This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

"Riot" by Dylan Kingsley

Dylan Kingsley performing "Riot" at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, AZ on May 10, 2022.

Ghost Poetry Show is committed to creating a community of writers from the greater Phoenix area (and beyond) to share their work on stage. We take pride in having poets that have never performed their work in front of anyone, all the way up to poets that have competed at the national level. No matter gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age anyone can take the stage and compete in the three round poetry slam.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

"Dear Younger Me" by K.C. Kennings

K.C. Kennings performing "Dear Younger Me" at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, AZ on May 10, 2022.

Ghost Poetry Show is committed to creating a community of writers from the greater Phoenix area (and beyond) to share their work on stage. We take pride in having poets that have never performed their work in front of anyone, all the way up to poets that have competed at the national level. No matter gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age anyone can take the stage and compete in the three round poetry slam.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

"For My Handicap People" by Benjamin Shea

Benjamin Shea performing "For My Handicap People" at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, AZ on May 10, 2022.

Ghost Poetry Show is committed to creating a community of writers from the greater Phoenix area (and beyond) to share their work on stage. We take pride in having poets that have never performed their work in front of anyone, all the way up to poets that have competed at the national level. No matter gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age anyone can take the stage and compete in the three round poetry slam.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

"Yaakov" by Cole B’Seyder

Cole B’Seyder performing at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, AZ on June 5, 2022.

Ghost Poetry Show is committed to creating a community of writers from the greater Phoenix area (and beyond) to share their work on stage. We take pride in having poets that have never performed their work in front of anyone, all the way up to poets that have competed at the national level. No matter gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age anyone can take the stage and compete in the three round poetry slam. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Sedona Poetry Slam returns for its 14th season Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre



The Sedona Poetry Slam returns for its 14th season Saturday, Sept. 17. Performance poets will bring high-energy, competitive spoken word to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre starting at 7:30 p.m. 

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. Anyone can sign up to compete in the slam for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. To compete in the slam, poets will need three original poems, each lasting no longer than three minutes. No props, costumes nor musical accompaniment are permitted. The poets are judged Olympics-style by five members of the audience selected at random at the beginning of the slam.

Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. Poets come from as far away as Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, competing against adult poets from Sedona and Cottonwood, college poets from Northern Arizona University and youth poets from Sedona Red Rock High School. All types of poetry are welcome on the stage, from street-wise hip-hop and narrative performance poems, to political rants and introspective confessionals. Any poem is a "slam" poem if performed in a competition. All poets get three minutes per round to entertain and inspire the audience with their creativity.

We lost our dear friend Bernard "The Klute" Schober on July 18, 2022.

This will be the first Sedona poetry slam without the iconic Bernard "The Klute" Schober, a 49-year-old Phoenix poet who died suddenly on July 18. A competitor of more than 20 years who often won the Sedona slam, Klute represented Sedona on two National Poetry Slam teams and brought humorous, dramatic and political poetry to the stage in equal measure. His poetry also conveyed his passion for shark conservation, and he donated his winnings and book sales to shark conservation nonprofits.

Mary D. Fisher Theatre is located at 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona. Tickets are $12. For tickets, call 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org.

The poetry slams of the season will be held Saturdays, Oct. 15, Nov. 12, and Dec. 10, in 2022, and Saturdays Jan. 28, April 1, and May 13, in 2023.

The prize money is funded in part by a donation from Verde Valley poetry supporters Jeanne and Jim Freeland.

Email foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up early to compete or by the Friday before the slam or at the door the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive.

For more information, visit sedonafilmfestival.com or foxthepoet.blogspot.com.

What is Poetry Slam?

Founded at the Green Mill Tavern in Chicago in 1984 by Marc Smith, poetry slam is a competitive artistic sport designed to get people who would otherwise never go to a poetry reading excited about the art form when it becomes a high-energy competition. Poetry slams are judged by five randomly chosen members of the audience who assign numerical value to individual poets' contents and performances.

Poetry slam has become an international artistic sport, with more than 100 major poetry slams in the United States, Canada, Australia and Western Europe. Slam poets have opened at the Winter Olympics, performed at the White House and at the United Nations General Assembly and were featured on "Russell Simmons' Def Poets" on HBO.

Sedona has sent four-poet teams to represent the city at the National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., Boston, Cambridge, Mass., Oakland, Calif., Decatur, Ga., Denver and Chicago.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

"Growth" by Israel Ybarra

Israel Ybarra performing "Growth" at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, AZ on May 10, 2022.

Ghost Poetry Show is committed to creating a community of writers from the greater Phoenix area (and beyond) to share their work on stage. We take pride in having poets that have never performed their work in front of anyone, all the way up to poets that have competed at the national level. No matter gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age anyone can take the stage and compete in the three round poetry slam.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

A brief history of the Flagstaff Poetry Slam Team 2001-2022


December 2000, FlagSlam founded.
First FlagSlam Dynasty
The Founders' Era 


In 2001, 12th National Poetry Slam in Seattle, Wash.:
Grand Slam Champion: Josh Fleming
Nick Fox
Chris Lane
Christopher Fox Graham
Alternate: Eric “A-rek” Matthew Dye
Coach: Andy “War” Wall
After I graduated from Arizona State University and made the FlagSlam team, I moved to Flagstaff in June.

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) Dallas
(2) Los Angeles
(3) Seattle
(4) New York, NYC-Urbana
56 teams

Individual Finals
(1) Mayda del Valle
(2) Beau Sia
(3) Shawn V.
(4) Morris Stegosaurus
(5) Angela Boyce
(6) Mama Blue

Second FlagSlam Dynasty
Kofonow Era

In 2002, 13th National Poetry Slam in Minneapolis, Minn.:
Grand Slam Champion: Suzy La Follette
Logan Phillips
Andy “War” Hall
Dom Flemons
Alternate: Jarrod Masseud Karimi (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
Coach and alternate: John Raymond Kofonow
I tried out for the FlagSlam team in 2002 but pulled the "1" and got clobbered. I had already been planning the Save the Male Tour with Josh Fleming, so that was my summer instead. 
 First tie at NPS: New York City-Urbana and Detroit

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
Tie: New York, NYC-Urbana and Detroit
(3) New York, Nuyorican Poets Cafe
(4) Seattle
54 teams

Individual Finals
(1) Sekou tha Misfit
(2) Corbet Dean, of Mesa
(3) Kamal Symonette-Dixon
(4) Xero Skidmore
(5) Rives
(6) Gina Loring
(7) Shane Koyczan
(8) Joel Chmara
In 2003, 14th National Poetry Slam in Chicago, Ill.:
Grand Slam Champion: Suzy La Follette
Logan Phillips
Cass Hodges
Dom Flemons
Alternate: Julie Hudgens (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
Coach and alternate: John Raymond Kofonow
I was a volunteer bout manager at NPS in 2003.

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) Los Angeles
(2) New York, Nuyorican Poets Cafe
(3) Austin
(4) Oakland

Individual Finals
(1) Mighty Mike McGee
(2) Shane Koyczan
(3) Delisle
(4) Soul Evans
(5) Omari
(6) Suzy La Follette
(7) Corina Delgado
(8) Anis Mojgani
(9) Da Shade
(10) Jive Poetic

In 2004: 15th National Poetry Slam in St. Louis, Mo.:
Grand Slam Champion: Christopher Fox Graham
Eric Larson
Logan Phillips
Brent Heffron
Coaches: Mary Guaraldi, and John Raymond Kofonow
First time all four NPS finalist teams were from west of the Mississippi River (Hollywood's Da Poetry Lounge, Denver, Dallas and Berkeley). One of the worst organized NPSes due to the location of venues relative to each other and the venues in question. This was the first NORAZ Poets slam team.


In 2005: 16th National Poetry Slam in Albuquerque, N.M.:
Grand Slam Champion: Chris Lane
Logan Phillips
Christopher Fox Graham
Meghan Jones
Aaron Johnson
Coaches: Mary Guaraldi and John Raymond Kofonow
FlagSlam sent a crew of poets and supporters because Albuquerque was so close. I was also legal guardian for my ward, Sarrah Wile. One of the best organized NPSes. All venues were within walking distance of the Hotel Blue. The hotel manager lost his job for what he allowed us to do, but won the Spirit of the Slam Award.This was the secondNORAZ Poets slam team.

In 2006: 17th National Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas:
Aaron Johnson
Christopher Fox Graham (kicked off team before the National Poetry Slam)
Meghan Jones (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
Justin “Biskit” Powell
Alternate: A.J. Moyer (Joined team)
Coaches: Greg Nix (quit before the National Poetry Slam) and John Raymond Kofonow (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
This year was a train wreck. Those who know why, know why. I'm glad A.J., Aaron Johnson and Biskit had a good time at NPS, though. This was the third and final NORAZ Poets slam team.

