Cantab Recap For Wednesday, February 7th, 2024

What a week, Cantabbers! A packed night, but we got through EVERYONE on the waitlist! We had Kelsey Kessler debut another fabulous poem that of course mentioned verity’s shades of red, last week’s slam winner Logan premiere a poem on home and pierogis, Reynard (Eddy Martinez) deliver a cathartic piece on applying to jobs, and first-timer Mookie bringing his poetry all the way from Los Angeles. Of course, I can’t NOT mention Cameron’s call to action on freeing the people from “Big Poetry” in his fantastic, ironic poem.

I also can’t NOT mention that we had an incredible workshop from our own Zeke Russell beforehand. Over 20 people showed up to experience a bit of Zeke’s mentorship, listen to some great example poems (including one from Patricia Smith), and write the beginnings of some great new poems. Thank you Zeke!!

The ✏️Line of the Wednesday ✏️ goes to first-timer Mookie, with: “I was born in the dust of a manger”

And then…. drumroll please… the LAST CHANCE SLAM!! We heard some of Daniel’s greatest hits, Sarah King performed a poem on if death was a woman, and Kai brought the house down with their impassioned pieces. It truly was, and I’m not just saying this, one of the best slams we’ve seen in the past year, with qualifying to try out for the team on the line. It was inspiring to be there and soak in everyone’s awesomeness.

Of course, in this little game we play. There are always winners. New regular BRYNNA won the $50, and Keaton was runner-up, qualifying both for the team selection slams. CONGRATS POETS! Congrats to all the slammers (below) and thank you to our staff and judges for making it possible.

  • Brynna Boyd
  • Keaton
  • Sarah King
  • Kai Wallin
  • Mary S
  • Nayeli
  • Danny Riordan
  • Decker
  • Daniel Letona
  • Shawn Dermer

Fundraiser alert – THIS WEEK!

This Valentine’s day, we will have books for you to fall in love with! On our February 14th show, we are hosting a “blind date with a book.” Attendees may pay on a sliding scale to buy a brand-new poetry book and take it home to keep! In preparation, we ask our lovely community for poetry book donations. We invite you to bring a poetry book you’d like to contribute (along with a sticky note describing the themes in the book) to any of our upcoming Wednesday night shows. Funds will go towards the continued development of the Boston Poetry Slam.

Tonight! It is VALENTINE’S DAY EVERYONE! VALENTINE’S DAY ON A WEDNESDAY! Don’t panic, dress up in cowboy costumes! That’s right, we have the first ever ODEO this Wednesday: the Ode Rodeo, if you will. Bring your odes, odes to a person, odes to your breakfast, odes to cowboys, odes to ODES, it doesn’t matter, anything to get into the spirit of love and dev-ode-tion. It will be a head- to-head style slam (think like an old western duel) and we encourage you to dress up in your best cowboy gear! 

We also will have an accompanying dirty haiku slam hosted by Michael F. Gill, so prepare accordingly!

See you there,

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, January 31th, 2024

Happy Cantab Wednesday! This week was jam-packed with talent, with performances on the open mic including regular Cameron’s completely memorized Cassandra de Alba cover, the return of Skylar and Isaiah after not hearing from them in awhile, and a powerful and dare I say biblically impressive poem by Jennifer Martinez.

The ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ goes to our very own social media-er and poet extraordinaire, Kat Anderson: “I’ve always fit in between breaths. Only so I never have to hide.”

And then: judges were gathered, poets were prepped, and MFG had timer and calculator at the ready, because we headed straight into a SLAM! Eight slammers competed in a battle for $50 and to qualify for the team selection slams coming up. We saw a touching and polished performance from Keaton, pure, unbridled passion and internal rhyming from Jack Chasse, and even an interactive piece from new regular Sarah King. All slammers did incredible, but Logan Lopez (2023 slam team member) won the $50 with a trifecta of poems showcasing the full breadth of their talent! Youssef came in second place with his striking work, making both him and Logan qualified to try out for the team.

Fundraiser alert! 

