Are You A Boston Poet Who Doesn’t Know It?

September 30, 2011 by

Eating & Restaurants, Free Things to Do

An original Boston poet - Robert Frost - photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Shady Apple. Concrete Handbag.

Yes, some of it may not make literal sense (at least not to the ‘artless masses’), but whether you’re after an alternative spot for a cocktail, a venture into the voices of sexually-curious and postmodern members of the underground, or just a chance to try your hand at something as nerve-wracking as it is liberating, Poetry Slams are a much overlooked and under-appreciated option for a night out on the town in Boston.

A good place to start is the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge (8pm/Wednesdays), which welcomes anyone to enter open slams – which, incidentally, can qualify you for a prestigious series if you win. Another option is the Blacksmith House Poetry Series on Brattle Street (8pm/Mondays), which already has a great line up scheduled for the rest of the year, or the Lizard Lounge Poetry Jam (7:30pm/Sundays). No one will stop you from hitting all three; not only will you be able to make some interesting new friends, but you’ll then have enough thoughts and words swimming around your head to keep you pondering away during your next boring plane flight.

Even if you don’t want to perform (or you’re just “working up to it”), being in the audience of a Poetry Slam can be just as fun. Standard rules indicate that a handful of judges are to be selected, usually at random, at the beginning of the Slam – from the audience! And you don’t have to be Walt Whitman or Henry Vaughan to know what makes a good poem or, more importantly, a good performance; it’s a gut instinct thing.

Poems are usually capped at three minutes. No costumes, music, or heavy gimmicks. Slam poetry is all about the power of words and how a certain pattern, volume, or speed of a phrase can connect with the listener. Be warned – poetry slams are super addictive and just might end up becoming your new hobby!

Natalie Grant

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