Third FlagSlam Dynasty
Johnson-Phillips Era

In 2007: 18th National Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas:
Grand Slam Champion: Joseph Nieves
Aaron Johnson
Troy Thurman
J.J. Valentine
Last year Individual Poetry Slam Championships were held at NPS. They would be held at a separate event, the Individual World Poetry Slam starting in 2008. In January 2007, Christopher Lane and his NORAZ Poets nonprofit stopped doing any poetry slams in cut all financial support to FlagSlam. Slammaster Aaron Johnson left Flagstaff and with his departure, the leaderless slam lost its venue. By all accounts, after NPS 2007, the FlagSlam's continued existence was in doubt.

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) Charlotte, SlamCharlotte
(2) Rhyme or Die (Killeen, Texas)
(3) New York, louderARTS
(4) Denver, Slam Nuba
(5) New York, Nuyorican Poets Cafe
76 teams

Individual Finals* 
(1) Danny Sherrard
(2) Christopher Michael
(3) Shannon Leigh
(4) Alvin Lau
Other finalists: Kealoha
Michael Guinn
6 is 9
Ed Mabrey
Oz
Robbie Q. Telfer

*This was the final year Individual Finals were held at the National Poetry Slam. A separate tournament, the Individual World Poetry Slam, or iWPS, would be held in the fall starting in 2008.

Fourth FlagSlam Dynasty
Rebirth Era (Cartier-Brown-O'Brien, notable for the Lost Boys and the "Flagstaff cadence")

In 2008: 19th National Poetry Slam in Madison, Wis.:
Grand Slam Champion: Frank O'Brien
Ryan Brown
John Cartier
Jessica Guadarrama
Alternate: Kami Henderson
Coach: Dana Sakowicz

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) Charlotte, SlamCharlotte
(2) New York, louderARTS
(3) Austin
(4) Boston, Cantab
75 teams

Group Piece Finals
(1) NYC-Urbana
(2) Slam Nahuatl Richmond VA
(3) Killeen Texas
(4) Cleveland
(5) Atlanta
(6) Philadelphia
(7) Charlotte
(8) Honolulu
(9) Chicago-Green Mill
(10) Phoenix (Aaron Johnson, The Klute, KB Chesko, Christian Drake, Rowie Shebala)
(11) Loser Slam, Lincroft, N.J.
(12) Seattle
(13) Fort Worth


In 2009: 20th National Poetry Slam in West Palm Beach, FL.
Grand Slam Champion: Frank O'Brien
Ryan Brown
John Cartier
Andrew “Antranormus” Wanner
Jessica Guadarrama
Coach: Dana Sakowicz

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) St. Paul, Soapboxing
(2) Albuquerque, ABQ Slams
(3) San Francisco
(4) New York, Nuyorican Poets Cafe
68 teams

Group Piece Finals
(1) Berkeley Poetry Slam
(2) Seattle Poetry Slam
(3)  Fort Worth Poetry Slam
(4) The Stage, West Palm Beach, Fla. 
(5) Art Amok, Atlanta
(6) California- Life Sentence Slam
(7) Loser Slam, New Jersey
(8) Toronto Poetry Slam
(9) Salt City Slam, Salt Lake City
(10) Slamarillo, Amarillo Texas
Fifth FlagSlam Dynasty
Brown Era
In 2010: 21st National Poetry Slam in St. Paul, Minn:
Grand Slam Champion: Ryan Brown
Brian Towne
Johnny P (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
RahMahMercy (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
Frank O'Brien (Joined team in Johnny P's slot)
Christopher Fox Graham (Joined team in RahMahMercy's slot after landing at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport the day before NPS)
Alternate: Christopher Harbster (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
I was going to be a volunteer bout manager at NPS in 2010, but wound up on the team.

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) St. Paul, Soapboxing
(2) New York, Nuyorican Poets Cafe
(3) Bull City Slam Team, Durham, North Carolina 
(4) Austin, Neo Soul
78 teams

Group Piece Finals
(1) Slam New Orleans
(2) Pomona
(3) Santa Cruz
(4) Oakland
(5) Vancouver
(6) Minneapolis, 
(7) Fort Worth
(8) Ocotillo, (Tucson, Arizona)
(9) Seattle
(10) Urbana
(11) Toronto

In 2011: 22nd National Poetry Slam in Cambridge and Boston, Mass.:
Grand Slam Champion: Shaun “nodalone” Srivastava
Maple Dewleaf
Taylor Marie “Tay” Kayonnie-Ehrlich
Christopher Harbster (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
Alternate: Tyler “Valence” Sirvinskas (Joined team)
I was a volunteer venue manager at NPS in 2011.

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) Denver, Slam Nuba
(2) New York, Nuyorican Poets Cafe
(3) Providence Poetry Slam
(4) Columbus, Ohio Writing Wrongs
76 teams

Group Piece Finals
(1) ABQ Slams
(2) Austin Poetry Slam
(3) The Intangible Slam, New York City
(4) Dallas Poetry Slam
(5) Elevated! (San Diego)
(6) Houston Poetry Slam
(7) Knoxville Poetry Slam
(8) Austin Neo Soul
(9) Houston VIP
(10) Eclectic Truth, Baton Rouge, La. 
In 2012: 23rd National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C.:
Grand Slam Champion: Christopher Fox Graham
Ryan Brown
Tara Pollock (tied)
Shaun “nodalone” Srivastava (tied)
Alternate: Jackson Morris (Joined team)

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) Slam New Orleans
(2) Killeen, Texas
(3) New York, Nuyorican Poets Cafe
(4) Hollywood (Da Poetry Lounge)
72 teams

Group Piece Finals
(1) Austin Neo Soul
(2) Bull City Slam
(3) ABQ Slams
(4) Dallas Poetry Slam
(5) Piedmont Poetry Slam
(6) Burlington Slam Project
(7) Jersey City Poetry Slam
(8) Loser Slam
(9) Vancouver Poetry Slam
(10) Urbana

Sixth FlagSlam Dynasty
Quinonez Era

In 2013: 24th National Poetry Slam in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, Mass.:
Grand Slam Champion: Christopher Fox Graham
Jackson Morris
Vincent Vega, aka Vincent Simone
Verbal Kensington (opted out to give Gabbi Jue her slot and compete for the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team)
Alternate: Austin Reeves (Joined team)
2nd alternate: Gabbi Jue (Joined team)

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) Slam New Orleans
(2) Hollywood (Da Poetry Lounge)
(3) New York, Nuyorican Poets Cafe
(4) Elevated! San Diego
70 teams

Group Piece Finals
(tie 1) Austin Neo Soul / Intangible Slam
(tie 3) Java Monkey / Houston VIP
(5) Hear Here (Colorado Springs)
(6) Battle Born (Las Vegas)
(7) Seattle Poetry Slam (Seattle)
(8) Dallas Poetry Slam (Dallas)
(9) Salt City Slam (Salt Lake City)
(10) Sedona Poetry Slam (Sedona, Arizona)



In 2014: 25th National Poetry Slam in Oakland, Calif.:
Grand Slam Champion: Ryan Smalley
Josh Wiss
Josh Floyd
Christopher Fox Graham
Alternate: Claire Pearson (Joined team)
Coach: John Quinonez
A caravan headed from Flagstaff: The Yorktown, The Truth Bomber and The Majin Buu. On the first night in Oakland, The Yorktown was broken into and thieves stole computers and clothes from John Quinonez, Christopher Fox Graham and Ryan Smalley but we still had an awesome time.

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) D.C. Beltway Poetry Slam
(2) New York, NYC-Urbana
(3) Slam New Orleans
(4) Denver, Slam Nuba
72 teams

Group Piece Finals
(1) Hear, Hear! Poetry Slam
(2) Austin Neo Soul
(3) WU Slam (St. Louis)
(4) Philly Pigeon
(5) Palo Alto
(6) Verbal Slap
(7) Lethal Poetry (Chicago)
(8) Denver Mercury
(9) Battle Born (Las Vegas)
(10) Boise Poetry Slam


In 2015: 26th National Poetry Slam in Oakland, Calif.:
Grand Slam Champion: Ryan Smalley
Christopher Fox Graham 
Gabbi Jue
Vincent Vega (Moved to Japan prior to NPS)
Alternate: Claire Pearson (Joined team)
Coach: John Quinonez
 Due to the untimely death of regular FlagSlam poet Lauren Delores Spencer in a car accident, the FlagSlam donated money to assist with funeral expenses. FlagSlam was late paying for registration and instead was placed on the waiting list, but never made it to the regular rotation. Team members went and volunteered and still had an awesome time. 