This Valentine’s day, we will have books for you to fall in love with! On our February 14th show, we are hosting a “blind date with a book.” Attendees may pay on a sliding scale to buy a brand-new poetry book and take it home to keep! In preparation, we ask our lovely community for poetry book donations. We invite you to bring a poetry book you’d like to contribute (along with a sticky note describing the themes in the book) to any of our upcoming Wednesday night shows. Funds will go towards the continued development of the Boston Poetry Slam.

This week! We have…. ANOTHER SLAM! Not just any slam though, this is the LAST CHANCE SLAM, as it represents the last chance to qualify to try out for our 2024 team. The slam will consist of three rounds, and all poets must have three original poems under three minutes to participate. Get ready to slam, judge, or cheer on the competitors!!

Not only is there a slam, but we are continuing our monthly workshop series with a workshop from our very own Zeke Russell! The workshop starts at 6:30, and it will be a generative workshop that will use specific events and locations in our writing to connect to a larger world. This workshop will focus on the tiny real things we experience in our daily lives, and how we can use those stories and images as threads to spin larger webs.

Readings will include: Mary Oliver, Nikki Giovani, Seamus Heany, Patricia Smith, Sharon Olds, Stephen King, and Jacob Rakovan.

NOTE: Workshop attendees will have first access to the open mic list and slam sign up. As this is the last chance to qualify for the team selection, we will be collecting the names of people who want to slam who are at the workshop as well as those who are in line upstairs. We will try to accommodate as many poets as possible (i.e. more than 8).

See you then!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, January 24th, 2024

Another fab Wednesday for the Cantab crew! We had an open mic, a haiku slam, and an incredible feature. During the mic, Jack Chasse opened with tales of his year to come, Eli followed with tales of his sister-in-law’s baseball bat, and then Hunter with a thinkpiece (thinkpoem?) on the hit series Riverdale. We had a full house for the night, and an even fuller waitlist, including previous feature Zee Stewart from Slam Free & Die!

The ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ comes from Kaitie D. with “Do I really know desire when I’m alone?”

We then had the first haiku slam of the year hosted by the great Michael F. Gill. We had newer faces, such as Iman, being the house down with a juggling poem, and familiar faces like Kris Cho and defending haiku champion Aparna. Shout out to former finalist Lou B for doing a beautifully sung haiku in Round 1! In the end, regular (and 2023 slam team member) Kai Wallin won the $17 and bragging rights.

Our feature was Mica Rich, who read a curated (and completely memorized!) set of poems guaranteed to tug on your heartstrings (or even maybe rip them out). Mica drew from their personal experience for several of their poems, and their raw vulnerability was comforting, emotional, and inspiring. A poet with a real gift for talking to you directly, they stepped back from the mic to deliver a truly powerful poem that my words won’t do justice. I encourage you to watch the saved livestream on our Instagram @bostonpoetryslam. 

Fundraiser alert! 

This Valentine’s day, we will have books for you to fall in love with! On our February 14th show, we are hosting a “blind date with a book.” Attendees may pay on a sliding scale to buy a brand-new poetry book and take it home to keep! In preparation, we ask our lovely community for poetry book donations. We invite you to bring a poetry book you’d like to contribute (along with a sticky note describing the themes in the book) to any of our upcoming Wednesday night shows. Funds will go towards the continued development of the Boston Poetry Slam.

This week: join us at the Cantab Lounge for our regular Open Mic AND Open Slam! Slam rules: 3 rounds! You must have 3 ORIGINAL poems under 3 minutes. This is your SECOND TO LAST CHANCE to qualify for the 2024 team selection slam, so bring out your best work and come down to Central Square!

See you then!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

Hi Cantabbers!

We had such a supportive and spirited show last week, not to mention sold-out! Open mic hits include Edie going through and acting out an entire plethora of emotions in their poem, Danny Riordan’s sestina debut that had us all … rolling, and a poem written to the year 2024 from first timer Nikki. Bubbles (who was definitely a candidate for most outfit compliments on stage) also had a crowd favorite, which I’ll just say was about wanting life’s simple pleasures :) (If you know, you know ❤️.)

The ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ is from Shivank, with “I dream I am a moon covered in light switches begging someone to turn them on.”

