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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

“Secretariat” by Christopher Fox Graham, with thanks to Wayne Henry

“Secretariat”

by Christopher Fox Graham,
with thanks to Wayne Henry

my daughter has a big heart
as big as a horse
she was born that way
you can see it in the way she hugs
the way she waves to anyone
the way she sprints at full gallop
when she sees her mother or me at the end of a day
the way she says “bye bye”
bringing joy to strangers who may never see her again
they may not
because my daughter has a big heart
she was born that way

we knew we were going to love her
from the moment we knew we were pregnant
she was going to have a big heart
full of love
because we were full of love for her
we wanted nothing more than to have a daughter
half her mother, half me
we could raise in the way we were not
free of judgment
or useless tradition
a wild horse,
untamed and untamable

in the days before she was born
we found she had big heart
too big
we heard an unusual murmur
caught by the ultrasound
a hiccup of the heart
too big for her tiny chest
larger than it should be
anterior ventricular aneurysm
a bulge where the muscles of a valve
had not yet formed
not strong enough to beat her little heart on its own
and maybe would never

my wife could carry her to term but after that
the labor could rupture her heart
could tear it after birth
or it could gallop like a thoroughbred then

     … just stop …

for no reason and not beat again

six days in intensive care,
six hours in an MRI
we took her home
a probe attached to her chest we had to change daily
when we put her down to sleep
we were not sure if she would wake up
we checked on her hourly
to make sure she was still alive
still breathing,
her heart beating like the hooves of a Clydesdale

but this creature,
half me,
half her mother
was full of love
though she did not know the word
but she taught it to us
our hearts swelled to carry the burden hers could not

she has a big heart
as big as a horse
she was born that way
and she has survived
because she has a big heart like Secretariat
whose mighty heart
was three times the size of a normal horse

it should have killed him
all that passion and desire to win,
to race
to succeed,
pushing him down the track
around the curves

at the Kentucky Derby
each leg faster than the last
winning in under two minutes


at Preakness
where he started last and leaped ahead so famously
they made a statute of him doing it


at Belmont Stakes
where he won the Triple Crown by 31 lengths
the widest margin in racing history

he had a big heart
he was born that way
he did not stop and she will not
because she has a big heart
she was born that way

so if you meet her
and she waves, wave back
say bye when she leaves
because you may not see her again
and not because she's gone
but because she’s so far down the track
so far ahead of us
you cannot see her
just the dust she's left behind
get to know her now,
because I don't know where she's headed
but she'll arrive
long before the rest of us
because my daughter
she has a big heart
she was born that way





Thursday, February 13, 2020

"Hi, Moon," by Christopher Fox Graham

She says “hi, moon,”
like they are old friends.

With every day I spend with her
I wonder if they are

She knows where the moon is in the sky when I do not,
and I have been walking on this earth
compass in hand,
for 40 times her life

I rarely get lost

yet, she seems to know
where her old friend is
every time we see him

She says hi to the stars
reaches up like she can touch them

I want to explain to her
the distance
of light years

How the balls of fire we see in the sky
are millions of years older than us
And even in our fastest ship
We will never reach them in our lifetime

I want to explain these things her
but she's not old enough to understand the words

And I wonder

if she's right

Because, truthfully,
I do not know the length of a light year

I have read it in books
been told by wiser men and women than me

And I believe them

because that is what we must do
to survive this world:
believe those who study these things
so we can go about our day
living

So I wonder if she's right

If I reach out my hand and say “hi, star”
with the same enthusiasm that she does

Will I hear them speak back?

When they reach through the night sky
when no one else is looking
shake hands with me,
Touch my fingers to theirs?
Say,
“It has been some time since we've spoken.
How are you?
We are doing fine
up here in the night
watching you down there
learning to learn
learning how things grow
feeling how things feel
what gravity is
what knees are

I wonder
if she their ambassador to us
or just another traveler

right now, it doesn't matter
because she's waving hello to the moon again

and I can't prove it
but I swear I saw him wave back

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Rage Almighty, Jan. 1, 1983 - Oct. 13, 2019

Rage Almighty, aka Adam Tench
Jan. 1, 1983 - Oct. 13, 2019




Rage Almighty, aka Rage The Poet, was born Adam Tench on the first day of 1983 in Boston, Mass. Rage died Oct. 13, 2019, of a reported cardiac arrest at age 35.