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) The House Slam (Boston)
(2) Hawaii Slam
(3) Berkeley Slam
(4) Denver Mercury Poetry Slam
72 teams

Group Piece Finals
(1) Austin Poetry Slam
(2) Palo Alto
(3) Austin Neo Soul
(4) Slam Charlotte
(5) Atlanta Art Amok
(6) Rain City
(7) Lizard Lounge Poetry Slam
(8) Fort Worth
(9) Portland Poetry Slam
(10) Seattle Poetry Slam

Seventh FlagSlam Dynasty
Quorum of Five Era

In 2016: 27th National Poetry Slam in Decatur, Ga.
Grand Slam Champion: Ryan Smalley
Gabbi Jue
Claire Pearson
Christopher Fox Graham 
Alternate: Kim Possible, aka Kim Jarchow, (Joined team)
Coach: John Quinonez
John Quinonez officially stepped down as slammaster at the conclusion of the slam, handing the reins of slammastership to a Quorum of Five: Gabbi Jue, Rowie Shebala, Wil Williams, Claire Pearson and Kim JarchowTo be clear, Wil Williams is, without a doubt, an absolute shitbag person, rudely condescending, most especially to other women, ignorantly and embarrassingly self-righteous and wholly unprepared to lead anything other than a solo long walk off a short pier.  I had very little to do with her but the exodus of veteran poets sick of her strong-arm tactics to dominate the event was deafening. She literally made other poets I love cry and drove freshman poets away and they called me about it. After running the slam in the ground and causing the five-women to break up as leaders, Facing a coup or complete dissolution of the slam, Wil Williams fled both the slam and Flagstaff and is reportedly holed up in Phoenix as a  "podcast critic," which is as pointless as that sounds and, unsurprisingly, "reviews" things because she made her judgmentalism professionally masturbatory. If she gets hit by a truck, most Flagstaff poets will feel bad for the truck and I know which women will be driving it. 
In any case, FlagSlam has seen struggles before, but Wil Williams was a clear, present and unique threat to its survival even more so than COVID a few years later.
 Kim Jarchow and Claire Pearson salvaged the slam and rebuilt it.

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) Slammageddon Baltimore
(2) San Diego PoetrySLAM
(3) The House Slam (Boston)
(4) Austin NeoSoul
72 teams

Group Piece Finals
(1) ABQ Slams
(2) Dada Poetry Slam
(3) Burlington Ontario
(4) Northampton Poetry
(5) Freshwater Wordsmiths
(6) OM Center Poetry Slam
(7) Alchemy Slam
(8) Union Square Slam
(9) Nuyorican Poets Café
(tie 10) Hear Here / Houston Poetry Slam / Puro Slam

Eighth FlagSlam Dynasty
Jarchow-Pearson-Gates Era

In 2017: 28th National Poetry Slam in Denver. Colo.
Grand Slam Champion: Josh Wiss
Christopher Fox Graham
Kim Possible, aka Kim Jarchow
Claire Pearson
Alternate: Gabbi Jue, (Joined team)
Coach: Davey Latour, I guess?
This year, I stayed in the Denver suite of the Sedona team (Lydia Gates, Briana Grace Hammerstrom, Rob Chandler Gonzalez and Kenny Kreslake), along with Davey Latour. The suite was awesome and worth every penny.

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) San Diego PoetrySLAM
(2) Brooklyn Poetry Slam
(3) The House Slam (Boston)
(4) Da Poetry Lounge Slam Team (Los Angeles)
84 teams

Group Piece Finals
(1) Dada Poetry Slam
(2) Slam Charlotte Poetry Slam
(3) PuroSlam
(4) Eclectic Truth
(5) Salt City Slam
(6) The Writers Den
(7) Boise Poetry Slam
(tie 8) Steel City Slam / ABQ Slams
(10) Toronto Poetry Slam
(11) Boston Poetry Slam
(12) Ktown Mic Drop Slam
(13) Rain City Slam



In 2018: 29th and final National Poetry Slam in Chicago, Ill.
Grand Slam Champion: Kim Possible, aka Kim Jarchow
Ryan Smalley
Christopher Fox Graham
Lydia Gates
Alternate: Tempest (Joined team)
Coach: None
This year, the Poetry Slam Inc., nonprofit collapse following a contentious SlamMaster's meeting that saw Executive Director Suzy Q, be fired the day before the meeting, then the entire board resign, and a caretaker board eventually form to settle accounts, host iWPS in the fall, then dissolve. It was a mess.

National Poetry Slam Team Finals
(1) Charlotte, SlamCharlotte
(2) Da Poetry Lounge Slam Team (Los Angeles)
(3) Slammageddon Baltimore
(4) Salt City Unified (Salt Lake City)
72 teams

Group Piece Finals
(1) Art Amok
(2) Austin Poetry Slam
(3) The Retort United (The Drunken Retort)
(4) The Fuze Poetry Slam
(5) Jersey City Slam
(6) Orlando Poetry Slam
(7) Boise Poetry Slam
(8) St. Louis Poetry Slam
(9) Nitty Gritty Slam
(10) For The Win
(11) Slam Free or Die

Ninth FlagSlam Dynasty
Gates-Jarchow Era
In 2019: No National Poetry Slam was held
Grand Slam Champion: Zane Schechterle
Gabbi Jue
Lydia Gates
Catheryn Dawn Tarazi
Levi Phillips

The COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, ending the slam until the fall of 2021.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

"Home Of The Rage" by Patrick Hare

Patrick Hare performing "Home Of The Rage" at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, AZ on June 26, 2022.

Ghost Poetry Show is committed to creating a community of writers from the greater Phoenix area (and beyond) to share their work on stage. We take pride in having poets that have never performed their work in front of anyone, all the way up to poets that have competed at the national level. No matter gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age anyone can take the stage and compete in the three round poetry slam.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

"Pill" by Ashanti Files

Ashanti Files performing "Pill" at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, AZ on May 24, 2022.

Ghost Poetry Show is committed to creating a community of writers from the greater Phoenix area (and beyond) to share their work on stage. We take pride in having poets that have never performed their work in front of anyone, all the way up to poets that have competed at the national level. No matter gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age anyone can take the stage and compete in the three round poetry slam.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Remembering Christopher Lane 10 years after his death


10 years ago today, a mutual friend called me early in the morning to let me know Christopher Lane had died. As I wrote 14 days ago on what would have been his 50th birthday, Lane and I were friends, enemies, rivals, collaborators and competitors. I wrote that we were often confused for the other by people in Sedona, mainly by older residents who met one of us -- as two 20ish/30ish slightly balding white guys with goatees who did slam poetry both named "Christopher" -- we were objectively very similar. They would ask me about his children thinking they were mine or ask him about my newspaper stories. 

We had had a falling out in 2006 that we never really rectified. In February 2007, Sedona Monthly ran an article of Lane's franchise of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project and accidently ran my name instead throughout the story and in all the photo captions, to which I took great delight; the reporter had never met me but somehow confused us. Lane later visited the Sedona Red Rock News to tease me about it and congratulate me on the story about him.

By 2009, when I started host the new Sedona Poetry Slam, he was doing his own poetry events, working with youth at Sedona Red Rock High School and the Alzheimer's Poetry Project. I thought, and I think he have too, that we would some day make peace as we had more in common than not.

Sober for over a decade, went to his old stomping grounds in Dallas in 2012 and died later in Sedona from drug-related complications, 14 days after he turned 40.

Christopher Michael Lane

Aug. 5, 1972 — Aug. 19, 2012

Christopher Lane, 40, of Sedona, died unexpectedly at home Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012. Lane is survived by his wife Akasha, sons Oren, 8, and Zephryn, 3; mother Jo Anna Lane; sister Becky Sherrill and J.B., and their children Jennifer, Jonathan and Jordan; brother Eddie Lane II and Sue, their two children; and brother Stephen Lane and Tina, and their two children. Founder of NORAZ Poets, Lane joyfully worked with local high schoolers and Alzheimer’s patients spreading the healing power of poetry. A memorial is Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, at 5 p.m. at Indian Gardens Park. Carpooling is mandatory.

Our History

Christopher Lane grew up in Dallas. His father Eddie Lane died while they were at a lake east of Dallas when Christopher Lane was 11. He wrote about it in the poem "This Arizona Red Dirt."

Lane worked to open Best Buy locations in the late 1990s. He and met one of his buddies from those days at a restaurant in Scottsdale where they rehashed the crazy things and drugs they did. Lane famously had to often clear his upper sinuses with this snort-inhale thing he did because the cocaine and meth had torn up the cartilage between his upper nostrils. Lane left Dallas to get out of the drug scene, moving to Sedona to live with family and detox, telling me later that if he hadn't, he would have died in Dallas.