We also had a SPEED SLAM!! 12 contestants competed in a 3-round slam of 1, 2, and 3 minute poems. We had plenty of poems that divided the judges, including an impressive set of memorized poems (“off the dome!”) by Deirdre, Mary, and Brynna. In the end, it was a certified “Oops! All Bangers” slam, with one poet victorious: Kelsey Kessler! Shoutout to Kelsey, who won the $50 and is qualified to try out for the slam team, along with our runner up Meredith! Thank you to our judges, and to all the slammers:

  • Kelsey Kessler
  • Meredith Lakis
  • Brynna
  • Mary
  • Deirdre McCarthy
  • Youssef
  • Jack Chasse
  • Kai Wallin
  • TJ Jones 
  • Guy
  • Keaton
  • Brenna Snyderman

Fundraiser alert! 

This Valentine’s day, we will have books for you to fall in love with! On our February 14th show, we are hosting a “blind date with a book.” Attendees may pay on a sliding scale to buy a brand-new poetry book and take it home to keep! In preparation, we ask our lovely community for poetry book donations. We invite you to bring a poetry book you’d like to contribute (along with a sticky note describing the themes in the book) to any of our upcoming Wednesday night shows. Funds will go towards the continued development of the Boston Poetry Slam.

Hailing from New Hampshire, this week’s feature is Mica Rich! Mica L. Rich (they/them) is a New England poet and writer whose poetry explores themes of trauma and its effect on healing and identity. It values the strength and bravery found in vulnerability. Their work aims to provide an outlet for people struggling to find their own voices in a world that would often rather keep them quiet. Mica’s poetry has appeared in literary journals and collections such as The Avocet, Inkwell, and Wingless Dreamer’s Dark Poetry Collection. Their own debut collection, This Is How Wildflowers Grow, was released in October of 2022 and can be found through Barnes & Noble. Mica is a staff member and slam team member with Slam Free or Die. Mica also works as a freelance editor and spends their free time exploring every nature reserve and hiking trail they can reach. Find Mica online at www.micalediting.net

COMMUNITY NOTE: The current COVID surge is one of the highest throughout the pandemic and we want to keep our community accessible and safe. We STRONGLY ENCOURAGE the community to bring a mask to the show for the next few weeks and to keep it on when not drinking or performing.

See you soon!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, January 10th, 2024

Another Wednesday, another SOLD OUT show, Cantabbers! We had one heck of an audience and open mic list last week! We had first-timer Brynna early in the open mic set the bar with an incredible poem on never learning to tell time (she did keep it right under three minutes, though 😁). We had regular Logan Lopez with a poem on moving and queer love, Kai with new work about seeing Madonna with their mom, and Skylar with a conceptual piece on voicemail options for the neurodivergent. What a night!

This week’s ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ goes to first timer Shivank, with “You don’t always have to burn your way out” 

This week’s shenanigans has to be the fact that birthday boy Michael F. Gill not only hosted the Express Lane, but was in TWO different group pieces: one was bilingual, and one imagined what a poem would be like if it … was the MBTA! (Apologies for any non-locals in the audience, most of that probably went over your heads).

This week’s feature was Devin Kelly, who knocked our socks off with his set. As mentioned in one of his opening pieces, Devin “believes in a poetry of excess,” and we got poetry with an excess of passion, beauty, and romance. A truly touching feature, listening to Devin’s work is a reminder to all of us to put our hearts into our poems. Thank you Devin!

This Wednesday, we have a SPEED SLAM!!! Come slam for a chance to win $50 and qualify to try out for the 2024 Boston Poetry Slam team! The first round will be one-minute poems, the second round will be two-minute poems, and the last round will be three-minute poems. Sign-ups are first-come, first-served.

COMMUNITY NOTE: The current COVID surge is one of the highest throughout the pandemic and we want to keep our community accessible and safe. We STRONGLY ENCOURAGE the community to bring a mask to the show for the next few weeks and to keep it on when not drinking or performing.

See you then!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024

Happy New Year, Cantabbers!

Back from the holidays, poets lined up for not just an open mic, but a lovely workshop from regular reader Kaitie D! Poets learned about the different impacts repetition can have in a piece, and experimented with different uses of repetition. Some workshop attendees even performed their brand-new pieces on the mic later that night.

