesdays through the month of May 2020.

This Extremely Online show takes place via the free online meeting platform Zoom. A link to signups for the open mic will open at 7:15, and the Zoom link will be posted at 7:40. Open mic begins at 8:00 with the feature to follow around 9:15. To gain access to the show, please use the links posted in the Facebook event on the night of the show.

Etal Adnan prizewinner Jess Rizkallah. Photo courtesy of her mom.

Etal Adnan prizewinner Jess Rizkallah. Photo courtesy of her mom.

Jess Rizkallah is a Lebanese-American writer and illustrator. Her full-length collection THE MAGIC MY BODY BECOMES was a finalist for The Believer Poetry Award and won the 2017 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize as awarded by the Radius of Arab-American Writers and University of Arkansas Press. Find her at jessrizkallah.com.

Extremely Online for Wednesday, May 13, 2020: Gabriel Ramirez

In accordance with public health concerns, the Boston Poetry Slam has canceled all local events. Instead, we offer the Extremely Online open mic and feature series, weekly on Wednesdays through the month of May 2020.

This Extremely Online show takes place via the free online meeting platform Zoom. A link to signups for the open mic will open at 7:15, and the Zoom link will be posted at 7:40. Open mic begins at 8:00 with the feature to follow around 9:15. To gain access to the show, please use the links posted in the Facebook event on the night of the show.

Widely published NYC poet Gabriel Ramirez. Photo credit pending.

Widely published NYC poet Gabriel Ramirez. Photo credit pending.

Gabriel Ramirez is a Queer Afro-Latinx poet, activist, and teaching artist. Gabriel has received fellowships from The Conversation Literary Arts Festival, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, The Watering Hole, CantoMundo and Callaloo. Gabriel has performed on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre, United Nations, Lincoln Center, Apollo Theatre and other venues & universities around the nation. Gabriel was featured in Huffington Post, VIBE Magazine, Blavity, Upworthy, The Flama, and Remezcla. You can find his work in various spaces, including Youtube, and in publications like The Volta, Split This Rock, Winter Tangerine, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, VINYL, and in Bettering American Poetry Anthology (Bettering Books 2017), What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump (Northwestern University Press 2019) and The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNEXT (Haymarket Press 2020) Learn more about Gabriel at RamirezPoet.com

Cover charge is Pay What You Can, with a suggested donation of $3 via CashApp to $BostonPoetrySlam. Listeners are reminded that poetry may contain some strong language, adult themes, and unfiltered ideas; we ask our open mic participants to provide trigger warnings when appropriate, and to remember to be kind and respectful of a diverse listening experience. This series was founded by Lip Manegio is co-curated by Myles Taylor.

Extremely Online for Wednesday, May 6, 2020: Maya Williams

In accordance with public health concerns, the Boston Poetry Slam has canceled all local events. Instead, we offer the Extremely Online open mic and feature series, continuing weekly on Wednesdays throughout May 2020.

This Extremely Online show takes place via the free online meeting platform Zoom. A link to signups for the open mic will open at 7:15, and the Zoom link will be posted at 7:40. Open mic begins at 8:00 with the feature to follow around 9:15. To gain access to the show, please use the links posted in the Facebook event link (forthcoming) on the night of the show.

Portland poet and essayist Maya Williams. Photo by Gary Stallsworth.

Portland poet and essayist Maya Williams. Photo by Gary Stallsworth.

Maya Williams (she/they) is a Black and Mixed Race suicide survivor residing in Portland, Maine always writing and asking to give you a hug. Maya has published poems in glitterMOB, The Portland Press Herald, Black Table Arts, Occulum, and more. She has also published essays in Rooted in Rights, Black Youth Project, The Tempest, and more. They are a Best of the Net Nominee and a winner of PortFringe’s Patron’s Choice Award for their spoken word showcase “When Speaking to An Extraterrestrial” in 2019. You can find Maya hosting open mics at Bull Feeney’s Tuesday nights in Portland’s Old Port and facilitating writing workshops Sunday mornings at Quill Books & Beverage in Westbrook. You can visit Maya on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, or at their personal website.