Rage Almighty was a long-time figure in the Dallas and National Poetry Slam scene. He always had a kind word for those of us on the Flagstaff and Sedona National Poetry Slam teams. We mourn his loss.

By age 11, Rage Almighty had begun his acting career having had roles in several school plays. At age 13, in search of better opportunity and a better place for Rage and his sister to grow up, Rage’s family moved to Dallas, Texas, specifically the north side, or the “Nawfside” as the locals call it. It was here that Rage honed his writing skills and, with the influence of his older sister, focused his attention on poetry.


He quickly became know around school for his poetry, and it was around this time he picked up the name “Baby Rage.” The name was given to him by a high school anger management counselor, due to his disdain for and angst toward his surroundings.



“Almighty” was later added to his moniker just as “Baby” was dropped, spawned by his ever-growing confidence and talent as a poet. Rage Almighty eventually came across a fake ID, which allowed him to take his poetry from high school slam poetry events to various clubs and open mic nights across town. In the meantime, he continued to perform in numerous school plays and talent shows.


By the time he was actually old enough to get in many venues with his own ID, Rage Almighty had established his name on the local underground poetry scene. His clever rhyme scheme and versatility were what got him the attention.

From the harsh reality of some of his subject matter to the smooth swagger of his more sensual material, Rage Almighty had something for everyone. From poetry, he expanded into a rapper as well. “Don’t let the poetry fool you,” he’ll say, as his reputation became that of a fierce MC.

With influences including Nas, Outkast, Method Man and The Roots, and an arsenal diverse enough to contain club anthems, conscience lyrics and everything in between, Rage Almighty put himself in a position to be the next star to rise out of Dallas .

His music, the hybrid of rap, soul and spoken word which he has branded as “Cosmic Soul,” is built on his experiences from both Boston and Texas and with his own intelligent perspective, tells stories and interpretations of love, oppression, poverty and everyday life.


Rage Almighty was also a youth advocate and leads workshops focusing on emotional literacy and destigmatizing mental illness in communities of color: In 2016, the organization Louder Than a Bomb named him Teaching Artist of the Year.

Rage Almighty has received numerous honors and awards for his work on the slam circuit, including the 2017 Bayou City Poetry Slam Champion, the 2014 National Poetry Award for Best Spoken Word Album, and the 2014 North Texas Spoken Word Award for Poet of the Year. He was runner-up at the 2016 Individual World Poetry Slam Championships and the 2013 Dallas Grand Slam Champion, and he represented the United States at the World Cup Poetry Slam in Paris.

An opening act for musical artists such as T.I., Dead Prez, Chrisette Michele, and Brand Nubian as well as poets Saul Williams and Nikki Giovanni, he also appeared on season 4 of Lexus' "Verses and Flow."
 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Sedona Poetry Slam on Sept. 7 features The Klute, Bill Campana, Patrick Hare

The Sedona Poetry Slam returns for its 11th year bringing high-energy, competitive spoken word to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 7:30 p.m. The slam kicks off the 2019-2020 season with three featured slam poets who are among the best in Arizona’s history.

The Klute

The Klute, photo courtesy of Jessica Mason-Paull
Bernard “The Klute” Schober is the most recognizable voice from Arizona on poetry slam’s national stage. He grew up along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean on Palm Beach, Fla., where he cultivated a love of sharks to become an activist for shark preservation through the medium of spoken word. He has had the privilege of deep sea diving with those fantastic fish, from the Great White sharks of Isla Guadalupe, Mexico, to the reef sharks of Egypt’s Red Sea coast.

Klute has represented Sedona, Mesa and Phoenix and at the National Poetry Slam 10 times between 2002 and 2014 and has opened for spoken word superstars such as Saul Williams and Amber Tamblyn. He has been the featured performer in such legendary venues as Vancouver’s Cafe Deux Soliels and New York City’s Bowery Poetry Cafe.