The open mic had a considerably number of new faces, such as Mary with a STUNNING debut, and Cora serving bars (and a great dress). We also had your standard straight-from-the-bar poem from Arielle Gray, and a beautiful, world-jumping piece from Youssef.

The ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ this week is (paraphrased): “Chicken Littles, fighting over pieces of the sky” by Nick Roberts.

Our feature was the incredible syan jay, who performed mesmerizing pieces on their childhood, self-image, family, and more with a tone that carried as much suspense as it did comfort. They smartly wove in imagery of nature into their poetry to emphasize place and the poem’s emotion. It was a very grounding start to 2024 – thank you syan!!!

Next week, your feature is Devin Gael Kelly! Devin is the author of In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (Civil Coping Mechanisms), and his work has appeared in Longreads, The Guardian, The Year’s Best Sportswriting, and more. He writes the weekly newsletter Ordinary Plots, and he works as a high school teacher in New York City.

COMMUNITY NOTE: The current COVID surge is one of the highest throughout the pandemic and we want to keep our community accessible and safe. We STRONGLY ENCOURAGE the community to bring a mask to the show for the next few weeks and to keep it on when not drinking or performing.

See you then!

– Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, December 27th, 2023

Happy 2024 Cantab poets! We celebrated the last Wednesday of 2023 with a show that was as equally cozy as it was surprisingly off-kilter. The open mic welcomed back Charlie V, Cam, and Dank The Poet after long absences, buzzed with a pair of moving personal pieces from Daniel Letona and Logan Lopez, and even swerved into some great NSFW material (no, really) from Kat Anderson and newcomer Sara S. Special shout out to Sara H for reading the best “country western lesbian romance” poem we’ve heard all year!

Our big themed feature of the evening was our second annual POETRY THEATRE night. Last year, we had two now-infamous long-form plays (Raechel Segal’s Diva In Development and Michael F. Gill’s I’m Using The Chicken To Measure It), but this year we had an ensemble cast of 8 poets perform 15 mini-plays back-to-back, with the audience choosing the order in which they were performed!

Did you miss it, or want to re-live it? Settle in, here’s a brief description of each play!

“One Last Elegy For Some People In My Phone” – Performers talk about someone in their phone contacts one last time before deleting their number in front of the audience.

“Mona Lisa Pictionary” – Jennifer Martinez starts drawing the Mona Lisa on stage, but everyone on her team somehow guesses the wrong thing, despite each guess being somewhat plausible.

“Emily Dickinson Puppet Show” – Emily’s poem I’m Nobody – Who Are You performed as a conversation between two puppets!

“The Great Re-Enactment” – Michael and TJ have a discussion about the Barbie movie that is (poorly) live-transcribed by s.m. DECKER. DECKER then texts their warped transcription to Michael and T.J., who then re-enact the discussion, with each person playing the part of the other person.

“I AM INTROVERT” – Two puppets (March Penn and s.m. DECKER) loudly d!scuss how introverted they are, creating an introvert storm.

“Genre Laughter” – Michael commands the cast to perform different types of laughter, including a laugh for “I’m on a date, this person is attractive, but I don’t like their jokes at all” and “I don’t know why this is funny, but I’m going to laugh because everyone else is laughing”

“57 Seconds” – A play where everyone (including the audience) tries to guess when 57 seconds have elapsed, without going over. The winner (Logan Lopez) got $20!

“The Sound of Almond Milk Being Poured vs The Sound of Regular Milk Being Poured vs The Sound of Coconut Milk Being Poured” – Michael pours milks in a glass, so a blindfolded March knows what they sound like. He then quizzes March on which milk the final pour could be. At the same time, a person from the milk lobby (s.m. Decker) is furious and declares all non-dairy milks should not legally be able to be called milk.

“Space Is the Place” – March Penn leads everyone in an exploration of poetry as space, and how poets find the space in their lives to write, while the rest of the cast whisper the title as they slowly walk around the room.

“The Picnic” – A longer play by T.J. Jones that involves, among other things, a set of gods and mortals having a picnic, and how to find the right types of dates and hummus while you are living out your one and only life.

