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, August 24, 2016

"Lumberjacking is the World’s Most Dangerous Profession" 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 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 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






Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Sedona Poetry Slam hosts Individual World Poetry Slam qualifyer on Saturday, Aug. 20

Slam poets will assemble for the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, Aug. 20, to choose Sedona’s representative for the 2016 Individual World Poetry Slam. Poets are invited to compete at the first slam of the 2016-17 season, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. 

 Call Mary D. Fisher Theatre at 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org. Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam.


Individual World Poetry Slam

FlagSlam and Poetry Slam Inc. international nonprofit present the 2016 Individual World Poetry Slam, the four-day poetry slam festival from Wednesday to Saturday, Oct. 12 to 15, created by PSi giving poets the opportunity to compete outside of a team competition for the title of the Individual World Poetry Slam champion. The ninth annual event will bring world acclaimed feature performers, poetry and performance workshops, specialty slams, open mics and events for all ages to Flagstaff.
The contenders will hail from every major North American city including Phoenix, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Vancouver, Canada, as well as countries around the world such as Australia, France and Germany. Participants will compete in two days of preliminary competitions, culminating in a final clash of the top 12 on the final stage.
The festival will host a slew of side events and workshops, including the ever popular Nerd Slam, featuring poetry focused on comic books, fantasy, science, engineering, science fiction and anime, hosted by Phoenix poet Bernard “The Klute” Schober and featuring panelists like lightsaber-armed “Star Wars” nerd specialist Graham.

The slam will also pick the winning poet who will represent Sedona at the Arizona Poetry Society annual conference in November.



What is Poetry Slam?
Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. While many people may think of poetry as dull and laborious, a poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays. 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’s Young Voices Be Heard slam group.

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 who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. The prize money is funded in part by a donation from Verde Valley poetry supporters Jeanne and Jim Freeland.

Sedona Poetry Slam
 The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on nine FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-16. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

The slam is the first of the 2016-17 season, which will culminate in selection of Sedona’s sixth National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent the city and the Verde Valley at the National Poetry Slam in Denver in August.

The final Grand Poetry Slam takes place next spring to determine the team. The poets who make the team to represent Sedona will share the stage at the week-long National Poetry Slam with 350 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Sedona sent its five-poet 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., and the fifth to Decatur, Ga.

Founded in Chicago in 1984 by construction worker Marc Smith, poetry slam is a competitive artistic sport. 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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"She is Kissable Violet-Pink" by Christopher Fox Graham

She is kissable violet-pink
all radiant silver laugh lines
beneath upscale eyes offering underbrewed coffee
to a highway rat fresh off the road
nickel smiles traded for news stories and directions

she is a next-morning destination
an I’ll-be-back-again
a when-do-you-get-off?-too-forward-too-brash bitten tongue
till it bleeds crimson lotus blossoms

her thank-you handshake turns heart to whipped mint

if home was not five hours across the ripe peach Arizona desert
I would ask to make her my morning
until liver turned mild evergreen in decades hence
and ate me alive from the inside
her hips, my early morning sun
even under cloudy skies

I could swallow her until arching back scrapes the heavens
until she swears the sun
has changed to Niagara reef jade
until she forgot the language of ancestors
and this modern tongue
due to mine
swallowed the stars
and spoke something celestial
best translated as
“applause please”

"Near Telluride" by Christopher Fox Graham

Near Telluride
where blue edge sky
cut razor across the lucky clover forest
is the balcony sunset of the gods
whatever names you want to call them
my soft wine soul is too heavy with sins and sulfides
to ever reach their heavens
but if there is one
if must look something like this
when glittering sun
turns the morning lakes into skylight views
long ago they traded nectar for sweet tea
sit on Olympian porches with hound dogs
and talk about the good old days of Troy
the well-bred brown earth draws them here like a magnet
until sunset turns skies raspberry pink
and the begin to Alzheimer’s themselves into oblivion
and we forever lose their names to the mist