His first spoken word CD “Reading the Obituaries Over My Dead Body” and his first book, “Klutopocrypha,” were released by Brick Cave Books. He published a book of shark-themed poems “Chumming the Waters” in 2016. His second book of shark poems “Cap’n Klute’s Ocean Almanac” is illustrated by Arizona artists Gary Bowers and Jan Marc Quisimbing and 100% of book sales go to shark conservation nonprofits.






Bill Campana

Bill Campana is a 1955 model who has outlived his warranty.  He has three books of poetry out with Brick Cave Media: “Said Beauty to the Blues,” “The Ragtime of Modern Living” and “flotsam and gomorrah (parlour tricks and other mysteries).”

He currently hosts the open mic portion of the Caffeine Corridor Poetry Series on Grand Avenue in Phoenix.

He has a high school diploma but has no idea where the hell it is.

Campana has competed with the Mesa National Poetry Slam Team multiple times on the national stage and is known as the loudest voice in poetry slam.



Patrick Hare

Patrick Hare, photo courtesy of David Tabor
Patrick Hare was a member of three Mesa National Poetry Slam Teams.

Hare was a pioneer in the field of poetic sarcasm before the age of snark.

Hare has hosted more than his fair share of poetry events and featured at nearly every venue in the Phoenix Valley.

The poetic trio will perform between the competitive rounds of the regular poetry slam.

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. 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.

All poets are welcome to compete 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.

Poets in the Sedona Poetry Slam 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.

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 Saturday, Sept. 7; Friday, Nov. 1; Saturday, Jan 25; Saturday, March 28; Saturday, April 25; and Saturday, May 23.

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

Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam early by Friday, Sept. 6, or arrive at the door by 7 p.m. Sept. 7 to sign up the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on 12 FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-18. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

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 Simmon’s Def Poets” on HBO.

For seven years, Sedona sent a four-poet team to National Poetry Slam, held in different cities around the United States every August. Sedona sent its first team to the 2012 NPS in Charlotte, N.C., its second to the 2013 NPS in Boston and Cambridge, Mass., and its third and fourth to Oakland, Calif., its fifth to Decatur, Ga., its sixth to Denver and its seventh to Chicago.

The Sedona National Poetry Slam Team, chosen in May, will represent the city at national events around the country in 2020.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

"A New Hand" by David 'Doc' Luben, of Portland (formerly of Prescott) at the Aug. 5, 2013 Vancouver Poetry Slam

"A New Hand" by David 'Doc' Luben, of Portland (formerly of Prescott) at the Aug. 5, 2013 Vancouver Poetry Slam

Saturday, July 20, 2019

On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photojournalist Tom Hood and I were invited by Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff to cover a speech by astronaut Neil Armstrong related to the unveiling of the first images recorded by the Discovery Channel Telescope on July 20, 2012, on the 43rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon.

The recording of Neil Armstrong's speech has some funny lines and beautiful imagery:
“Almost a half-century ago, some astronomers designed an experiment. The idea was deceptively simple: Compute the distance between the Earth and the moon based on the time it would take for a beam of light to travel up to a mirror located on the surface of the moon and to reflect it back to Earth.”
“I wasn’t one of the scientists on this project — I was sort of technician. My job in the experiment was to install the mirror."

“It may not be obvious why anyone would want to measure the distance to the Sea of Tranquility within 11 inches, but we had to have some way of confirming our mileage for our expense account.”
“The mirrors are expected to be busy for many years to come, which gives me enormous satisfaction as a technician on the project.” 

“From the Sea of Tranquility, the Earth hung above me 23 degrees west of the zenith, a turquoise pendant against a black velvet sky.”
“The home of the human species is not inherently restricted to Earth alone. The universe around us is our challenge and our destiny.”

“Thanks to everyone here for being a part in this civilization.”



Neil Armstrong on the moon
It turned out to be Armstrong's last public speech [and second-to-last interview; his last being with an Italian radio station] gave before his death on Aug. 25, 2012.

