Cantab Recap For Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

What a night! The cold definitely did not stop Cantabbers from coming in droves this past Wednesday. For the first time in a while, we sold out before the show even started! A packed room resulted in a very full open mic — a grand total of 34 people got a chance to read. We had some pretty heavy hitters and an impressive amount of bangers from regulars and newcomers alike. One new poet made a very convincing argument on why snakes are their symbol of hope (rather than butterflies), and my personal favorite was when the word “Pokegeddon” was uttered in a poem. After a stunning smoking section, the crowd watched in awe as the incredible Miss Savage performed her feature. Her poems touched on topics from family and ancestry to religious and culture dynamics, and we thank her for such a great set!

Next week: Come join us for another incredible feature — the multi-hyphenate Dominique “Mo” Durden — as she performs poems from her new chapbook “BIRDSONG: a collection of poems.” To get a glimpse of what she’s been up to, check out @momothepoet on social media. See you soon!

– Amy ✈️

P.S. We want to wish our relatively new host, Aparna, a very happy birthday, which was over the past week. Happy Birthday to your lovely self!

Click here to see all our upcoming features!

All shows take place at the Cantab Lounge, 738 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, with one flight of stairs to access the basement room (click for directions and accessibility information). 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 21+ (ID/Proof of Vaccination required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap For Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

It was another jam-packed January night at the Cantab Lounge, as an eager-eared crowd took in another full open mic with lots of memorable moments! Poem topics included being a hotline operator, changing your name back to what it previously was, and the metaphors found in an elaborate terms-of-service agreement. Honorable mention goes to Oliver, who may have had the best poem title of the night, with “On a Second Date I Invent a Fake Childhood Injury to Unclear Ends.” As the open mic wound down, four poets took part in one of the wildest haiku slams we’ve had so far! Aparna barely edged out Siraj in the final round to take the win, but a great time was had by all.

The open slam was no slouch either, with the final coming down to veteran slammer Zeke Russell and open-mic favorite PK Jade. Zeke emerged victorious by performing a brand new poem about miracles, and both he and PK will be qualified for our future team selection final.

Next week, local poet powerhouse Mariama Savage will be giving us a full 30-minute feature! Hope to see you there!

– MFG🚪(filling in for Amy)

Upcoming features!

February 1st, 2023 – Mariama Savage
Boston-bred poet and Brave New Voices vet Mariama Savage will feature for us!

February 8th, 2023 – Dominique “Mo” Durden
Emerging poet/artist/activist and author of the recent chapbook “Birdsong”

Further down the road:

2/15Valentine’s Day feat. Dirty Haiku Slam (More details to come!)
2/22 – Chen Chen
3/1Open Poetry Slam
3/8Ricky Orng
3/15Jarvis Subia
3/22Catherine Weiss
3/29Gabriel Ramirez
4/05Karen Garrabrant
4/12Patrick Roche

All shows take place at the Cantab Lounge, 738 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, with one flight of stairs to access the basement room (click for directions and accessibility information). 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 21+ (ID/Proof of Vaccination required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap For Wednesday, January 18th, 2023

After a long, snowy weekend, Cantabbers reconvened once again for a great Wednesday full of poems! There were a considerable amount of new faces on the open mic, and highlights included Jarvis’ stirring ode to the history of their body, Danny Riordan’s immediate response poem to Jarvis, and March Penn’s excellently-titled “Do I Have Imaginary Friends Or Did I Just Imagine Having Them.” We also had to take a couple moments to recognize not just one, but TWO birthdays this week. Myles and Nayeli are both incredibly appreciated and loved by this community, no matter which side of the Aquarius/Capricorn cusp they identify with!

After the open mic was the anticipated 20 Questions slam, hosted by Myles, where each of the slammers wrote a 20-line poem describing something without explicitly stating it. Scores were based on whether our judges could guess what that something was. We had some beautiful poems accompanied by some crazy guesses, with one poem producing guesses of both “Penis” from one judge and “Hennessy” from another. At the end of the slam, the winning spot was awarded to both PK Kleiner and Meredith, for their poems about the wind and “stripper Santa” respectively.

This Week: If you thought we were done slamming for the month of January, you were wrong – we have an open slam this Wednesday! The top two slammers will also be eligible to compete in our team selection final, so we encourage you to bring your best poems! See you then!

– Amy ✈️

Upcoming features!

January 25th, 2023Open Poetry Slam
You need at least 3 poems to compete. $50 prize for the winner! There will also be an open haiku slam, with a $17 prize for the winner.

February 1st, 2023 – Mariama Savage
Boston-bred poet and Brave New Voices vet Mariama Savage will feature for us!

