Sunday Evening Photo Series

It’s oh so close!

Here’s a look at what the Preliminary Competition Venues look like from the outside so you’ll have an idea what to look for…

Cambridge CollegeCambridge College

Cantab (upstairs)Cantab (upstairs)

Davis Square TheatreDavis Square Theatre

Johnny D’sJohnny D’s

Lizard LoungeLizard Lounge

Lesley University’s Marran TheaterLesley University’s Marran Theater


If you want to hear more about these spots and some what we’re thinking about the Preliminary Bouts over at Slam Center.

We’re going to have a whole host of photographers taking photos so say hello to whomever is in your venue. We’re all about showing off your art. The whole photography team hope to see you guys very soon.

– Rich Beaubien

Poets and the Page

Patrick OhslundPatrick Ohslund

Tim Toaster HendersonTim Toaster Henderson

colleen Hamilton-LeckyColleen Hamilton-Lecky

Franny ChoiFranny Choi

Sam SaxSam Sax

– Until next week

Famously Cantab (aka Blue Redux)

Anis MojganiAnis Mojgani

Sara BrickmanSara Brickman

Adam GottliebAdam Gottlieb

Brian S. EllisBrian S. Ellis

Simone BeaubienSimone Beaubien

Jack McMcarthyJack McCarthy

– Until next week

Images from the left coast

The SaintThe Saint

Another guest episode, this time from the the San Francisco Bay area. Katelyn Lucas is member of the 2013 Bay Area Unified slam team, co-founder of The Voice Of A Generation, and as you can see from above she’s pretty handy with a camera.

MC No NameMC No Name

ToasterTim Toaster Henderson

Stephanie Lane SuttonStephanie Lane Sutton

Rob ZenzRob Zenz

Jasmine Wilkerson SufiJasmine Wilkerson Sufi

– Until next week

What’s in a Space?

Seats at the Cambridge Y.

Seats at the Cambridge Y.

Poetry Slam is an equipment-light art form. Stripped down to a poet and the spoken word, it takes very little to present it. It takes a room, most of the time a microphone and some speakers. The stage can be nothing more than an open space carved out by pulling the chairs back, or it can be a raised and well-lit platform on which the poet stands alone to perform. The audience can be seated in neat rows in chairs or at tables; they might be on the floor or standing around the back of a sold-out room.

Harlym 1two5 leads the NUPIC, outside at MIT.

Harlym 1two5 leads the NUPIC, outside at MIT.

Heck, at NPS, in the middle of the night after the regular bouts are done, there is still poetry even without the mic. Or the room.

If the primary relationship is that of the poet and the audience, the space still provides some character to the experience. Some spaces embed the poet within the audience and some separate the two. How poets use or bridge that gap is part of the show.

Photographically, venues set the angles we have. They provide (or don’t!) opportunities to shoot from the front, the sides, from above or below the level of the performer, and thus help define the photographs available. These spaces necessarily both shape and create the story that we are trying to tell.

A full house at the Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge.

A full house at the Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge.

For instance, at the Cantab Lounge, one of our 2013 host venues, the space is defined by the closeness of the audience, by well-worn black walls, and visually by a pipe that often seems to be running right behind the poet’s head. As compared to the Berklee Performance Hall, our finals venue, it is a mess. A close, limited, ill-lit, character-rich, wonderful, welcoming mess. At Berklee’s big, beautiful, real performing hall, the light on the performers is bright, the ISOs are lower, and behind them is basically a wall of nothing. Performers in space.

I’m looking forward to shooting in both of these spaces again this August at NPS. Thanks in part to the success of NPS 2011, we’re also using a lot of new venues this year. While the poets and the audience create new performances there, I’ll also be looking forward to what our photo team comes up with in all of them.

Below are some more shots from some of the venues that we’re using again this year…

Until then…

- Marshall

The Old Cambridge Baptist Church, site of 2011's make-up Semi-final on Saturday afternoon.

The Old Cambridge Baptist Church, site of 2011′s make-up Semi-final on Saturday afternoon.

Hosting the 2011 Finals at the Berklee Performance Center.

Hosting the 2011 Finals at the Berklee Performance Center.