“Unwritten” – A micro meta play about a play that’s unwritten, except for one repeated line (“Staring / at the blank page before you“) from Natasha Bedingfield’s song Unwritten.

“Walking City Mystic” – An extended excerpt from a play by Eddy Martinez, involving his Renard character. In this scene, Renard and his roommate Grimbart are trying to write a craigslist post for an empty room in their apartment, despite 1) the room constantly changing its size, 2) Renard’s dreams keep on dictating the content of the post, and 3) Grimbart accidentally breaks the fourth wall.

“Monotony” – Michael rhythmically chants about how the opposite of monotony is interruption, while T.J. sings, and the rest of the cast randomly shouts “INTERRUPTION!” from different places in the room.

“Guided Meditation For Aspiring Capitalists” – Michael leads everyone in a group meditation on how to choose the right investment for your venture capital, and how to create a product that is so irresistible that a customer would willingly give up all their personal data to use it.

“Protesting The Date Of This Cantab Feature” – T.J. is very upset that this feature is happening on one of the shortest nights of the year, and aims to correct this by extending the show by the amount of daylight that was taken away from him.

Major kudos to all the performers for giving us such a fun night to close the year on! And a round of applause to Sara H for lovingly heckling us in-between plays! For posterity, the performers were: March Penn, Shawn Dermer, s.m. DECKER, T.J. Jones, Jack Chasse, Eddy Martinez, Jennifer Martinez, and Michael F. Gill.

Quick website note: if you weren’t able to get a physical copy of the latest issue of our zine (The Cantabernacle) it is now available in digital format! Many thanks to Kat Gunther for doing the graphic design and layout. Please send over your submissions for the next issue!

Our first show of 2024 is just around the corner, and we’ve not only got a feature from the awesome syan jay, but also a pre-show writing workshop with open mic regular Kaitie Dilán! Entry to the 6:30 PM workshop will be $10-$15 sliding scale, while the regular 8:00 PM show will be our normal cover of $4. Please prepare accordingly!

In Kaitie’s workshop, we will discuss, write, and perform through the lens of repetition. We will read work and watch performances by Gertrude Stein, Solmaz Sharif, and Danez Smith. We will generate work with directive prompts. Expect to recite generative work in small groups. There will be an opportunity to present work at the end if time permits.

Our feature syan jay is the author of Bury Me in Thunder (Sundress Publications, 2020). They’re an agender writer of White Mountain Apache descent. They were the winner of the 2018 Pacific Spirit Poetry Prize and Frontier Poetry’s 2019 Frontier New Voices Fellow. Their work has been published in POETRY, The Rumpus, Black Warrior Review, Room Magazine and more. You can find more of their work at www.syanjay.com.

This might be our longest recap yet, so if you made it to the end, be sure to let us know! See you soon! <3

– MFG 🚪

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, December 20th, 2023

What a Wednesday! Cantabbers were feeling the holiday spirit at the open mic, sharing amazing work before several of us took some time to visit family. We had regulars like Jack Chassé donning his signature black gloves and giving us an explosive performance, there was a great poem about “dunking on the moon” by Shawn, and raw work from first-timer Tally, who signed up on our waitlist after being inspired by hearing the poets on the mic! 

The ✏️ Line of the Wednesday ✏️ is from our very own social media staff member and amazing poet, Kat Anderson: “A high school budget for us was a dollar for a slice and a dollar for a bogue and you / Took our tithings with love / And without question”

Psst: Kat’s birthday is this weekend, so I wanted to highlight all the amazing work she does for us as social media connoisseur, occasional host, hype woman, etc. Happy Birthday Kat!!!

A little “Cantab Culture” of the week was the light theme of quitting jobs, including Logan’s found poem that was a straight reading of their grandpa’s resignation email from his job. Alexa play “Break My Soul” by Beyoncé.

This coming Wednesday, it’s time to get wild and weird with the second annual poetry theater night! Come see a series of short (1-3 minute) poem plays, group pieces, and conceptual shenanigans all performed back-to-back! Featuring work by March Penn, Michael F. Gill, Eddy Martinez, T.J. Jones, S.M. Decker, and others! It’s sure to be a great way to close out 2023.