In a weird karmic twist, I now live a few houses away from his relative's former house, in whose basement apartment he got clean and sober, though his relative lost it to foreclosure in the Great Recession, seven years before I moved into my now-house. Lane later moved into a tiny trailer behind and above Indian Gardens Cafe & Market and Garland's Jewelry Store in Oak Creek Canyon. He worked in the market, as a waiter at Garland's Lodge further north in the canyon was the de facto night watchman over the jewelry store, which had loads of silver and turquoise and, aside from Sedona Fire District Station 5, not another neighbor for miles. Every few months he had to scare away someone, though I don't think anyone every successful broke in.

I met him a short while after at the first few Flagstaff Poetry Slams at The Alley Bar, which has since gone through several incarnations before becoming Firecreek Coffee Co., on Route 66.

We were on the first Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team in 2001, with slam champion Joshua Fleming, slammaster Nick Fox, hip-hop poet Eric "A-rek" Dye, and our beloved coach and future college professor Andy "War" Hall.

A lot of his history is in 2002 poetry book, "Who Is Your God Now?"


After a year as slammaster of the Flagstaff Poetry Slam, I toured the country for three months in the summer of 2002 with poet Joshua Fleming, playwright David Escobedo and singer and songwriter Keith Breucker. 

After the tour, I moved to Phoenix. I would slam in Sedona and Flagstaff for bigger events. I moved to Sedona in March 2004 to help Lane run NORAZ Poets, our 501(c)(3) nonprofit, on whose board I was treasurer. Lane's wife was pregnant with their first son, Oren, and Lane needed someone who could run around Sedona promoting NORAZ Poets and chaparoning touring poets and putting them up for a few nights on my sofa.

Judges at the Canyon Moon Theatre for a Sedona Poetry Slam 

We were going to compete for real, no holds barred, on Friday, April 23, 2004, at the NORAZ Poets Grand Slam at the Orpheum Theater, but Akasha went into labor with Oren.



At the time I wrote: 

"Christopher Lane and Akasha had a baby at 8:17 on Friday night, Oren Jacob Lane ... 7lbs, 9oz. Already has more hair than Lane, and his beard is coming in the same. Oddly enough, I hear he's already taller than Chris. I am a surrogate uncle. But it means he was out of the slam ...." 

Then I wrote about my strep throat, adding, "by the Slam, I was feeling OK, more or less."

"More on the Slam later. Suffice it to say, the venue rocked, the audience was fucking huge, the host Bill Campana, feature (one of my best friends and former touring partner) Josh Fleming, calibrators Rebekah Crisp, John R. Kofonow, Dan Seaman, and Suzy La Follette, and slammers Justin "Biscuit" Powell, Sharkey Marado, Cass Hodges, Aaron Johnson, (and my NORAZ Teammates:) Brent Heffron, Logan Phillips, and Eric Larson were amazing. I was honored to share that stage. Everyone I know, poetry-wise in Northern Arizona was there, in addition to my Mom and step-dad Bill, and my Phoenician best friends Michael 'KuK' KuKuruga, Nikki Kaufmann, Kevin Crawford and his wife Erin Crawford." 

"Oh, and I won the slam. By more than 4 1/2 points while everyone else was fighting for the 1/10ths of points between them. Whoopty-fucking-do."

Because what Lane and I wanted was a real head-to-head. But Lane clearly loved being a father to Oren:

In 2005, Lane made the grand slam. I took third, after Logan Phillips, but ahead of Meghan Jones and Aaron Johnson. Logan Phillips made a DVD:

The DVD

NORAZ Poets won the Arizona state championship at the 5th annual Arcosanti Slab City Slam

The Arizona State Championship title has returned to NORthern AriZona. The NORAZ Poets won the Arcosanti Slab City Slam on April 28, by 16.5 points.
"That's two touchdowns and a field goal," Christopher Lane, NORAZ Poets executive director and Team NORAZ member, said.
The fifth annual Arcosanti Slab City Slam featured 10 teams from all across the state. The NORAZ Poets included three teams of four poets each. Team NORAZ, Team Prescott, Team FlagSlam, faced off against Team Tucson, Team Arcosanti, The Loose Nuts, Hangover Express, a third Phoenix team, The X-Hosts, a team of slam hosts from the East Valley of Phoenix and Team NORAZ's cross-state arch-rivals Team Mesa Nationals, who has won the last four This year's Mesa team includes Brent Heffron a member of the 2004 Team NORAZ.
The championship team consisted of 4 of the 5 members of Team NORAZ:
Christopher Lane, of Sedona
Meghan Jones, of Flagstaff
Christopher Fox Graham, of Sedona, and
Logan Philips, of Flagstaff.

Team Prescott:
Eric Larson, of Prescott, and a member of 2004 Team NORAZ
Patrick David DuHaime, of Prescott
David Rogers "Doc" Luben, of Prescott, and
Greg Nix, of Flagstaff

Team FlagSlam:
Aaron Johnson, of Flastaff, the fifth member of Team NORAZ
Kimmy Wilgus of Flagstaff
Rhett Pepe, of Flagstaff
John R. Kofonow, Slam Master of Flagstaff

The tournament consisted of all 10 teams competing in two preliminary rounds.
Christopher Lane, kicking off the slam with "if this poem," starting in the middle of the crowd and moving to the microphone as he performed. At the end of the first round, Team Mesa was ahead by a slim margin. But Meghan Jones' poem, "Where's Your Microphone?," a plea to the women poets in the crowd to become slam poets started off the second round with Team NORAZ in the lead, and the margin of victory only increased. Christopher Fox Graham's "We Call Him Papa" and Logan Philips' "The Boy's Pockets" cemented their lead.
As round two rolled around, Team Mesa came in fierce in the first slot. Team FlagSlam was in the third slot, followed by Team Prescott, and Team NORAZ in the sixth slot. Logan Philips started off with "Worth of Words," followed by Meghan Jones' "Patches", Christopher Fox Graham's "Spinal Language" and closing out the last round of the bout with Christopher Lane's "poetry is still."
The final bout would be the top 4 teams: Team NORAZ, Team Prescott,, Team Tucson and Team Mesa Nationals.
The night's poetry feature was Luke Warm Water, an activist, poet, epidemiologist an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribe, born and raised in Rapid City, S.D. Author of John Wayne Shot Me, Luke Warm Water, has performed across the United States, England and Germany, in 120 venues within the last 4 years. He was preceded by 2005 NORAZ Poets semi-finalist Rowie Shebala, of the Navajo Nation.
Team NORAZ now had a comfortable lead of 12 points. The finals bout was a "feature" round for the team. Christopher Lane performed "for Jessica…". Christopher Fox Graham brought out perhaps the most anticipated poem of the night, "The Peach is a Damn Sexy Fruit." Meghan Jones, made the night a hot one with the sensual, sexy "Honey." The line "caramelize me," melted the audience in their seats. To top out the night, Logan Philips performed "La Viejita de Sonora."

In the end:

Team NORAZ 339.4
Team Mesa Nationals 322.9
Team Prescott 320.9
Team Tucson 315.6

The night ended with a bronze pour at the Arcosanti Bronze Foundry where the Arconauts created the 40-pound bronze trophy, followed by a fire performance by Flam Chen, and a huge after-party that rolled until dawn.

Note that NORAZ Poets, not just Team NORAZ won the tournament. Of the 40 poets who competed, 13 of them were NORAZ Poets. We are a community of poets, not just a team, and not individuals. The victory and the trophy represents our strength as a community, unified in our diversity.

The 16th National Poetry Slam was held in Albuquerque, N.M.:

Logan Phillips, John Kofonow, Christopher Fox Graham, Meghan Jones, Christopher Lane and Oren, and Aaron Johnson at the 16th National Poetry Slam in Albuquerque, N.M.

We were joined by a cadre of Flagstaff poets, including Rowie Shebala. I was made the temporary legal guardian of my 16-year-old friend Sarrah Wile for the week because she wanted to go and her parents trusted me and the other poets. As I spent a good portion of the nights buzzed or drunk, she babysat me more than I did her. I wrote it was then and still is "one of the best organized NPSes. All venues were within walking distance of the Hotel Blue. The hotel manager lost his job for what he allowed us to do, but won the Spirit of the Slam Award."