Steve Subrizi performing at the Cambridge Y.

Steve Subrizi performing at the Cambridge Y.


Marlon Carey at the Lizard Lounge, one of Boston's host venues and site for prelims.

Marlon Carey at the Lizard Lounge, one of Boston’s host venues and site for prelims.


Emotion through motion

Tonight we have guest appearance by Louder than a Bomb and NPS photographer Jeff Tamagini….

Poetry is all about emotion. It’s raw, captivating and powerful. The old saying is a picture is worth a thousand words, but how do you convey the rawness of the emotion from a poet. Well that is when it is all about the motion.


NPS 2011 - Day 1

NPS 2011 - Day 2

NPS 2011 - Day 1

NPS 2011 - Day 2

NPS 2011 - Day 2

– Until next week

Fashionable Metrical Feet

Having worked many a poetic event I find myself looking for ‘extracurricular subjects’ during the performances. Occasionally I take photos of footwear…



Now I’ve been asking around for contributions to this series when San Francisco formalist poet Artie Moffa suggested poet footwear photos so you can imagine my chuckle when I realized I wasn’t the only one. Here’s a few of Artie’s wonderful captures.

Katelyn Lucas at the Lit SlamOakland Poet Katelyn Lucas rocks bold colors as she reads her work at the Lit Slam.

PauliIn town for just a few nights with their owner, Paulie Lipman’s shoes make quite the impression at the annual First Night show in Boston.

Simone Beaubien Emcees First Night 2010 in BostonBoston Cantab Slammaster Simone Beaubien’s boots were made for walking all over poets’ hearts at the annual First Night show in Boston.

Artie's Last StandArtie Moffa’s shoes remain on stage after his final night at the Cantab Lounge.

– Until next week

PS Want to contribute? Drop me a line.

My own rules

Technology brings new tools, and while I don’t always like to see a poet working off a phone, I have a personal photography rule that applies here…

Poetic Experiment




MBTA Slam-177

Sometimes one ought to embrace the thing we think is not worth a photograph (from Richie’s Rules).

–Until next week.

les mains







In slam, a gesture can mean so much. Hands can queue. Hands can direct, Hands can hint.

–Until next week.

2008 Six-Pack

The local scene here in the greater Boston area has some pretty powerful women representing. Luckily I’ve been around to capture it.

Iyeoka Ivie OkoawoIyeoka Ivie Okoawo

Emily O'NeillEmily O’Neill

Cassandra de AlbaCassandra de Alba

Jade SylvanJade Sylvan

Cole RodriguezCole Rodriguez

Carrie RudzinskiCarrie Rudzinski

All of these photos are from 2008. Ancient history in many ways.

– Until next week


I don’t remember when I started taking shots of microphones but it has definitely been going on for awhile…




2009 NorthBeast mikes

The title is from vulgar Latin, and refers to the oft repeated refrain, “respect the mic”

–Until next week.

The points are not the point…




The Numbers


–Until next week

The youngins…

Over the last two days the NPS photography crew has been photographing a young people’s poetry festival. Louder Than a Bomb – Massachusetts is based upon an original 2001 idea by Kevin Coval and Anna West of the nonprofit organization Young Chicago Authors. The Bay State’s version gathers youth from all around Massachusetts to share their stories and listen to the voices from other parts of the state. It’s been an amazing couple of days.

Watch out – these kids will be appearing at a venue near you in the next few years.

Free Verse





And Kevin Coval came in to host one of the semi-final bouts this afternoon.

–Until next week

Sometimes it’s about the audience

MBTA Slam-363-Edit





–Until next week.

Men in motion…

Mark PalosMark Palos

Big Poppa E (Erik Ott)Big Poppa E (Erik Ott)

Buddy WakefieldBuddy Wakefield

Harlym 125 (Jamele Adams)Harlym 125 (Jamele Adams)

Inphynit (Marlon Carey)Inphynit (Marlon Carey)

Maxwell KesslerMaxwell Kessler

–Until next week.