See you then!

-Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, December 13th, 2023

Happy wonderful Wednesday, Cantabbers!!

We had yet another packed basement, full of regulars, new faces, and several “it’s been a minute” readers returning to the stage! We kicked off the open mic with newcomer TJ Reynolds and a rare early-on-the-mic appearance from Eddy Martinez. This was followed by regulars, such as the hilarious work from Cameron and the adrenaline rush from Kaitie D. Overall, there was an overarching theme of death … and/or delusion from the open mic, crating a pretty ethereal atmosphere.

This week also featured the debut of the OPEN MIC EXPRESS LANE where poets with one-minute or shorter poems can perform them at the end of the mic rather than having the more ambiguous fate of the waitlist. People who didn’t get called off the waitlist also got to read in this section, and it went swimmingly!

The ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ is from Cameron, with “I’ve been fired from the scarecrow guild for choreographing dances”.

Our feature was the lovely Jess Rizkallah, whose beautiful set had us all completely captivated. Jess has one of those writing voices that you could listen to quite literally forever; the prose in her work goes on and on in a very comforting way while still hitting you right in the heart at times. The majority of the audience left with a copy of her chapbook in hand.

Next week! We have Philip Hasouris as our feature! Phillip Hasouris is the author of three poetry collections, has been a featured poet at many local and national venues, and represented Brockton at the National Poetry Slam in Austin Texas. He was an alternate for the Boston Poetry Slam team in 1998. In 2010 he received the Mike Amado Spoken Word Warrior Award. He has been the poetry coordinator for the Brockton Library Poetry Series 2004 – 2009 and 2017-present. Philip has created many events showcasing Brockton’s cultural and diverse community. Philip is committed to the restorative power of the arts; he is a facilitator of expressive healing workshops throughout the state for groups coping with medical crisis and bereavement. Philip has expanded the workshops to include young people, recognizing bullying and peer pressure and its effects on the stresses of everyday life, creating a non-judgment safe environment.

See you then!

-Amy ✈️

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Cantab Recap For Wednesday, December 6th, 2023

Welcome back to another Cantab Recap! Lines wound around the bar upstairs for both the usual open mic and the first installment of our monthly workshop series! We began with a workshop by Myles Taylor (who was also our feature,) where we analyzed poems that had different takes on names and what they can and cannot be, ending with attendees writing their own name-based poems! 

The open mic and waitlist were PACKED with regulars excited to see our feature. In fact, we only had ONE first timer on the mic, so HUGE shoutout to everyone who came out to read or just listen. On the open, we had Nilya of haiku slam fame do an incredible poem along with, of course, some haiku. We also had an amazing and passionate opening poem from regular Chris, and another hilarious poem from Cameron. It was great to hear staff member Bri again after a brief hiatus, as they read a beautiful piece about grief. 

This week’s ✏️Line of the Wednesday✏️ is from Daniel Letona: “It doesn’t matter where I land / It just matters that I fell”

Our feature was THE Myles Taylor, our wonderful, fantastic curator. They celebrated the release of their book Masculinity Parable and the start of their poetry tour on their very own home turf, and it was as warm and as amazing as you can imagine. We got a chance to hear not only poems from the book, but poems from the first few years of Myles’ journey at the Cantab, which began in 2016. We rallied at their poems on service workers and debated the existence of back rooms. We cried as we listened to Boy With Wings regardless if it was your 1st or 101st time hearing it. At the end of the night everyone was suddenly wearing a black motorcycle jacket and blooming with applause. Half of that sentence is true. It was an incredible night, ending with a line of poets stretching across the room, waiting to buy copies of the book. Thank you Myles for the feature and good luck on your tour!!

NEXT WEEK! Our feature is long-time favorite Jess Rizkallah! Jess Rizkallah is a Lebanese writer and illustrator and a 2022 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellow. Her book THE MAGIC MY BODY BECOMES was a finalist for The Believer Poetry Award, and won the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize as awarded by the Radius of Arab-American Writers and University of Arkansas Press.

See you then!

-Amy ✈️

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