Chris Lane and Logan Phillips performing at the 2005 National Poetry Slam
We had a group poem that year too

THIS POEM IS A TEST OF THE EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM
Team NORAZ 2005. 22junio2005. Assembled by logan phillips. Version 5.

opening sales jargon, all poets overlapping
 
Lane:
you want a candle that will burn for twelve fuckin years? We got that too
lane starts ebs tone

CFG:
We got Abba Zabba, poets love that Abba Zabba
cfg joins tone

Meghan:
Wheel of Fortune is taped on sight in beautiful California,
where the women are cheap, the gas is expensive
but none of that matters
meghan joins tone

Logan:
Beautiful uptown Sedona, Arizona
and more turquoise kokopellis than you could shake a camera at
Just don’t forget to pay the fees to see the forest
can’t see the forest for the fees
logan joins tone

Aaron:
It’s called Poetry Slam, now brought to you by
American Spirit tobacco, reminding you that Indians smoked too
Poetry Slam, institutionalized revolution
aaron joins tone

five count, then tone quits abruptly
poets snap to attention


All:
We inturrupt this slam to bring you a test of the Emergency Broadcast System

CFG:
The poets of your area
 In voluntary cooperation with authorities 
Have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency.

CFG & Aaron:
Remember, this is only a test

Logan:
But this is an emergency

Lane:
The poets of this room are not acting in concert with authorities.

CFG & Meghan start tone again

Aaron:
The Emergency Broadcast System tone
echoes like a 

Aaron & Logan:
glass blast

tone abruptly ends on ‘blast’

Aaron:
and wedding rings clashing.
My father, pierced with pieces of beer bottle

Meghan begins singing (from tone)
Aaron:
A pin cushion in the middle of the floor:
A casualty of domestic violence,
Reflected in the wide eyes of my sister.
We ignore violence unless it is in our own home.
Dialing 911 won't erase these memories.

Aaron & Lane:
THIS IS THE EMERGENCY!
to officers, neighbors, and siblings
cling to these precious angels.

Lane & Aaron picks up tone from Meghan singing
Meghan stops singing

CFG echoes numbers while Meghan is speaking

Meghan:
Every 9 seconds, a woman is battered.
95% of domestic violence victims are women.
30% of adolescent relationships are abusive.
Half of all rape victims are between 14 and 17

Aaron joins tone

Logan:
nine one one
nine one one (repeats)

Aaron & Lane  fade out tone as CFG speaks

CFG:
we replaced names with numbers
prefixed people with dollar signs
grew entrepreneurial enterprises
into economic empires
now most of us
have never shaken hands with those we work for

CFG & Meghan:
our success is killing us

CFG:
still starving, it burst past borders
so no nation is safe from it now

CFG & Meghan:
this is how cancer kills

Logan:
This is the emergency: we cut arts funding in schools
and more children cut themselves down in schools
This lack of urgency is the emergency, 

Logan & Meghan:
my mother leaving third grade after teaching for 18 years

Logan:
to teach kindergarten 

Logan & Lane:
where there are no standardized tests

Logan & Aaron:
this poem is not a standardized test

Logan & Meghan:
this poem is not a third grader taking a test

All:
this is a test of the emergency broadcast system.

Lane:
this is a repeat transmission. echoes of poets past.
finding a wittier way to say, 

Lane & Aaron:
"america, go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.", 

Lane
again 

Logan
and again 

Lane
and again.
you media implanted switches. party people twitchin' 

Lane & Logan:
on the next 'right thing to do' just broad-branded voodoo.

Lane:
poets, our podcasts need refreshin'. turn them into dust, 
somethin' i can touch, compost and bury. 

Lane, Meghan, CFG:
results will vary 

Lane:
'cause a poet's death is in their words 
resurrectin' 

Lane & CFG:
10,000 more poets

Lane:
to retransmit an emergency 
that keeps emerging as if a new word could save us...again 

Logan:
and again 

Lane:
and again...

All, cascading:
Poets have answers for everything

melt down, all poets overlapping

Lane:
who's that on the radio? is the a/c on? turn it down. i can't hear, 'drop it like it's hhhoooottt, drop it like it's hhhooott'. 

Logan:
yeah i'll hold on. i can't hear you! poets are too fucking loud. is he speaking, i can't hear you. poets are too fuckin' soft. 

Aaron:
i'll have a #6, medium size with season fries and a large dr. pepper. mayo on that...do you hear me...mayo muthafucka! 

CFG:
yeah i said he said she said one minute 'til eBay auction closed! She said ‘I see you eyeing the grocery girls’ 

Meghan:
I mean what the fuck, America, when can I go to the grocery store and buy what I need with my good looks?

overlapping stops

Logan:
This poem is going to shit

Lane:
Poets sayin the same ol crap

Aaron:
Naw man, This poem is

All:
a test of the emergency broadcast system

Meghan:
Cardboard sapping the moisture from my palms.
The society has created a caste system.
Classes of the rich and barely getting by.

Meghan & Aaron:
Religious 

Meghan & Logan:
and agnostic.

Meghan & CFG:
white, 

Meghan & Lane:
black, 

Meghan & Aaron:
brown.

Meghan:
You're looking for an emergency?
How about the lack of common decency?
It IS a civil emergency that we can't be civil to one another.
When's the last time you fed someone else
when you could hardly eat yourself?

CFG:
underneath cotton and etiquette
behind cash registers and caution tape
we are hunters with memories of the 

CFG, Meghan, Logan:
Serengeti, 

CFG:
now in the 

CFG & Lane:
United States of Arithmetic

CFG:
how many friends would you die for?
All: I bet it's less than 

CFG & Meghan:
20

Aaron:
Naw, the emergency is
Domestic abuse 

Logan:
Naw, the emergency is
cutting funding in schools

CFG:
Naw, the emergency is
turning people into numbers

Meghan:
Naw, the emergency is
lack of decency

Lane:
I’ve heard this all before

Aaron starts tone

Lane:
This is the emergency

Logan joins tone

Lane:
everyone just trying to fix problems from behind a microphone

CFG & Meghan  join tone

Lane:
meanwhile, outside this room
beyond these walls it’s all really happening

tone ends

Lane:
The emergency is us in here while this poem is out there.
But don’t worry because this poem

All cascade ‘this poem’

Lane & Logan:
This poem is just a test

Aaron:
We now return you to your regularly scheduled slam

The end of NORAZ Poets Slam Team

Lane "retired" from slam in 2006 and didn't compete for the team. The team was a mess with a clash of egos, two members quit and Lane suspended the slam team and kicked me out of NORAZ. 

It was ugly, it was petty, there were five or seven of us ultimately who tore the team apart for stupid selfish reasons in a game of brinksmanship that ultimately meant nothing. I missed out on two National Poetry Slams in Austin, Texas. I can't get those experiences back. But I was 16 years younger and more foolish.

Some day, I'll apologize to Meghan Jones for what it's worth. Not for what was said or what we did to each other, which I'm certain we both feel was justified at the time, but for the damage we caused each other and our scene afterward.

We should have been better. I should have at least.

Rather than rehash that, or trying and spin it, I don't want to pretend I did write these things 10 years ago. I'll just quote raw from my blog: 

Thus began the Sedona Poetry Civil War, as one of our mutual friends called it in 2010. For the first year, I was "banned" from competing in NORAZ slams, but still went to a few in Flagstaff while avoiding those in my own town. I still co-ran a relatively popular open mic with Greg Nix at the Szechuan Martini Bar.

Greg Nix was the voice of reason for both of us, writing:

i have been bothered for months about what has been happening b/w two very good friends of mine.  attached is a poem i think you should read, and below is a rant as well.  i know of no other way to communicate my concern about this bullshit between the two of you than what follows.  -greg
fucks fucking sake.  that's what i say to both of you.  i love both of you.  i wouldn't be a friend to either one of you if i didn't make an attempt at helping two friends with heads up their asses make amends.
lane, its your organization.  i absolutely respect that.  i always will.  i don't put an organization down as one of my primary beneficiares out of a sense of, well, lemme think, hubris?  i think what you do to promote this art form as a participatory community function is amazing.  fox, you're a mother fucking poet.  end of discussion.  i've always been taken aback by your words and your talent and i always will.  you hold a position in this community that is respected and admired - else, you wouldn't be the person that you are.  end of discussion.
maybe to set it straight as to where "greg's coming from" - is this:  i work in a field that brings me in to intimate encounters with the shit (on the walls, literally) and the misery and the disgust of human life that the two of you dance around.  yup - that is exactly what i am saying.  dance around.  people are inherently flawed.  people fuck up and make mistakes.  the mistakes that the two of you make are nothing to the fuck ups and idiocy that i get to spend my working day dealing with.  i deal with people who fuck up so bad that they might end up killing a child.  either of you care to "whip it out" now? 
lane - you have created an organization that is bigger than yourself and you are continuing to learn how to manage that.  fox - you can be an arrogant, shit headed asshole.  actually - both of you are capable of this.  so am i - so is everyone else on this fucking planet.  lane has an organization he has created that, well, for better lack of terminology - feeds his kid.  fox - you're too fucking full of pride to sit down and admit that you behaved in a manner that was immature and arrogant.  both of you - take a bite of humble pie.  trust me - it doesn't taste all that great, but it is something we all have to do from time to time.  i have to do it quite often, so fuck both of you if you think are "too good to do so".  you're not. 
as for why i decided to write both of you this email - all i can say is that you are both my friends.  two of the best friends i have made in this world.  on par with the two friends i have from childhood.  i can't stand "watching from the sidelines" as you both endeavour to fuck it all up.  i can't stand to sit around and listen to two people "posturing" over fucking bullshit.  life is fucking short.  you both are two great individuals and it pisses me off when i see two people who are such decent, good, moral individuals fuck things up because of the simple matter of pride.
lane - you don't have a right to tell fox what to do. 
fox - you don't have the right to be an asshole to everyone. 
both of you are free to be pissed off and angry at me.  i put up with it for a living  - trust me, it doesn't bother me.  seeing the state of affairs that you two are in, does bother me.  please, sit down, and quit being angry and pissed of and hurt at each other.  be friends and be adults. 
i love both of you,
greg

 

On March 12, 2007, [Lane] called for a truce and we met in a neutral location at a restaurant [Reds at the Sedona Rouge] to discuss the terms. 