Cantab blues

Charlie PopeCharley Pope

April RangerApril Ranger

Patrick ShaughnessyPatrick Shaughnessy

Melissa Newman-EvansMelissa Newman-Evans

Tom DaleyTom Daley

Carrie RudzinskiCarrie Rudzinski

Sean Patrick MulroySean Patrick Mulroy

Sue SavoySue Savoy

James CarolineJames Caroline

Sometimes it’s just about the photos.
–Until next week.

So we got a little sidetracked…

Skyline from the Charles-001In Boston we have a number of Spring heralds letting us know it’s on the way, first via the calendar, Easter arrives in there somewhere, the Red Sox home opener, and then Patriot’s Day – commemorating the anniversary of the first battles of the American Revolutionary War in Lexington and Concord. Jane Franklin in a letter to her brother Benjamin wrote about how terrifying it was to hear in Boston about the shooting in Lexington and Concord. “The distress it has occasioned is past my description,” she wrote.

We observe Patriot’s Day on the third Monday in April. Many Bostonians know the holiday as “Marathon Monday”. The weekend is an international affair with runners and visitors from all over the world. But is very much a family holiday from Hopkinton all 26.2 miles to the finish line in Boston’s Bay Back neighborhood.

When bystanders to this weeks attack ran toward the first blast, and never flinched as the second blast went off, the terrorists lost. Author Dennis Lehane said it best, “We’ve been here a long time. You’re not going to change us. Boston’s always been kind of a contrarian city. It’s always been an iconoclastic city and it’s always been a city with a deep love and respect for civil discourse and civil liberties. And so if you think we’re going to suspend any of those because two very harebrained brothers decided to roll a couple of bombs into a marathon, then the sentiment was you got another thing coming. You confused us with another city.”

Yes our sense of security is a bit in tatters right about now. But I hope you don’t think this changes anything, do you? Terrorists cannot terrorize this city. We won’t cancel next year’s marathon nor are we going to cancel the National Poetry Slam.

Now, even more than ever, Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville are thrilled to be welcoming the wonderful, albeit crazy, slam family to our irrepressible city. We are looking forward to seeing you in August. We have never been so Bostonian as we were this week so four months from now come and help us celebrate poetry at its best.

– Until next week.


Collaboration across artistic mediums – one poet, another a photographer. Collaboration is a thing that cannot be produced by either of the parties working alone. Brian Eno once said about his collaboration with Bowie, “Every collaboration helps you grow.”

Old North ChurchThis just behind the Old North Church in Boston’s North End. It is most famous for signaling Paul Revere. Behind the church in the courtyard is the Dog Tag Memorial – six posts set in a gentle curve, dogtags hung on chains, and a pretty planting of flowers at the base. A remembrance for fallen American soldiers. Each dogtag representing a fallen soldier in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. When the wind blows, the tags make an eerie chiming sound.

Paulie LipmanThis is Denver poet Paulie Lipman. I supplied Paulie a selection of photos as a sort of inspiration. There was no explanation just a bunch of photos I had selected. He was to pick one and create.

This is the photo he chose to use. dogtags

Here’s Paulie Lipman’s poem and interpretation of my work…

Letting someone explain a photo without my interpretation is similar to a song, once it’s out there someone can take it on as their own, then I can grow.

– Until next week.

The same, but different

Mostly slam poets recite their work. They perform it. But with new work or work in progress many poets will read the new piece off the page. Occasionally it’s just something that is an older work, that they cannot remember well enough, so they read it.

Richard Cambridge reading 'off the page'

I’m not much into smart phones. I’m the kind of guy that still uses maps. And I love to print photographs. As an old school photographer (50 years with a camera) there’s something very satisfying about holding a photograph in my hands. Somehow digital photos feel like unfinished goods. There’s a tactile richness of a developed image. I feel the print is a way to value my work, to take it beyond its digital, transient state. There is something sacred about having a photograph in print form.

When I see a poet reading off the page it becomes graphic. There’s a tactile richness of ink, or pencil, on the page. I can see the edits through the translucent page I can see the craft. There’s a tactile richness. It’s not transient it’s fixed onto the page. There is something sacred about having a poem in print form.

Poetic Experiment

Where you can dwell on (or in) a photograph, poetry like music is ephemeral, it exists only for the moment of comprehension. Photography and poetry are different but equally powerful stuff.

