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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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, May 1st, 2024

Happy May, Cantab!

We had a lovely workshop, open mic and feature last week, with Sam Bucci serving up an incredible poem from said workshop, Otto Vock returning after their team came in second at the Midwest Mashup (congrats Otto, Meaghan, McKendy, and Alex), and Daniel Letona with a powerful piece on heritage. We also had a particularly notable smoking section, with Kat again bringing bars up from the bar, Briana with some super-fresh shit on the “would you rather be left alone in a forest with a man or a bear” debate, and Aparna with a wonderful 2-year Cantabverssary tribute. 

Before all that though, March Penn hosted a very informative workshop, teaching us about hypotaxis and parataxis, analyzing a few exemplary works, and creating a really generative space for writing. Several workshop attendees performed their poems on the mic later that night! Stay tuned for our next monthly workshop, which happens on the first Wednesday of every month.

This week’s ✏️ Line of the Wednesday ✏️ is from Finn, with “I am mute on nameless streets. My head in a spiral of gemmed fiddlehead fern.” 

We then had an INCREDIBLE feature by Durane West, who maybe broke the record for number of cool forms (specifically, index poems) read on the mic within thirty minutes. We even got a contrapuntal. His work was rich with storytelling, descriptors of the black experience, and coincidentally, powerful parataxis. Thank you Durane!!

This week! We have A BOOK RELEASE from our beloved March Penn!!! March Penn has been a regular on the open mic at Cantab since 2010 and writes about neurodiversity, gender fluidity, queer relationships, chronic illness and creative community building. During the pandemic, they started the DIY MFA / Self-Educating Poets Network to make literary education free and accessible using online resources. March’s first full-length book, Green Antelope Fire, is out with Game Over Books.

See you then!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, April 24th, 2024

What’s up Cantabbers!? We had a wicked, wacky Wednesday for you all last week! Cameron not only performed a poem for us, but we were serenaded in song as well! We had great debuts from Phoebe and Apollo, a Cantabverssary poem from Shawn, and a poem from Jack Chassay that left us floored and left him… on the floor!

The ✏️Line of the Wednesday ✏️ is from Phoebe, with “I left God a voicemail while you stayed on the line until I fell asleep.”

We had the express lane (featuring a great poem dedicated to flatulence by the Bus Stop Prophet) and the smoking section (featuring Kat, coming up from the bar WITH bars), and then….

The Fresh Ink Slam! All new shit, all night! We had ten slammers take the stage, including first timers Frank and Kelly Erin bringing the HEAT! We had an incredible poem by the great Sam Bucci after a short hiatus, some great storytelling from Edie, and the usual evocative heavy-hitters from Youssef. There was also not one, not two, but THREE ties, and the slam went all the way into Thursday morning (like 12:01am on Thursday morning, but still). Thank you to our very patient judges, who in total judged TWENTY poems (that’s like listening to poems non-stop for almost an entire hour). 

After a tight final round with Edie, Kaitie D., Kelly Erin, and March, the winner was announced. March Penn took home the 50 bucks and the title of Freshest Ink in All the Land! Thank you to all the slammers and everyone who stayed to watch this great event.

Speaking of March Penn, they are hosting the WORKSHOP before today’s show! The workshop is called “Your Notebook Is Your Museum.” 

This workshop is inspired by former Cantab poet Carrie Rudzinski who kept notebooks full of interesting turns of phrases, and then later strung them together to craft amazing poems. Carrie is excellent at a writing technique known as parataxis, when a writer uses short phrases without connecting them with conjunctions or other coordinating words. Writers are encouraged to bring old notebooks, diaries, or drafts, but starting a fresh notebook or notes app on a cellphone is fine too. All funds raised on this workshop will be donated to Game Over Books to support this small, struggling press after loss of their distribution.

The workshop will start at 6:30 and have a capacity of 18 participants, so get there early! Note: Workshop attendees get first access to the open mic list. The workshop cost is $10-20 (sliding scale).

Also, your feature tonight is Durane West! Durane West is a spoken word artist and educator, and he was born and raised in Boston. He channels intense imagery, and intuitive emotional exploration to showcase transparency in his writing. Through versatile form usage and raw introspective diction, West offers his readers a sneak peek into his closeted mind. West has several years of experience working in the non-profit sector for organizations that aim to improve literacy skills for inner city youth throughout Boston. In 2022, West was nominated by the Boston Music Awards for Spoken Word Artist of the Year. The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture published his poem “617” which he performed in a short film. West leads workshops for a multidisciplinary arts education program at the Institute of Contemporary Art. 

See you soon!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

Happy Wednesday everyone! Last week was one of the most sold-out shows we have had in a long time, with the basement reaching capacity before 7:45, and an additional 15-to-20 people waiting upstairs! Also, we had Kat, our wonderful social media manger, behind the bar for the first time! A wonderful bartending debut.

The open mic was fabulous, with surprise special guest Tongo Eisen-Martin, the poet laureate of San Francisco, reading a powerful piece early in the night (come see his feature on July 3rd!). Other highlights include Ribs’ trans stand-up comedy/poetry rousing the crowd into a frenzy, Isaiah reading a special birthday poem (happy birthday!), Arielle with another from-the-bar instant classic, and slam team member Brynna making a wonderful hosting debut! 