"monday was the meeting between myself and christopher fox graham. and i have to say that it went very well. 

as some of you may know, i attended a seminar over a month ago where i experienced the greatest love i have ever known. for sometime now i have needed to move to a greater level in my spirituality and this seminar did it. there i discovered that before any real healing takes place i had to get rid of the "stuff" that i owned, which really owned me. i mad a decision to come from a loving place in all of my interactions with people as much as possible, of course, i am only human.

with that, i also decided to come from a loving place in our meeting on monday. there i saw how sincere mr. graham is. i do believe now that mr. graham has good intentions in mind. there was much emotion exchanged. we expressed our feelings and came up with a way where mr. graham can be a part of NORAZ once again. attached you will find the new NORAZ Community Code of Conduct. we will have this for ALL of the poets that wish to perform in slam. please review. the Code of Conduct will be voted on as soon as we assemble our Slam Sub-Committee next week. if any of you have any concerns about the Code of Conduct please feel free to contact me or aaron johnson.

i came away from the meeting happy there was resolution. i feel confident in NORAZ's intention to make this community a more vibrant and expressive. i feel confident we as advisory board members will communicate to one another if any issues come up with anyone representing NORAZ Poets. but as all of us already know, professionalism is key.

again please review the Code of Conduct. if you have any questions about it please ask.

graham has assured me that if any issues come up for him in the future he will contact me directly. and i assured him i would do the same for him.



We negotiated a code of conduct for NORAZ, the terms of which he changed when he sent a final draft on March 27, 2007, adding in a whole series of rules about drug and alcohol use, which in a poetry scene or any civil setting were superfluous and unnecessary for a simple nonprofit. 
After all, I held a poetry open mic at a Sedona bar and banning minors from entering was the job of the bar and the bouncers, not Nix and myself.
At the same time, Nix and I were hosting the Sedona Poetry Open Mic, an event which Lane wanted to put the NORAZ Poets logo, but which Nix and I declined as long as the alcohol portion of the code of conduct was still in question. In any case the dialogue fell apart by mid-April.

Nix and I called our Sedona poetry open mic the Sedona 510 Poetry Slam because, well, Lane was 5'9" and we thought it was funny to say you had to be 5'10" to read.

In the meantime, Lane apparently rethought trying to control all poetry slam events in Sedona. In April 2007, he wrote this:


This was our last email about the NORAZ Code of Conduct

We had some rough back-and-forths in the late spring and summer of 2007 regarding some Flagstaff slams. He was flippant, I was unrelenting, we were both unkind. There's no point rehashing those as they were just rhetorical nastiness. I regret that period as it set the stage for why we never reconciled.



In November 2007, Lane made his departure from slam official:

first i want to thank everyone who has been part of my spiritual growth since i moved to sedona in august of 2000. since then i have achieved great things and it's been with the help of all of you. all of you showing up evening after blessed evening for slam poetry to experience the excitement, the drama, the catharsis. it was fun wasn't it?
so to most of you that truly know me will not be surprised to learn that i am letting the slam go at the canyon moon theatre. mary and i sat down and after her kind of listening only a dear friend could give decided to let our good memories of the slam ring in our minds. so how did this happen? how did christopher come to this conclusion?
after seeing the growth my wife experienced in her first year at the university of santa monica , i decided, "i didn't want to be left behind." so i too sought the place of her growth.
now we've traded positions. she's watching oren and i'm attending my first year of a two year masters program in spiritual psychology.
my priorities are spiritual growth, serving my family, and serving my community of friends.
i also came to the conclusion that "you can't transmit something that you haven't got." - wise words i've heard for years but never quite grasped. i feel one must focus in on the things that fill one's heart. so i choose the children and their ways of teaching me. and i choose the elders for the ways they teach me. everything in between is life.
and personally, the messages i hear in slam resonate a different frequency in me. i'm choosing to listen differently. my personal work and projects are important and quite honestly, i have neglected them for a long time. so i choose to have a new album coming out in the beginning of 2008 consisting of my poetry and music written and performed by my nephew, jonathan sherrill. and a couple zeppelin covers. ;)
now after seven years of living in sedona, i am changing again. and i love how i can tell all of you this because i hold each of you with great joy and "in the knowing."
although some of you may be bummed that the slam will not be at the canyon moon theatre anymore, i am proud to announce a new event combining poetry and music making a new class of spoken word come alive. on friday, january 25th Blues Dawgs (myself and joe neri and his band, blues dawgs) david mills and gary every (Mighty Minstrels) will give sedona something they've never experienced. i hope all of you will give it some serious thought and join us that evening. we promise to make it fun!!
so there you have it friends. i felt all of you should be informed. if you still crave the poetry slam, check out the one aaron johnson, our assistant director, hosts every wednesday evening at the applesauce tea house in flagstaff (213 So. San Francisco st.) he has a regional or national touring slam poet every week that will rock your world! plus i'm sure someone will start up a slam again in sedona sooner or later.
again, thank you. i hold all of you dear to my heart and hope to see or hear from you soon. the following is few other places you can catch what i'm up to, but if we run into each other around town, that's even better:


In May 2008, Rochelle Brener died. She owned a small business, Write Here, in the Bashas' plaza. It as an office space for writing workshops and some light retail. NORAZ Poets had a desk and computer in the back. I was one of the poets who read at her funeral; Lane did not. I had also left the Sedona Red Rock News to take a job at the Managing Editor of Kudos. Afterwards, he wrote:

i just wanted to to acknowledge you on your new position!! congratulations!! i heard your reading at rochelle's memorial was a smash! great work!

I never responded. I should have.


In 2007-2008, Aaron Johnson stepped down as FlagSlam Slam Master. NORAZ. The new FlagSlam had little to do with NORAZ afterward, and in late 2008, the FlagSlam poets asked me to feature. That marked the end of Lane's involvement with the adult slam as he turned to Brave New Voices, the youth slam teams, and one for which there was more grant money to be had to run the nonprofit. I made a point to fill the void for all ages slams in the Verde Valley, first hosting a team slam at the Old Town Center for the Arts in Cottonwood, then later starting the Sedona Poetry Slam in 2009.

I went to Canyon Moon Theatre and told the director, Mary Guaraldi, that I had been approached by Sedona Studio Live to start a poetry slam. With 10,000 people, Sedona can't handle more than one slam, so I gave Canyon Moon the right of first refusal. To her credit, Guaraldi said she was waiting for Lane to restart the slam, which he had ended in 2006 so she didn't want to commit. He was done hosting competitive poetry slams.


I started the Sedona Poetry Slam in 2009 and ran it at Sedona Studio Live until it closed in June 2013. Then I took the slam to the Sedona International Film Festival's Mary D. Fisher Theater, where we've been since then.

By 2009, the civil war had become a cold one; he didn't attend or support any of my events and I didn't attend or support any of his; the exception being one Sedona Poetry Slam featuring a former 2001 teammate, Josh Fleming, which he attended but did not speak to me.
I stylized the Sedona Poetry Slam to be what NORAZ Poets had began as, and opposite of what it evolved into. I wanted Sedona Poetry Slam to be open to all without regard to poets' personal lives, democratic, supportive both artistically and financially, and I set the ground rule that under no circumstances would I make any profit from poetry slams. All money from the slam returns to the poets via prize money, feature poets' pay, or team registration. In the intervening years, I heard stories from other poets and arts organizers about questionable financial and personal behavior; money or support for programs promised, then retracted, then promised again, then retracted or renegotiated, and various poets in Northern Arizona had falling outs over projects he supported then backed off from.
Lane also began to refer to himself as Ya'ir, a Hebrew word meaning "he who enlightens," and putting "Christopher" into quotes. Lane was raised Catholic, but had become a Buddhist by the time I met him in Sedona. He converted to Judaism before marrying his wife, but the name change was a bit much. I mean, we used to make fun of poets with stage names, going so far as suggesting he starting slamming under the stage name "Moniker" and I start slamming as "Pre-10-Shus" (pretentious). Toward the end, I suppose someone in the scene should have seen the decline, but his charisma just made him seem like he was getting more and more eccentric.