"Cross the velvet rope" by Christopher Fox Graham

Cross the velvet rope
and enter the bright black raspberry night
there’s not a cloud in sight
to interrupt views of statuesque night
golden cactus flowers send candy drop letters
to the green sprouts in the east
growing beneath the etched glass glow of cities
turned antique olive by the grime
when we extinct ourselves the sun will glow
bright again beneath our carcasses
and meadow flower yellow will rise
as skyscrapers fall

Friday, May 20, 2016

Arizona's top 12 compete to join Sedona's National Poetry Slam Team on May 28

On Saturday, May 28, the best poets in Arizona will compete in the 2016 Sedona Poetry Grand Slam, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. State Route 89A, Suite A-3. The event is the biggest poetry slam of the year because the winners will go on to the national competition. Poets competed at six slams over the last eight months, earning points through wins just to be able to compete on the Grand Slam stage.

The slam is the climax the 2016 season, when the audience will select the foursome and alternate to officially represent Sedona and the Verde Valley at the National Poetry Slam in Decatur, Ga., in August. Poets in the slam come from as far away as Phoenix and Flagstaff, competing against adult poets from Sedona, college poets from Northern Arizona University, and youth poets from Sedona Red Rock High School's Young Voices Be Heard slam group.

Sedona sent its first team to the 2012 National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., its second to the 2013 NPS in Boston and Cambridge, Mass., and its third and fourth to Oakland last two years.

The Sedona Poetry Grand Slam will be hosted by Sedona poet Christopher Fox Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on 10 FlagSlam National Poetry Slams between 2001 and 2016.Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

Some of the 12 top poets who will compete on June 6 include:

Josh Wiss

Josh Wiss is a 25-year-old poet who is bound to a lifestyle constant creativity. He attended his first poetry slam in fall 2010 and has been addicted to the art form ever since. A self-proclaimed “feeler,” Wiss lives life riding the oscillating waves of a water sign. He has dedicated his life to embracing the purity of existence and trying to transcribe experiences through a variety of expressive mediums. Whether he is plucking ukulele strings, painting vibrant panels or pouring poetry onto pages, Wiss attempts to completely envelop himself in each of his works.
His poetry is raw and often reflects an optimistic side of his personality. Obsessed with bold colors and blowing bubbles, a childlike energy inhabits his performances. Wiss has been to the National Poetry Slam on both the Sedona and Flagstaff teams in previous years.
 

Evan Dissinger

Evan Dissinger is 25 years old and currently living in West Sedona. He has been involved with slam poetry since 2008 and has been on three national teams; 2008 with FlagSlam and again in 2012 and 2015 as a member of team Sedona.
Dissinger lives with one cat and is often found hunched over a canvas or cruising on a skateboard when not at his restaurant day job.
Dissinger is an inquisitive Aquarius with a unique interpretation of the world around him. Dissinger caries a timid boldness that can be found reflected in his art.

The Klute aka Bernard Schober

Phoenix-area crackpot Jerome du Bois once said of The Klute: "You have one of the blackest hearts I've ever had the misfortune to glimpse," so in 2007, The Klute received an upgrade.
With the implantation of a freestyle bioprosthesis, The Klute now has "superior flow characteristics." His heart remains blacker than ever.
The Klute, part man, part machine, all of him sarcastic, is a fixture of the Arizona poetry scene, having been on five National Slam Poetry Teams from Mesa (2002-2003, 2005-2006, and 2010) and five from Phoenix (2008-2009, 2012-2014), and is the winningest slam poet in the state.
He has been published in anthologies by Write Bloody and Sergeant Press. He's a one-man psy-ops campaign bringing the system down from inside. He buys low and sells high. He keeps the Grim Reaper on speed dial and his absinthe on ice.