Further down the road:

2/8Dominique “Mo” Durden
2/15Valentine’s Day feat. Dirty Haiku Slam (More details to come!)
2/22 – Chen Chen
3/1Open Poetry Slam
3/8Ricky Orng
3/15Jarvis Subia
3/22Catherine Weiss
3/29Gabriel Ramirez

All shows take place at the Cantab Lounge, 738 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, with one flight of stairs to access the basement room (click for directions and accessibility information). 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 21+ (ID/Proof of Vaccination required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap For Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

This Wednesday was the most full night we’ve had in months, with a jam-packed open mic and waitlist filled to the brim! Our lovely hosts brought great energy (and great new haircuts!) to the sold out show, and it kept getting better from there. Open mic highlights included advice to never date a pilot, thoughts on Eli’s boss, questioning if Sam Bucci… is Eli’s boss, an intricate tale of movie theatre farts, what to do if there’s a goblin under the bed, and a completely uncut WWE wrestler introduction. It’s safe to say that we had a huge range of vibes, but the talent was at an all-time high!

After the open mic, there was a surprise open slam! (We hope to re-schedule planned feature Dr. Joshua Bennett for another date.) 8 competitors rose to the challenge, with a surging Logan Lopez overtaking first-time slammer Bonnie in the final round.

Next week: Is it an animal? A mineral? No, it’s an open slam with a gimmick! Join us next week for the 20 questions slam! See you there, and have a great week!

– Amy ✈️

Upcoming features!

January 18th, 202320 Questions Slam
Special theme slam! Poets will have 20 lines to describe the subject of their poem without revealing it, and their score will be impacted by whether or not the judges are able to guess the subject in question.

January 25th, 2023Open Poetry Slam
You need at least 3 poems to compete. $50 prize for the winner! There will also be an open haiku slam.

Further down the road:

2/1Mariama Savage
2/8Dominique “Mo” Durden
2/15Valentine’s Day feat. Dirty Haiku Slam (More details to come!)
2/22 – Chen Chen
3/1Open Poetry Slam
3/8Ricky Orng
3/15Jarvis Subia
3/22Catherine Weiss
3/29Gabriel Ramirez

All shows take place at the Cantab Lounge, 738 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, with one flight of stairs to access the basement room (click for directions and accessibility information). 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 21+ (ID/Proof of Vaccination required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap For Wednesday, January 4th, 2023

Happy New Year from everyone at the Cantab! We kicked off January with a completely full open mic and star-studded waitlist. Hosts Jimmy, Nayeli, and Dawn brought both raucous AND wistful vibes to the stage while introducing the first batch of poets of 2023. It was bars after bars after BARS at the mic, with newcomers debuting some especially impressive pieces ⁠— looking forward to seeing more of them throughout the year! The mic also included poems ranging in topic from ex slander to web browser history slander to other not-as-slanderous subjects like…the songs troll dolls sing when confronting a series of Capricorn goats? If you know, you know.

Our feature John Paul Davis then took the stage to deliver a mesmerizing set of both subtle and not-so-subtle poems about family, faith, technology, and not answering your phone. He also printed a chapbook exclusively for his feature ⁠— if you didn’t get one, be sure to reach out to see if he has any copies left!

Next Week: The renowned Dr. Joshua Bennett will be reading for us. Come on by to see this incredible poet!

– Amy ✈️

Upcoming features!

January 11th, 2023Dr. Joshua Bennett
Dr. Joshua Bennett is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. He is the author of three books of poetry and literary criticism: The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016)—which was a National Poetry Series selection and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award—Being Property Once Myself (Harvard University Press, 2020) and Owed (Penguin, 2020). Bennett holds a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, and an M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, where he was a Marshall Scholar. In 2021, he received the Whiting Award for Poetry and Nonfiction. His first work of narrative nonfiction, Spoken Word: A Cultural History, is forthcoming from Knopf.

January 18th, 202320 Questions Slam
Special theme slam! Poets will have around 20 lines to describe the subject of their poem, and then the judges will see if they can guess it correctly. More details to come!

January 25th, 2023Open Poetry Slam
You need at least 3 poems to compete. $50 prize for the winner!

Further down the road:

2/22Chen Chen
3/1Open Poetry Slam
3/8Ricky Orng
3/15Jarvis Subia
3/22Catherine Weiss
3/29Gabriel Ramirez

All shows take place at the Cantab Lounge, 738 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, with one flight of stairs to access the basement room (click for directions and accessibility information). 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 21+ (ID/Proof of Vaccination required) and the cover charge is $3.