The video to which he referred at another speech in Australia in 2011:

Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong also left behind an American Flag, a plaque, an olive branch-shaped gold pin, messages from 73 world leaders, a patch from the Apollo 1 mission that, during a training exercise, combusted and killed three American astronauts, and medals in honor of two of the first Soviet astronauts who had died in flight.

Digitally remastered footage of the 1969 Apollo 11 moonwalk:


The video highlights of the three-hour moonwalk include a clearer picture of Neil Armstrong's descent down the stairs of the lunar module, which was taken from the Parkes Radio Observatory and the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station outside Canberra on 21 July 1969 (Australian time).
The long-forgotten video footage was uncovered during a decade-long search for the original recordings of the moonwalk, and involved lengthy detective work and clandestine meetings, says astronomer and telescope operator John Sarkissian from the CSIRO at Parkes, who headed up the search.
At the time of the Moon landing, three stations - Goldstone in California, Honeysuckle Creek in Canberra, and Parkes in New South Wales - simultaneously recorded the events onto magnetic data tape. The direct recordings were not of broadcast quality, says John, so they had to set up a regular TV camera pointed at a small black-and-white TV screen in the observatory to obtain higher-quality images that could be relayed to television stations around the world.
"Original signals weren't HD quality TV. They weren't even broadcast quality, even by 1969 standards," he says. "They were better than what was broadcast to the world; that's why we went looking for them ...".
Buzz Aldrin on the moon
The Goldstone camera settings to convert Neil's descent down the stairs were not correct and showed an image too dark to see. So the decision was made to switch to the Honeysuckle Creek footage, and after eight minutes, to the Parkes footage, which was used for the rest of the moonwalk.
It was this clearer footage, which had not been seen since 1969, that John and his search team were hoping to recover from the NASA archives, where the tapes had been sent.
Unfortunately, they hit a roadblock. "We discovered, to our horror, that in the 1970s and 80s NASA had taken the tapes in the national archive and erased them all to record other missions."
About 250,000 tapes from the Apollo era, likely including the 45 tapes of the moonwalk, are likely lost forever.
The Apollo 11 Plaque left on the lander on the moon
After some digging, they found that in the 1980s someone made a VHS tape of the Honeysuckle Creek magnetic tape, "a bootleg copy if you like, that was severely degraded," John says. A copy of that copy was given to an Apollo enthusiast who was tracked down to Sydney by the search team. This footage included a brighter and clearer version of Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong's descent to the lunar surface and was used to replace the darker Goldstone images at the start of the broadcast.
At the awards ceremony, select scenes from the entire restored video will show Neil's first step on the Moon's surface, Buzz Aldrin's decent of the lunar module ladder, the plaque reading and the raising of the U.S. flag.

Had the Apollo 11 mission failed, the White House had planned for President Richard Nixon to give this speech, which remained quietly in government archieves. The speech is heart-wrenching, even if it was never needed:

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, May 25

The Sedona Poetry Slam brings high-energy, competitive spoken word to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Saturday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m.

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. 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.

All poets are welcome to compete 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.

Poets in the Sedona Poetry Slam 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.

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 first slam of the spring was held Saturday April 27.

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

Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam early by Friday, May 24, or arrive at the door by 7 p.m. May 25 to sign up the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on 12 FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-18. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

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 Simmon's Def Poets" on HBO.

For the last seven years, Sedona sent a four-poet team to National Poetry Slam, held in different cities around the United States every August. Sedona sent its first team to the 2012 NPS in Charlotte, N.C., its second to the 2013 NPS in Boston and Cambridge, Mass., and its third and fourth to Oakland, Calif., its fifth to Decatur, Ga., its sixth to Denver and its seventh to Chicago.

Unfortunately, there will be no National Poetry Slam this year due fiscal insolvency of the parent nonprofit, Poetry Slam Inc., last fall. The Sedona poetry slam, however, is doing well as it heads into its 10th year of hosting poetry slams in the Verde Valley.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, April 27


The Sedona Poetry Slam brings high-energy, competitive spoken word to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Saturday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m.

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. 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.

All poets are welcome to compete 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.

Poets in the Sedona Poetry Slam 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.

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 second slam of the spring will be held Saturday May 25.