Cover charge is Pay What You Can, with a suggested donation of $3 via CashApp to $BostonPoetrySlam. Listeners are reminded that poetry may contain some strong language, adult themes, and unfiltered ideas; we ask our open mic participants to provide trigger warnings when appropriate, and to remember to be kind and respectful of a diverse listening experience. This series was founded by Lip Manegio is co-curated by Myles Taylor.

Extremely Online for Wednesday, April 29, 2020: Cassandra Myers

In accordance with public health concerns, the Boston Poetry Slam has canceled all local events. Instead, we offer the Extremely Online open mic and feature series, weekly on Wednesdays for the month of April 2020.

This Extremely Online show takes place via the free online meeting platform Zoom. A link to signups for the open mic will open at 7:15, and the Zoom link will be posted at 7:40. Open mic begins at 8:00 with the feature to follow around 9:15. To gain access to the show, please use the links posted in the Facebook event on the night of the show.

Poet Cassandra Myers of Tkaronto. Photo by Evan Roy.

Poet Cassandra Myers of Tkaronto. Photo by Evan Roy.

Cassandra Myers (they/she) is an emerging poet from Tkaronto. She was awarded the Best Poet at the 2018 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational and a Canadian National Poetry Slam team champion with the 2018 Toronto Poetry Slam team. An MSW candidate at York University, Cassandra is an arts-activist and organizer, running poetry workshops for youth living on the margins. Their work can be found in Overheard Lit, UncommonYOU, and forthcoming in ARC Poetry Magazine.

Cover charge is Pay What You Can, with a suggested donation of $3 via CashApp to $BostonPoetrySlam. Listeners are reminded that poetry may contain some strong language, adult themes, and unfiltered ideas; we ask our open mic participants to provide trigger warnings when appropriate, and to remember to be kind and respectful of a diverse listening experience. This series was founded by Lip Manegio is co-curated by Myles Taylor.

Extremely Online for Wednesday, April 22, 2020: Cassandra de Alba

In accordance with public health concerns, the Boston Poetry Slam has canceled all local events. Instead, we offer the Extremely Online open mic and feature series, weekly on Wednesdays for the month of April 2020.

This Extremely Online show takes place via the free online meeting platform Zoom. A link to signups for the open mic will open at 7:15, and the Zoom link will be posted at 7:40. Open mic begins at 8:00 with the feature to follow around 9:15. To gain access to the show, please use the links posted in the Facebook event on the night of the show.

Local favorite and metaphorical deer hunter Cassandra de Alba. Photo by Emily Cataneo.

Local favorite and metaphorical deer hunter Cassandra de Alba. Photo by Emily Cataneo.

Our originally scheduled feature, Jess Rizkallah, will be rescheduled for later in the season. Instead, we present local favorite and touchstone Cassandra de Alba. Cassandra de Alba is a poet living in Massachusetts. Her chapbooks habitats (Horse Less Press, 2016) and ORB (Reality Hands, 2018) are about deer and the moon, respectively, and Ugly/Sad was released by Glass Poetry Press in 2020. She is a co-host at the Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge and an associate editor at Pizza Pi Press.

Cover charge is Pay What You Can, with a suggested donation of $3 via CashApp to $BostonPoetrySlam. Listeners are reminded that poetry may contain some strong language, adult themes, and unfiltered ideas; we ask our open mic participants to provide trigger warnings when appropriate, and to remember to be kind and respectful of a diverse listening experience. This series was founded by Lip Manegio is co-curated by Myles Taylor.


We look forward to welcoming our postponed feature in the near future:

Etal Adnan prizewinner Jess Rizkallah. Photo courtesy of her mom.

Etal Adnan prizewinner Jess Rizkallah. Photo courtesy of her mom.

Jess Rizkallah is a Lebanese-American writer and illustrator. Her full-length collection THE MAGIC MY BODY BECOMES was a finalist for The Believer Poetry Award and won the 2017 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize as awarded by the Radius of Arab-American Writers and University of Arkansas Press. Find her at jessrizkallah.com.