At some point in this process, when he was working with kids and the Alzheimer's poetry project, Lane decided to nix the "NORAZ Poets" name change the nonprofit to LARC or Literacy Arts for Rural Communities.

Lane and LARC did some good work with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, founded by Gary "Mex" Glazner, the official Minister of Fun for Poetry Slam Inc. who also created the first National Poetry Slam in 1990. 
The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project wrote a memorial for Lane on its website: We were deeply saddened to learn of Christopher's death in August of 2012. In the early stages of the APP Lane was the first person Glazner asked to help expand the APP to other states. He was an amazing advocate for poetry. On working with elders living with dementia Lane said, "I just see them as my Grand Ma and Grand Pa and hug them just like I would my own loved ones." He will be truly missed.
Lane was the director and founder of the Arizona chapter of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project, sponsored by Northern Arizona Poets, (NORAZ Poets) began in 2003, under Lane's direction and became an official 501(c)(3) organization in 2005.
Among Lane's awards include: the 2010 Bill Desmond Writing Award; Arizona Commission on the Arts, the 2009, Mayor's Arts Award; City of Sedona Individual Category, the 2009: Artist Project Grant; City of Sedona Arts and Culture Commission, the 2008, Gardens for Humanity; Visionary Grant and a 2006, Emerging Artist Grant; City of Sedona Arts and Culture Commission. He has been a featured reader at Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference at Arizona State University and the Tucson Poetry Festival. Lane was the author of "who is your god now?" published by Woodley & Watts. 

Lane had been in AA and NA since moving to Sedona. Without going too much into detail because I had to piece this together from about a dozen folks in the year after his death and someone of the specifics are unverifiable, what I know is at some point after waiting tables, he got a job as a sommelier at a Sedona resort. In the months (maybe longer, I have no idea) he began drinking a bit with a coworker of his I knew and told mutual friends he felt like he could handle his alcohol -- none of this I knew until after he died.
While at the newspaper, I found his name in a traffic stop for a potential DUI, which struck me as very odd considering I only knew him to be clean and sober, but trusting how reckless and resilient we artists are, just assumed he had briefly fallen off the wagon, was shocked back to sobriety by the traffic stop, and would the be the substance-free straight-edge poet we all knew. I heard he then left the sommelier job and began working at a local health food grocery store. A few times in that last year I would see him walking along State Route 89A as he lived right across the road. At some point nearing his 40th birthday, he went back to visit friends in Dallas. I don't know for certain if that's where he got the stuff he got or if it was local, but again, from my blog in 2012: 
On Aug. 19, 2012, at 7:05 a.m., Lane was pronounced dead at his home from benzodiazepine and narcotic intoxication, according to the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office. I received word from a mutual friend later that morning and got a copy of the autopsy in September. Reading an autopsy is a odd experience -- an antiseptic description of a person's body you once used to share conversation and meals.
I always expected that at some point, Lane would have apologized and our years of enmity would have come to an abrupt end. I'm not vindictive without cause and I'm quick to forgive when I believe in the sincerity of an apology. With his accidental overdose, we never had the luxury of repairing our friendship, but deep down I always thought it was inevitable.
The civil war -- a melodramatic title but one I like, being a poet -- did make me into a better organizer and public figure simply because I tried to be his opposite. In the end, knowing him longer than nearly anyone outside of his family, and seeing both his light side and dark side, I feel like I knew him better than most and I hope in the end, he respected me as only a rival could. Coming to terms with his death was difficult because few people understood what having a sincere arch-rival or arch-nemesis is like. One mutual friend asked if I felt like Superman, Batman, or Obi-wan Kenobi hearing Lex Luthor, the Joker or Anakin Skywalker had died, but another [Bernard "The Klute" Schober (Feb. 8, 1973-July 18, 2022)] said it was more like Iron Man and Captain America: we were rivals and didn't get along, but in the end, we were on the same side, promoting poetry and inspiring other poets to take the stage.

Lane's funeral Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012. Due to our history and unreconciled animosity, I could not and would not go. He was cremated and has no burial site to pay my respects. I never got that closure, which is why his absence still haunts me.

The one upside is that one of his students was Claire Pearson. A year after Lane's death, a mutual friend suggested we meet. We bonded over our shared loss as I helped her join the Flagstaff Poetry Slam scene. 


In the end, we poets are our words. We leave a children behind, but of ourselves, just our words. Here are some of Lane's:

Lizard Brain
By Christopher Lane
the smell of your absence makes a recoil.
deep retreat past a broken darkness.
it is the waiting for annihilation from the beyond i had forgotten.
thousands of cars have past my window tonight. each without your headlights and all of them continue in your direction,
away.
we were not going to talk about this were we?
you, a onesided silence. me, punching at my words i regret already.
either way, this moon less night will cut jagged pieces of us echoing into quiet places where the sky is full.
this poem is hard.
as granite, as my proud legacy of which i have been dethroned.
as sharp as the reasons i write.
as tragic as the sound of passing vehicles carrying the laughter of others who have come to terms and extinguish their rage, tumbling from a slightly cracked window that circulates a welcoming coolness.
those are the lucky ones.
those are the blessed, yet subjects of my envy.
for they may never write hard words like broken, away or jagged,
or never pray to be the one to die first.

Sycamore
By Christopher Lane
if we were friends,
shadow dancing in shallow alleys
if i confided in you what poetry i have left
if i ended this new fight to keep their claws from your skin
would you still forgive my hipocracies?
would you still give your names to our children?

Lane's "if this poem" was written in 2004, when we were just a year into the Iraq War. He and Akasha had gone to Indonesia along the Andaman Sea, prior to the December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed 170,000 people.

if this poem
By Christopher Lane
yes jesus loves me,

yes jesus loves me,

yes jesus loves me.

if you are hearing this poem you are fine. nothing is wrong with you. you are perfect.

if tree falls in the forest, if no one else, a poet will be there to catch it. gathering the gift of its leaves to write these words. again. sharpen its branches to make spears. to make arrows. to make war. again. to lift up another martyr to crash it down. again.

poets. move another. 

no longer should we be allowed to speak to another poet unless we have answered the questions, "what, where, who have you helped today?"  no longer can we use the metaphor of our blood in ink unless we bleed for another. no longer can we use paper for our words unless it is recycled. the reason is in my son's name.
his name is OREN.
it's hebrew. look it up.

if you are reading this poem you are fine. nothing is wrong with you. you are perfect.

right now a soldier, he is your brother, shakes too much. "this is not right sarge. too many. to catch. is that a baby or...what is she carrying? HALT!! IDENTIFY YOURSELF..I SAID HHHHHHHAAAAAA.......!!!"

right now a palestinian boy. 13 years full of rage. see's the red black green and a book of old poems as freedom. wears a vest of sunlight. waiting til allah tells him to shine.

if you want to support our troops, do not place a magnetic "yellow ribbon" on the vehicle that drove them to war. these are my brothers too do not insult them.

do not be scared if you are muslim. do not be scared if you are jewish. be concerned if you are christian. there's a right wing, fundamentalist, FREAK in charge and heÕs making you look very bad.

yes, i know jesus loves me...a book of old poems told me so.

if you are feeling this poem, if you are feeling anything you are fine. nothing is wrong with you. you are perfect.

my sister in law, she is the strongest person i know. struggles her with breaths and never complains and has a hard time keeping her head up and my brother, sometimes finds her slumped in her wheelchair, her permanent fixture. she knows only of time because it is the only thing that stays with and takes from her as it hears, sees, feels fit. 

mothers and all potentials. mothers like mine. like my wife, omnipotent love. play for your children your favorite songs. wake them, to your singing. pour your foundation with ani defranco then spiral your way up. fathers, you owe it to yourselves to listen close too, but it's mr. defranco to you.

affirm your children. touch their chest then the sky, 
you are hashem and sarhai. 
muhammad and allah.
you are yeshuah and adonai.

buddha. buddha. buddha.

but don't let a book of old poems tell you so.

tonight, i pray. the thai muslim boy, gift from the andaman sea. the one i fished with all day, who taught me how to make a net out of nothing, who learned how to skip sea shells, this was our trade. i pray he listened to the animals. ran away from the vibration. listened, watched and felt enough to live on. live life perfect. that he was caught in the arms of Allah's light. because tonight i'm trying to listen, to hear my own words...

...so one day...sssshhhh...

...when my son falls in the forest and he will...