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

Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam early by Friday, April 26, or arrive at the door by 7 p.m. April 27 to sign up the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on 12 FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-18. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

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 Simmon's Def Poets" on HBO.

For the last seven years, Sedona sent a four-poet team to National Poetry Slam, held in different cities around the United States every August. Sedona sent its first team to the 2012 NPS in Charlotte, N.C., its second to the 2013 NPS in Boston and Cambridge, Mass., and its third and fourth to Oakland, Calif., its fifth to Decatur, Ga., its sixth to Denver and its seventh to Chicago.

Unfortunately, there will be no National Poetry Slam this year due fiscal insolvency of the parent nonprofit, Poetry Slam Inc., last fall. The Sedona poetry slam, however, is doing well as it heads into its 10th year of hosting poetry slams in the Verde Valley.

Friday, November 23, 2018

“Wedding Poem” by Claire Pearson, one of the four poets who performed at our wedding

“Wedding Poem”
by Claire Pearson

friends! family! honored guests! ne’er do wells and those here to settle any outstanding bets (it's me, i probably owe somebody money about all of this)!

welcome and rejoice!

for we are gathered here beneath the twin-trunked wedding tree because the inevitable march of time has been kind enough to deem it so, and there’s no other place i’d rather be than here with all of you

we are here for one reason and one reason alone, to celebrate the ritual union of the fairy queen and the eternal bachelor,

a mythic marriage foretold only in legend, daydream, fever dream, napkin poem, tarot cards, and coffee grounds etc etc until today!

today, we rejoice for the whiskey binge is purely ceremonial and there will be no witches showing up to curse the firstborn,
because we invited the whole town on the internet!!
and there is no sad crying allowed!
only happy tears, like if i came over there, bottled up your tear and froze them, they’d look super pretty under a microscope.

today we are gathered to witness the Grand Duet’s opening melody of the Magnum Opus between
she who first appeared in The Dream
wreathed in a cloud of coconut scented moonlight,
wearing a crown of piano keys and citrine
lucky lucky, how the arrow from your heartstring bow flies True, dear Archer

and he who could have grown an entire peach orchard with the amount of paper used as the backbone of thousand love poems used to prophecize this meeting,
who urged the water within him to rise to meet her

and thank goodness you rose to the occasion,
cause people like this don’t show up every blue moon
and you would have to be the Dumbest Man Alive not to recognize the pillar of light before you.

fact

so we are here to celebrate the realization of The Dream
where the love of your life loves you back and the up-close kind of ache that comes with the longing- dissipates, like a specter in the sunlight
joy is the only thing living in this heart anymore
there’s no more time to walk romance ghosts, may they move on in peace

newlyweds!
may you always have lunchbox love notes to line your pockets and never, ever forget them at work

may red chrysanthemums and white heather bloom in the peach pits of your dimples as an eternal twinkling blush, like you two are the only people on earth in on the juiciest secret
like “yeah, we’ve seen each other naked long enough to have a baby.
and that baby is gonna go on to save the world someday.
so yeah, you’re welcome, universe”

may the coffee be hot, the whiskey cold, the basil fresh, and there be enough rest for all three of you

and may you never forget that laura is so far out of your league that you aren’t even playing the same game. like, laura is playing professional soccer and you play wii tennis.
so like, remember that you’re too good for him and you are a shining gem of a woman.

so on behalf of all of us,
fox,
don’t mess this up

you both have touched upon something holy
carry it with you
always


Copyright 2018 © Claire Pearson

“Silly Love” by Ryan Smalley, one of the four poets who performed at our wedding

“Silly Love”by Ryan Smalley


I'm tired of a soft focus
Blissful white picket fence
Relationship
Love has been overdramatized
Life is too serious so now,

I'm looking for something silly
Where the only seductive glances
Are followed by chuckling dances
competitions to see who can
Fon  due each other with the
Cheesiest pickup lines
I'll say something like
Have you seen my tshirt?
It's made of boyfriend material
And you'll reply
Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?
All over the collective chorus
Of groans from the friends around us

I want to fall out of love with romance
All the soap operas
And telenovelas
Have left me cliffhanging
On to a different idea
Of happily ever after
Something longer than
Just a couple seasons