–Until next week

A Quiet Moment

April Ranger and Carrie Rudzinski at the Boston Poetry Slam Team Feature, 2011.

Tonight is our first guest appearance by fellow Cantab and NPS 2013 Photographer Marshall Goff…

There are usually three things that happen after poets are introduced and called to the stage.

The first is simple: they come to the stage and adjust the microphone to the height they want it.

Then the applause dies down. There may be something called out from the audience — a friendly joke about what the poet is wearing, or maybe just a shout of encouragement. The poet may laugh, point at someone in the audience, or share a joke back. More often though, they say nothing.

And then, there is a moment where most poets pause. For some, it’s short – engaging the clutch briefly while switching gears at speed. Others slow down, shut out the audience, and gather energy or focus on what they are about to put themselves through.

I’ve seen poets turn completely away from the room. Many of them shut their eyes. Others just look away and then back, then begin.

A lot of the time, I don’t take this picture. In a public performance, this is a very personal moment. It is also frequently the quietest the room gets. The small sound of the camera as the mirror slaps out of the way of the shutter seems louder and more intrusive in the anticipatory silence. I can’t successfully shoot a slam and be entirely unnoticed, but neither do I want to distract the audience or the performer.

And yet, when I am shooting at slams, I am always seeking gestures or expressions that show us something about the poet or the performance. So just as I am drawn to grander gestures, I am also drawn to this quiet moment.

Even the most energetic poets have this quiet moment. This is Bobby Crawford in April of last year. On a scale of 1 to Dynamic, Bobby’s performances go to 11. Here he is in stillness, right before performing during Boston Poetry Slam team qualifying in 2012.

Even the most energetic poets have this quiet moment. This is Bobby Crawford in April of last year. On a scale of 1 to Dynamic, Bobby’s performances go to 11. Here he is in stillness, right before performing during Boston Poetry Slam team qualifying in 2012.

Perhaps my favorite shot of this last step before performing is of Sam Teitel at the Cantab Lounge in October 2010. Sam gives live to some intensely personal work on stage. Before performing the most personal of them, he becomes completely alone in a full room, gathered entirely to himself.

Perhaps my favorite shot of this last step before performing is of Sam Teitel at the Cantab Lounge in October 2010. Sam gives life to some intensely personal work on stage. Before performing the most personal of them, he becomes completely alone in a full room, gathered entirely to himself.

– Until next week.

Poetry happens in many ways across this city

One of the fascinating aspects of the poetry scene around this town is not in the public venues for performance where the work is well polished but what can happen in someone’s apartment. Often a diverse group comes together, the location is never published and invites happen via word-of-mouth through a network of friends. Sometimes there’s music. There’s always good drink, tasty food, and varied conversation – always spoken word. Sometimes new unfinished or rough beginning pieces are presented (which gets reworked after it is vocalized). It’s an important place for the exchange of ideas, inspiration, and a safe environment to stumble.

These two photo are from Samantha Milowsky’s (creator of Amethyst Arsenic literary magazine) Salon, Somerhouse where Jade Sylvan was the Artist in Residence during the summer of 2012. As you can see it’s not always about the performer but a document of what took place. I wanted to capture the feel of the affair. The intimate vibe required a smaller old-school camera so as not to be intrusive in the small spaces. I felt very fortunate to have been invited in with my camera, and very happy to have been in the house.

– Until next week.

20 Years at the Cantab Lounge

Patricia Smith & Michael Brown are the founders of the Boston Poetry Slam. In 1992 they moved their fledgling into the Cantab Lounge. This past October the Boston Poetry Slam, the fourth oldest running slam in the country, celebrated its 20th anniversary downstairs at the Cantab. This venerable institution hosts the home team for the 2013 National Poetry Slam.

– Until next week.

The Sunday Evening Photo Series

Copyright © 2011 Richard F. BeaubienHere we go again. Just as in 2011 we’ll be posting a weekly series on Sunday evenings as we head into the 2013 National Poetry Slam to be held in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville in August.

We start off this series of weekly Sunday evening photos in an appropriate way with a quick look back at some views inside the early bout venues. Make sure you click on an image to see them larger.

– Until next week.