This week’s ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ is from Isaiah, with “grief is how any plant knows that sunlight exists when all it can see is the moon “

We then had a fabulous MFG-hosted haiku slam. After some great mashups, the slam ended with a virtual tie between Brynna and TJ Jones. Michael even asked the audience to vote twice, and although it remained incredibly close, TJ had the slightest edge and won the $17!

We then had our feature, Lynne Schmidt. Lynne brought her service dog, Zoe, who very politely sat on stage and watched the whole open mic! Lynne’s work holds your hand as she guides you through some incredibly hard topics, detailing the visceral emotions that one can hold through tough times and how those emotions can change over time or linger. Notably, Lynne also had a very lovely and well-designed merch table. Thank you Lynne. 

This week, it’s SLAM TIME! After our open mic, we will have the Fresh Ink Slam. The theme is fresh ink, meaning never-before-heard poems (at least, never heard by us). Can I get a “NEW SHIT!”?  (Editor: You can.) Rules: 3 rounds, and you must have 3 ORIGINAL poems under 3 minutes.

See you Wednesday!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, April 10th, 2024

What a Wednesday Cantab! It’s not every week where a birthday and a feature are celebrated at the same time, but that was the case with our feature tonight, Greg Smith! The open mic was excellent, highlights included Arielle Gray’s “I don’t know how to end conversations” piece, and powerful poems from Meaghan Ford and Sara H about domestic violence that really shook the room. Special shout out to the express lane this week, where the 1-minute poems from Ember, Kat Gunther, Finn, Cho, and Mckendy were sneakily one of the best back-to-back poem sequences of the night.

The ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ is from Youssef, with: “What is your religion? / What is the name of your mother and the work of your father?”

Our feature and birthday-celebrator Greg Smith gave us an energetic, exuberant, echoing feature, diving into stories of their past and even their future. Greg makes you feel things I can guarantee you’ve never felt before, and the image of a Phoenix rising from a bathroom sink is forever burned in my mind. 

This week, we have a feature from Lynne Schmidt! Lynne Schmidt is the queer, neurodivergent grandchild of a Holocaust survivor. Their latest chapbook, The Unaccounted for Circles of Hell, will be published with Stanchion in January 2024, and Dying Dog Poems will be published later in 2024. Their chapbook SexyTime was a winner of the 2021 The Poetry Question Chapbook Contest, and Dead Dog Poems was the 2020 New Women’s Voices Contest winner. In 2012 they started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers her pack of dogs and one cat to humans.

See you then!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024

Hi Cantab! Now that Team Selection is over, the hype, sold out nights, and crazy energy has finally come to an en- oh… wait… I’m being told by my producers that last Wednesday was in fact just as hype, sold out, and crazy energy as last month!

One of the most notable aspects of the night was when Cameron (aka “Professor Philip Plumberly”) recited a satiric poem in his excellent mostly-British character, and while I cannot describe the raucous experience of the poem, I can say the line “her excellent boobies” was said. Newcomer Donovan also blew us away with his poem about his “body electric.” Perhaps the highlight of the night was new regular Lys McGuire performing a completely improvised poem based on the word “apples” shouted from the back of the room. It was so good I think half the audience didn’t realize it was improv until halfway through the poem!

The ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ goes to Siraj, with “I am just a human who eats too much joy”

Before the open mic, we had an evocative workshop led by our own staff member and incredible host, Nayeli. The workshop was incredibly generative and featured analysis of two bodies of work (from sources as diverse as Gertrude Stein and Earl Sweatshirt), and a whole fruit tableau, spotlit on the stage.

After the open mic, the beloved veteran Cantabber Brian S. Ellis provided us with a jaw-droppingly fantastic feature. We all got the privilege of existing within the world Brian’s words create. There were tales of the perils of copywriting, Occam’s razor, and honestly what it means to live. There was not one, but two standing ovations, a truly one-of-a-kind feature. Thank you Brian!! You can also re-watch Brian’s feature on our instagram here.

Psst! This month is National Poetry Writing Month, so be sure to interact with the “Take a Prompt, Leave a Prompt” cup we have set up at the front table, and get writing!

This week, it’s not just a feature, it’s a BOOK RELEASE SHOW! Gregory Smith (They/Them) is drinking wine right now. They can solve a 7×7 Rubik’s cube in only (1) penalty overtime work shift. You can find them sharing kandi bracelets with Metalheads or backswinging at a warehouse rave. They have been serving on staff at New Hampshire’s longest-running poetry slam and open mic series, Slam Free Or Die in Manchester, New Hampshire, since 2018. They also were chosen as Slam Free Or Die’s Indie Slam Champion and IWPS representative (in abstentia) in 2018. Their poetry has appeared in Bullshit Lit, The People’s Book Volume 2, Verum Literary Journal, Rockview Reader, Rectangles, and on NHPR.com. Their debut full-length collection, Profligate Angel, is forthcoming from Game Over Books. They’re an Aries and therefore are here to spit fire and truth, no matter the cost.

See you then!

– Amy ✈️

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