I want someone who will let me play
the damsel in distress
you can be my knight in shining armor
Save me from the pillow fort guarded by the firebreathing colonel breakfast
Our calico kitten

And when they ask, we'll both say that neither one wears the pants
It's all boxer briefs
And boyshorts
Sweatpants and old t-shirts
Or fuckin nothing at all

Everyone takes love so seriously
Meanwhile we're
Ruining any attempt at romance
By blowing raspberries
Into our French kisses

For halloween
You dress up as Han
And I'll don a bedsheet as your Leia
And I'll hit you with the line
I'm gonna hop down your
Garbage chute flyboy
End our night with
Candy flavored kisses
Snickers as we make love on all
The candy wrappers
Before we collapse
With sugar rush hangovers

They say all is fair in love and war
So when you fart under the sheets
So I'll wake up and make late morning breakfast we'll call it
you playing by the rules

Where the only fights we have are over who cheated at Mario Kart
[that was a bullshit banana move and you know it!]

I want to put the friend back in girlfriend boyfriend
Break all the rules of can't
In significant other
Why can't we be friends with the benefits
Of being deeply in love

Oh, we'll have a wedding
Only because our family expects us to
But our goal will be
Who can get the priest
More drunk at the end of the night
Conga lines
And chicken dances
Laughter and giggles
Echo throughout
Puppy dog eyes and
Half smile groans
Sunny blue skies
And early morning moans
Till death
Do us
Part


Copyright 2018 © Ryan Smalley

“The Wedding Ghost” by Frank O'Brien, one of the four poets who performed at our wedding

“The Wedding Ghost”
by Frank O'Brien


I love to love you
In the moment the universe was born.

I love loving you
At the end
The very end
When the stars melt
Into endless never nothingness,
In the great roaring, swoops of fires in the last days
And every day that dawns in between.

But this moment
Is my very favorite one.
I have watched it so many times
That I have become the ghost of this place.
I have been standing here
Since before it was “here”
Waiting
Waiting to witness
Again
And again
The linchpin through the axle and
The wheel of our time.
I see you
(You are forever)
Raise a palm made of ticking hands and gears and galaxies
Press it, fingers flat,
To the hand of my forever
(Lace into me)
You say
“Yes.
I do.
I do want all of this—
To thread you into me so completely
That suddenly our faces appear together
Everywhere in history
Hidden in the shadows of
Every single black and white photograph
The world has ever flashed
There
Two spirits
Shaped like children
Holding hands and staring down the vastness
Smiling into the great overwhelm in the night sky
Two spirits in a swirling tangled human dance
Feet falling in rhythms of struggle and joy
And sweet melodies of creation—
A fast forward film flicker of memory
The tale rushing past like blood coursing fiercely
Through bodies so alive…”

I loved you with my blood

I loved you with my bones

With my every defiant breath

I love you with my ghost


I will forever come back to this moment
To the day we were married
And haunt it with an eternity of love for you.
It will be so real,
The wedding guests will turn their heads
And swear they felt something
When I pass by.


Copyright © Frank O'Brien

Friday, October 19, 2018

Aaron Norris (1969-2018)



Aaron Norris (1969-2018) was one of the poets in FlagSlam's inaugural year, and competed at the first FlagSlam Poetry Grand Slam in 2001. He died last week from a heroin overdose.

Poeta vade loquere ad mortuos.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Predict when our daughter will be born

Our pediatricians say our daughter's due date is Saturday, June 9. Laura has had a smooth pregnancy with no complications. This will be our first child.
On what date do you predict our daughter, Athena Zelda Nebula Skye Sylvia Diana Fox Graham, will actually be born?


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sedona hosts Last Chance Poetry Slam on Saturday, May 26


The Sedona Poetry Slam bring high-energy, competition spoken word to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre for the "Last Chance Slam" on Saturday, May 26, at 7:30 p.m.

The Last Chance Slam on May 26 is be the final opportunity for poets who want to qualify for the 2018 Grand Slam. 

All poets are welcome to compete 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.

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. 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.