Cantab Recap for Wednesday, December 28th, 2022

The Wednesday between Christmas and New Years proved to be an end-of-the-year extravaganza at the Cantab! After getting a copy of the newly-debuted “Cantabernacle,” a newsletter curated by many wonderful Cantab folk, both regulars and first-timers took their seats. The open mic this week included some wholesome reflections on the year, some poets paying homage to other poets that inspired them, and the continuation of a chain of self-proclaimed “sad poems.” The smoking section featured the usual display of talent (as well as some dazzling new years outfits) and a short-but-sweet haiku slam, where the winner C. S. Taylor was awarded the dignified $17. The night got even sweeter as it was announced that the lovely Sam Bucci brought homemade champagne-flavored cupcakes!

To top off the night, an open slam hosted by Myles Taylor ended the year in style. Eight slammers competed for a $50 prize, two of whom were first-time readers! After several consistently great performances, Kai Wallin came out on top, narrowly beating runner-up Charlie V. with an incredible and enthusiastic love poem.

Next week: Please join us in our excitement to see a wonderful feature by John Paul Davis, and the first open mic of 2023!

– Amy ✈️

Upcoming features!

January 4th, 2023John Paul Davis
John Paul Davis’s poems have appeared in numerous journals such as RATTLE, MUZZLE, The Bennington Review, Four Way Review, Southern Humanities Review, Maine Review and many others. His first book, Crown Prince Of Rabbits was published by Great Weather For Media in 2017. He twice represented Chicago at the National Poetry Slam as part of the Mental Graffiti team. He is a former curator of Page Meets Stage and the louderARTS Project. He also composes and performs music as part of Love In The Ruins and Day Of The Mountain. You can find out more about him at johnpauldavis.org or follow him on “the gram” at john.paul.davis.

January 11th, 2023Dr. Joshua Bennett
Dr. Joshua Bennett is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. He is the author of three books of poetry and literary criticism: The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016)—which was a National Poetry Series selection and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award—Being Property Once Myself (Harvard University Press, 2020) and Owed (Penguin, 2020). Bennett holds a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, and an M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, where he was a Marshall Scholar. In 2021, he received the Whiting Award for Poetry and Nonfiction. His first work of narrative nonfiction, Spoken Word: A Cultural History, is forthcoming from Knopf.

Further down the road:
January 25thOpen Poetry Slam
February 22Chen Chen

All shows take place at the Cantab Lounge, 738 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, with one flight of stairs to access the basement room (click for directions and accessibility information). 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 21+ (ID/Proof of Vaccination required) and the cover charge is $3.

The Boston Poetry Slam Is Officially Back!

Poets, the Boston Poetry Slam is officially no longer on hiatus!

The recent series of Wednesday readings at The Cantab Lounge, helmed by Dawn Gabriel and Myles Taylor, have been going strong since March, and with the beginning of a new year upon us, we felt it would be an apt time to re-announce our unified presence as the Boston Poetry Slam.

In the near future, we will be updating this website to reflect the current staff, events, and shows. In the meantime, you can look forward to reading weekly show recaps written by open mic regular (Airplane) Amy Argentar, as well as the online version of our new community zine.

We have been incredibly inspired by how this community has regenerated over the past nine months, and can’t wait for our community to grow even stronger in 2023.

Yours in poetry,

Dawn Gabriel
Myles Taylor
Michael F. Gill
Sam Cha
Briana Crockett
Jimmy
Kat Anderson

Wednesday Poetry at the Cantab Starts March 23, 2022!

Real quick, poets: the Boston Poetry Slam is still on hiatus, but we’re so glad to send you to a new reading sprouting up in time for spring at the Cantab.

Did you hear? Your friend and the slam’s, Dawn Gabriel (longtime host, 2005-2006 National slam team member) will be coordinating a Wednesday poetry night at the Cantab starting March 23, 2022. Doors will open at 7:00pm for an 8:00 open mic with Myles Taylor, Zeke Russell, and Sam Cha, followed by a featured poet. Cover is $3, show is 18+ with a government-issued photo ID and proof of vaccination required. Please wear your mask!

Looking for more info? We recommend you call the Cantab directly, or drop an email to Dawn and the team. Enjoy the show!

The Boston Poetry Slam Is Still on Break

Happy fall, poets! With the news that the Cantab Lounge will be reopening, we’ve been receiving lots of inquiries about the Boston Poetry Slam. Although we, too, are very excited to see our dive bar reviving, we currently do not have any shows scheduled. Maybe it’s good to write this in bold real quick to cut down on those email requests to get on the open mic that we aren’t having:

The Boston Poetry Slam remains on hiatus. We currently are not planning any in-person or online shows.

We are in touch with the Cantab and we are investigating if possibilities exist to run a safe, accessible, and staffable show. If you are interested in volunteering your time or know-how, you may email questions@bostonpoetryslam.com.

We hope you are listening well, writing often, and enjoying good news when you can get it.

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