...a poet will be there

to catch him.


This was my first poem about Lane (and other poets who we have lost):
 
Lumberjacking
By Christopher Fox Graham

lumberjacking is the world’s most dangerous profession
falling trees and limbs slay lumberjacks at a rate
30 times higher than average
breaking bones a dozen times daily

these arms are not built to fell trees
these hands not built to wield axes or chainsaws
I am no lumberjack
but I know the sound of a tree falling in a forest
we do not know how many died
to build this stage
to erect these room
to raise this roof

poetry is the world’s most dangerous art form
suicide and addiction and overdose slay poets
at a rate not measured by the Bureau of Statistics
because we do not list "poet" as a profession
no matter how deep is in our bones

but I am a poet

these arms were built to climb trees
these hands to wield pen and microphone
the sound of a poet falling in a forest
sounds so much like a tree
even the Earth can't tell the difference
we do not know how many died
to raise this roof
to erect these room
to build this stage

I know no dead lumberjacks
but if I were to inscribe the names of all the dead poets
this body would be inkwell:

one drowned in the heat of lonely city
swallowing pills to stay afloat

one who found refuge in a bottle
until his liver took his heart in the divorce

one who shotgunned the worst of him
across pages of the best of him

one with the Will of a Haymaker
now Basquiating himself
with a heroin needle
refusing to hear us say "stop"

one who swam into the river
never intending to reach the far shore

one who took us "Up"
but only if we said it with him

one whose rooftop heart
can only be seen from So-Hi

one who conquered oceans' depths
to swim with men in grey suits
but died in the desert

one who relived his golden age
overdosing on methadone

one who named his son Oren
and told us to look it up
wrote that one day his son would fall,
but a poet would there to catch him

and another poet

and another

and another

I know no lumberjacks
but I know they must weep like I do
whenever these names come flooding back

we do not build furniture or homes or monuments or empires
tangibility that can exist without the living
we only leave behind our words
which yellow and age over time
only existing if we read or speak them
but there are too many words now
and not enough time
and I'm beginning to forget
and there's no one here to help

lumberjacks take refuge in the woods
work beneath the leaves
take revenge on the limbs and trees
that slew their brothers
but we poets have nowhere to go
but back to these pages
to these microphones
to these slam stages
where we pour out our rage
it's why we're always shouting
a Dead Poets Society
is trapped in our throats

I'm not even supposed to be here
there's too much sin,
sloth
and pride
to be a Speaker of the Dead
to bear this burden of survivor
I am the Devil's bad luck
and the Grim Reaper's off days

I am tired of burying our dead
of toasting our fallen as conquering heroes
of retelling all the same old stories
to those old poets who can remember
before the needle drained
the pills slowed
the bullet shattered
the depression became too much to bear

I am tired of telling new young poets
about who came before
or how their newest stanza
can make me weep
because it sounds so much like someone
they can read but never meet
they don't need this added weight
while learning to fly
I am tired of telling still-living poets
with one foot in the graveyard
and one hand on a needle
that I don't deserve to outlive them

one poet named his son “Pine Tree” in Hebrew
wrote that one day he would fall
I am no lumberjack
but I will ready to catch him
because a poet said to

I can build nothing
but this
this is a promise I can keep

and my final poem about Lane:

Autopsy 394494
By Christopher Fox Graham

When the medical examiner offers,
decline the autopsy report

instead remember him
as a photograph,
a memory of frozen time
of some long, far-off roadtrip
when you got too drunk to navigate
feet
in the right
or left
order
and he carried you
shoulder to shoulder
back to the stranger’s sofa

but if you must
if curiosity or some sense of honoring the dead
sways to accept,

ignore the REPORTED CIRCUMSTANCES OF DEATH
you already know the date
seared into your skull
turning mind to tombstone epitaph

make note of the time
“found unresponsive”
always in military notation
“in his residence”
always approximate
“by his wife”
and you can count the minutes
“pronounced dead”
292 minutes exactly from discovery to notification

EXTERNAL EXAMINATION
does not describe the man,
no, he is internal
the external is the zippered bag
which carried him
394,494 is an even composite number composed of four prime numbers multiplied together:
2 × 3 × 37 × 1777
the mnemonic device is easy to compound
2: the number of his children
3: the number of his survivors
37: the age he was when you last spoke
1777: the Battle of Saratoga
because you were never certain if you were his Benedict Arnold
or he was yours

CLOTHING AND PERSONAL EFFECTS
are the inconsequential pajamas
multicolored, plaid
the kind he always wore
when you drank coffee
and his wife made breakfast
the wedding band
devolved from its sacraments
now just “a white metal ring”
divorced from its vows
“with black paint”
faithlessly cold
“on the left ring finger”
you remembered when he swore those vows
on the grassy lawn in Oak Creek Canyon
you kept the black kippah from the service
though you have never been to a Jewish wedding since

EVIDENCE OF MEDICAL INTERVENTION
will not express the failure in the hands of the paramedics
who knew him from the grocery store
or saw him in the newspaper
the paragraph only notes the remnants
of the attempt to stop this destination
defibrillator pads
clear!
on the lateral aspects of the torso
clear!
EKG pads on the deltoids
clear!
bilaterally on the medial aspects of each leg
there is no followup paragraph
describing how the firefighters told his sons he was gone
you will not find footnotes describing the wail of his wife
how the glass in the house reverberated

EVIDENCE OF INJURY notes the “¾ x ½ inch abrasion
over the lateral aspect of the left knee cap”
but will not state that it was from a last moment with his boys
playing in the yard
the injury will fail to describe this as
the last memory of them in sunlight

SCARS, TATTOOS AND OTHER IDENTIFYING BODY FEATURES
measure the weight of lines and cuts
ink and healed wounds
a 5 x 1/8 scar curvilinear scar on the posterior parietal portion of the scalp
was unhidden by his shaved head
the report omits the motorcycle accident
that caused the oblique scar
adjacent to the superior margin on the left clavicle
you will have to remember he always told that the same way
like a goddamn war story
how the bike went down on the asphalt
the drugs in his system
which kept him alive and unfazed
until the paramedics arrived
not like this time

the report will note the tattoo of what “may be a Chinese character”
on the upper right pectoral area
there will be no attempt to identify the language

ADDENDUM from the poets:
 It was Chinese
and we knew him 
by it
On the upper central portion of the back is a large bar code tattoo
there will be no attempt made to scan it
but he did it once for you at a bookstore
you will remember the code is for 
“Slams: Volume One Dallas-March 1999”
available for $15.99
his tracks are Nos. 7 and 18
“God, Stadium Seating and Little Girls” is a ballad to Texas
the self-aware irony one sees in small towns
“True Power” is a sin caught in the throat
all the words spit for naught
considering the manner of his death

but the examiner overlooked the bulldog tattoo
the guardian hound on his forearm
earned in the Texas National Guard
shared with his brothers in arms

ADDENDUM from the poets:
this is the one secret we still have
not notated in the public record
the mark we alone remember
that the county will not take from us
we who knew him 
will speak of it in whispers

do not add it to this report

it was not there for the state
leave it omitted
so we may know each other by it
when we weep

the GENERAL EXTERNAL EXAMINATION notes
well-developed
well-nourished
Caucasian male
compatible with the reported age of 40 years
body is 66 inches in length and weighs 128 pounds
there is no notation indicating the change from his birth certificate
facial hair: goatee
corneas opacified
irises blue
conjuctivae congested
the teeth and natural and in good condition
there is no mention of the words they once held
the trachea is in the midline
no comments made about the force of breath
per line or stanza
the fingernails are intact
there is no measure of the layers of ink that have been buried beneath them
no commentary in how the fingers worked a typewriter
the impression of keys in the fingerprints
the soles of the feet are not remarkable
the report says
but they are, remember
when you got too drunk to navigate
feet
and he carried you
shoulder to shoulder
back to the stranger’s sofa
the soles of the feet are goddamn saviors
and they kept you alive more than once

INTERNAL EXAMINATION
involves a Y-shaped incision
the examiner calculates a 340-gram heart
which, must be noted, is larger than average
but you knew this already
despite his 128 pounds
he had the heart of giant twice his size
now unbeating
it will be a dead weight in his chest that you cannot restart
no matter how much you want to

FINAL SUMMARY is a misnomer
it has no measure of the man
it only states the cause of death:
benzodiazepine and narcotic intoxication
it will make no commentary on his fatherhood
it will offer no final weight of his impact
it does not calculate the number of poems written
nor left unfinished
it will not say if he wanted to forgive you
for all the unkind words you spoke to each other
nor will say he wanted your forgiveness
so you could be brothers again

you will have no catharsis
no resolution to your civil war
you will remain incomplete,
unfinished,
unanswered,

now go

and live with that