Poets in the Sedona Poetry Slam 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.

The first six slams of the season were held Nov. 4, Dec. 16, Dec. 30, Feb. 3, April 7 and May 5, won by Lauren Perry, M.C. Tristan Marshall, Bernard "The Klute" Schober, Josh Wiss and Kim Jarchow and Ryan Smalley, respectively. The final open slam of the season will be at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona, on Saturday May 26.

The Klute won the Dec. 30 Sedona Poetry Slam
Tickets are $12. For tickets, call 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org

The 2017-18 season will culminate in selection of Sedona's seventh National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent Sedona and the Verde Valley at the National Poetry Slam in Chicago in August. 

With every regular slam, poets earn points toward a slot in the Grand Slam, on Saturday, June 9. The poets who make the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team at the final contest will represent Sedona and share the stage with 350 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe at the week-long National Poetry Slam in Chicago in August.

Sedona sent its first team to the 2012 NPS in Charlotte, N.C., its second to the 2013 NPS in Boston and Cambridge, Mass., and its third and fourth to Oakland, Calif., its fifth to Decatur, Ga., and its sixth to Denver. For more information, visit foxthepoet.blogspot.com.

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

Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam early by Friday, May 25, or arrive at the door by 7 p.m. to sign up the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on 10 FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-17. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

What is Poetry Slam?
Founded at the Green Mill Tavern in Chicago in 1984, 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 2010 Winter Olympics, performed at the White House and at the United Nations General Assembly and were featured on "Russell Simmon's Def Poets" on HBO.

For more information, visit poetryslam.com or the PSi channel on YouTube.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Sedona Poetry Slam hosts slam Saturday, May 5

The Sedona Poetry Slam bring high-energy, competition spoken word to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Saturday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m.

All poets are welcome to compete 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.

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. 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.

Poets in the Sedona Poetry Slam 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.

Kim Jarchow won the Sedona Poetry Slam on April 7
The first five slams of the season were held Nov. 4, Dec. 16, Dec. 30, Feb. 3 and April 7, won by Lauren Perry, M.C. Tristan Marshall, Bernard "The Klute" Schober, Josh Wiss amd Kim Jarchow, respectively. The final open slam of the season will be at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona, on Saturday May 26.

Tickets are $12. For tickets, call 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org.

The 2017-18 season will culminate in selection of Sedona’s seventh National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent Sedona and the Verde Valley at the National Poetry Slam in Chicago in August.

The Last Chance Slam on May 26 will be the final opportunity for poets who want to qualify for the 2018 Grand Slam. With every regular slam, poets earn points toward a slot in the Grand Slam, on Saturday, June 9. The poets who make the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team at the final contest will represent Sedona and share the stage with 350 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe at the week-long National Poetry Slam in Chicago in August.

Sedona sent its first team to the 2012 NPS in Charlotte, N.C., its second to the 2013 NPS in Boston and Cambridge, Mass., and its third and fourth to Oakland, Calif., its fifth to Decatur, Ga., and its sixth to Denver. For more information, visit foxthepoet.blogspot.com.

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

Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam early by Friday, May 4, or arrive at the door by 7 p.m. to sign up the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on 10 FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-17. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

What is Poetry Slam?
Founded at the Green Mill Tavern in Chicago in 1984, 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 2010 Winter Olympics, performed at the White House and at the United Nations General Assembly and were featured on "Russell Simmon's Def Poets" on HBO.

For more information, visit poetryslam.com or the PSi channel on YouTube.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Mary D. Fisher Theater hosts Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, April 7

The Sedona Poetry Slam bring high-energy, competition spoken word to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Saturday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m.

All poets are welcome to compete 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.

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists.

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.

Poets in the Sedona Poetry Slam 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.

The first four slams of the season were held Nov. 4, Dec. 16, Dec. 30 and Feb. 3, won by Lauren Perry, M.C. Tristan Marshall, Bernard "The Klute" Schober and Josh Wiss, respectively. The next two slams will be at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona, on Saturdays May 5 and May 26.

