The Poet and the Scientist: Poetry Slams ‘Til Sunrise

Ashley (the poet) and Marine (the scientist) met at A-Camp, fell in love and set off into the sunset – on a budget. These shoestring-travel enthusiasts are hitting every major city between Boston and Los Angeles on a country-wide tour and staying with as many Autostraddlers as they can find. Ashley just released a book of poems and is promoting it on the road, while Marine is keeping things organized and on budget. This is their journey.

We arrived at Logan International Airport thrilled and excited not only to meet new faces, but also to reunite with old ones. This past week was NPS2013 Poetry Slam, which consisted of five days, 72 teams, and a whole shit-ton of poems. We laughed, we cried, we stayed up until ungodly hours of the night to cheer on our friends and favorites.


Marine: Boston is an absolutely beautiful city, even when it’s cloudy. I sat and worked on my pharmacy school applications several times by the Charles River, and it was very relaxing. The second day we discovered a restaurant called Cinderella’s which had a delicious and thrifty pasta special for lunch.

Jamaica Pond

Jamaica Pond


Charles River

Charles River

Ashley: Rather than staying in the host hotel with the other poets, we chose a cheaper option. We stayed in our A-Camp cabin mate’s apartment with her cat and two roommates while she was away.

Morgan's Cat

Morgan’s Cat


Night two was when the real excitement began. The National Poetry Slam was starting! If any of you readers were there this week (or watched the livestream), we want an open thread of your feelings/opinions/#NPShade in the comments! We started at the Cantab to watch our home team, Da Poetry Lounge, go head to head with Providence, New York and Minneapolis. Ashley opened the night as the sacrificial poet and then cheered our team on as they took 1st place!

Star Bull City Slam

Star Bull City Slam

Ashley: As the week progressed, I got really geeked to see that even though I wasn’t competing on a team this year, I was still named one of the top 10 queer spoken word artists, and squealed out loud on the subway car I was in at the time. My home venue then went on to win their semi-finals bout, which ensured their place on final stage! Also- ANDREA MOTHERFUCKING GIBSON was in the audience behind us during that bout.

Marine: We were highly embarrassed when the MC pointed out our matching shoes (which I had repeatedly bugged Ashley about prior to the trip) in front of the entire room.

After the first few bouts, we found out there was free wifi in Harvard yard, and that Harvard yard is beautiful and there’s brick everywhere and it must be so cute covered in snow and oh how we love the east coast! We also found an honor-system run, unmanned book stand and this really cool street art that we think needs more attention.


Marine in Harvard Yard

Outsider In Project

Outsider In Project

Marine: An event I really enjoyed at NPS was the head-to-head haiku slam where poets battled against each other with very witty punch lines. It’s amazing how such a poem can cause you to experience so much emotion with only three lines. Glori B took the win in a crazy 17 round haiku battle against Theresa Davis.

So final stage was fast upon us, which is like the Super Bowl of poetry, and Rachel McKibbens, who talked about fisting and menstruation at various points throughout the evening. If you missed the livestream, you should reevaluate your priorities, the line to get in wrapped around the block! Final stage consisted of our hometown heroes, Da Poetry Lounge from Hollywood, Elevated! from San Diego, team SNO from New Orleans and the Nuyorican Poets Café from New York. Though each team totally deserved to win at that point, team SNO defended their title and earned a two-peat crown.

Finals Line

Finals Line

We had a blast. Ashley got to share a few poems at the QILTBAG open mic, and an impromptu cypher. We stayed up and watched the sunrise after seeing Dominique Ashaeed win the NUPIC title (We don’t remember what that stands for, but it’s the individual underground slam that happens secretly in the middle of the night. It’s very Dead Poet’s Society, only louder.)

Marine: We tried to stick to our daily budget of $16 a day, for a grand total of $140 a week, but due to our miscalculation of the MBTA’s last green line train on Saturday night, we were forced to take a cab home. Our sweet tooth also got the better of us a time or two. Although we went a little over budget, we are hoping to make it up next week!

Up next: Providence, Albany and New York!

We are still looking for housing in:
-Richmond, VA (09/15-09/18)
-Houston, TX (10/13)
Email us if you can help: Ashley [at] thatstarvingartist [dot] com, and leave us a comment to give us good feels on the road!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Ashley Catharine

I'm a poet/designer/crazy person who loves Jameson, writing, coffee and family.

Ashley has written 15 articles for us.


  1. Congrats on the top 10! That’s fabulous!
    And I don’t think there’s a single person reading who hasn’t had a similar Matching Shoes Incident. Been there, twin-ed that.

  2. Man I’m getting some serious travel envy reading about you guys. Sounds like you’re having a blast and I love this straddler couch surfing thing. If you ever find yourselves in Australia you’re welcome to set up camp in spare room. This goes for any straddler adventurous to visit the land of sunburn :)

  3. Hey Ashley,

    Thanks for the write up! I was at the bout when you where the sacrificial poet Tuesday night at Cantab. You were fantastic, your poem was so important. I was visiting Boston as well, I’m actually from Queens, will you be performing in NYC when you come to town? I’d really like to hear more of your work!

    • I will be performing in NYC, I have a spot calibrating for another slam, but mostly will be hitting up some open mics! The Nuyorican is a spot I’ve been dying to see for a long time! We’ll be in NY this week- the 25th-sept. 4th! Let’s meet up or something! email me, [email protected]

  4. Jeez, I’m trying to think of mindblowingly awesome things to do in Albany so that it won’t seem dull after your time in Boston!

Comments are closed.