Bernard "The Klute" Schober reads his victory poem after winning the third 
Sedona Poetry Slam of the 2017-18 season on Dec. 30 at the Mary D. Fisher 
Theatre. The next Sedona Poetry Slam takes place Saturday, April, at 
7:30 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre.
Tickets are $12. For tickets, call 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org

The 2017-18 season will culminate in selection of Sedona's seventh National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent Sedona and the Verde Valley at the National Poetry Slam in Chicago in August.

The Last Chance Slam on May 26 will be the final opportunity for poets who want to qualify for the 2018 Grand Slam. With every regular slam, poets earn points toward a slot in the Grand Slam, on Saturday, June 9.

The poets who make the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team at the final contest will represent Sedona and share the stage with 350 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe at the week-long National Poetry Slam in Chicago in August.

Lauren Perry won the first Sedona Poetry Slam of the 2017-18 season 
on Nov. 4 at the Sedona Arts Center. The next Sedona Poetry Slam 
takes place Saturday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher 
Theatre.
Sedona sent its first team to the 2012 NPS in Charlotte, N.C., its second to the 2013 NPS in Boston and Cambridge, Mass., and its third and fourth to Oakland, Calif., its fifth to Decatur, Ga., and its sixth to Denver. For more information, visit foxthepoet.blogspot.com.

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

Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam early by Friday, April 6, or arrive at the door by 7 p.m. to sign up the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive.

The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on 10 FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-17. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

What is Poetry Slam?

Founded at the Green Mill Tavern in Chicago in 1984, 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 2010 Winter Olympics, performed at the White House and at the United Nations General Assembly and were featured on "Russell Simmon's Def Poets" on HBO.

For more information, visit poetryslam.com or the PSi channel on YouTube.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

"No Irish need apply," a whiskey poem about America for St. Patrick's Day



No Irish need apply
We say goodbye
make our mothers cry
Break hearts for the dream
and no Irish need apply

Who built the bridge's mate
And scrapped the city sky
And bled with your sons
And so
The blend be gone
when I wed your lovely daughter
maybe you shouldn't ought of
But you gave her away
To be with me

Now
What do you think
you gonna buy me a drink
Aye
with these hands
and this heart
I touch you and we never stand apart

"E pluribus bleedin' unum"
have you got it
do you know what that means
It means blend
Blend is the backbone of this place
Look around ya
every generations got a different face
some very different
some pretty like me
everyone's gorgeous if you open your eyes to see
we were all them once
now were just us
just U.S.
ask your old granny if you need more proof
now take a look in the mirror
and you'll see the truth

The blend
I am Blend
And so are you
And you
And you
And that other fella too

We are all blend
From the beginning
To the end
So glasses up
And I'll say aye
to the beauty of blend?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Christopher Fox Graham proposes to Laura Ann Lynn at the Flagstaff Poetry Slam on Feb. 7, 2018


All thanks to Andrew Ibrado for the footage!
And thanks for the well wishes from Kenneth Kreslake, Ian Keirsey, Taylor Hayes, Teresa Newkirk, Bernard "The Klute" Schober, Tyler "Valence" Sirvinskas, Ryan Smalley, Nicolas Perez, Briana Grace Hammerstrom, Kimberly "Possible" Jarchow, Gabbi Jue, Vincent Vega, Taja Carina, Claire Pearson, Jessica Renee Ballantyne and Jeanne Freeland

Performing "Our Death is in Your Belly"

The kiss after the poem

The proposal from the five judges, read by host Briana Grace Hammerstrom

With the ring on bended knee

The kiss

Laura Ann Lynn says "yes"
(see, I have video proof)

The kiss after the "yes"

The crowd wildly applauding

Putting on the ring

We're engaged!
Well-wishes from our friends:
Kenny Kreslake
Ian Keirsey
Taylor Hayes
Kenny Kreslake
Teresa Newkirk
The Klute
Valence
Ryan Smalley
Nicolas Perez
Briana Grace Hammerstrom
Kim Possible
Gabbi Jue
Vincent Vega
Taja Carina
Claire Pearson
Briana Grace Hammerstrom
Gabbi Jue
Jessica Renee Ballentyne
Jeanne Freeland
Our last kiss in the video