Rowie Shebala

Roanna "Rowie" Shebala, a Native American spoken word artist, of the Diné – Navajo – Tribe was born and raised on the Navajo Nation.
"Yá’át’ééh shik’éí dóó shidine’é
Shí éí Roanna Shebala yinishyé
Tsé Ńjíkiní nishłį́
Deeshchii’nii bashishchiin
Too'soni' dashicheii
Naasht’ézhí dashinalí"
Given the gift of storytelling from her father she combines story, poetry, and performance.
Shebala constantly brings the voice of her heritage into her performance, and written work often treading into spaces where hearing native voices is unlikely.
In doing so, she hopes to reframe what it means to be a Native person for the masses, point out the appropriation of her people's culture, and reclaim an identity that has perverted by heavily edited versions of history, the invisibilization of indigenous peoples today, and the use of those people as caricatures for mass amusement. Shebala represented Sedona at the Women of the World Poetry Slam last year and performed as a featured guest poet at New York City's Lincoln Center in August.

Valence

Tyler "Valence" Sirvinskas is a performance poet and new media artist based in Arizona.
Spoken word, performance art, electronic music, and visual art are all elements of Valence's artistic vision. In 2011, he began competing in poetry slams, and represented Flagstaff at the 2011 National Poetry Slam. In 2012, he won the Sedona Grand Slam, and in 2013 secured a spot on the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team.
Valence has lived in Arizona for the last decade, but was born in and spent his childhood in Chicago. Part of the last generation to know first-hand what life was like before the internet, Valence is grateful for anything that makes people silence their smartphones.
In the future, Valence has plans for touring, various projects, and a new style of performance art that combines spoken word with live video and music. At only 24 years of age, he's still somewhat green but definitely done screwing around.

Kaycee Pearson

A recent graduate of Sedona Red Rock High School, Kaycee Pearson is the younger sister of Claire Pearson, who has been on three Flagstaff National Poetry Slam teams, in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and represented Flagstaff at the Women of the World Poetry Slam. Kaycee Pearson is equally talented and recently had her poetry published in "Petrogyphs: Lucid Dreams," the annual SRRHS literary book. "It wouldn't be a Sedona Poetry Slam without a Pearson at the helm," Graham said.
 

Other poets may include Gary Every, Jess Ballantyne, Tara Aitken, Robert Chandler Gonzales, Taylor Marie, Kenny Kreslake, Diana Stoneberg and Lauren Perry.


FlagSlam team members will perform between rounds at the Sedona Poetry Grand Slam. Tickets are $12.

Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. While many people may think of poetry as dull and laborious, a poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays.

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 their audience with their creativity. The poets will be judged Olympics-style by five members of the audience selected at random at the beginning of the slam.

At Nationals, the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team will share the stage with 300 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe. While the highlight of the event in the competition, the week is filled with writing workshops, featured performances, themed readings and a handful of "underground" poetry competitions.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sedona Poetry Grand Slam




Grand Slam
Poet Total Points Rank order on  6/28/2016
Josh Wiss 17 1 12
Evan Dissinger 14 2 11
The Klute 9 3 10
Christopher Fox Graham 6 4
On FlagSlam
Ryan Smalley 5 5
On FlagSlam
Claire Pearson 5 6
On FlagSlam
Rowie Shebala 3 7 9
Valence 3 8 8
Gary Every 3 8 7
Josh Floyd 3 10 5
Jess Ballantyne 3 10 6
Tara Aitken 2 11 4
Gabbi Jue 1 12
On FlagSlam
Taylor Marie 1 12 3
Ali Daly 1 13 2
David 1 13 2
Diana Stoneberg 1 13 2
Kaycee Pearson 1 13 2
Kenny Kreslake 1 13 2
Kim Possible 1 13
On FlagSlam
Lauren Perry 1 13 2
Robert Chandler Gonzales 1 13 2

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

"This Heart is Just a Muscle" by Christopher Fox Graham

you point to it
and ask "what does it say?"

"nothing"

this heart is just a muscle
beats and blood
red meat
pumping
keeping this body moving
love does not live there

a ribcage prisoner
blind, it will never see the sun
never look upon you
deaf, it will never hear your name
no matter how closely you whisper it
handless, it will never jerk the steering wheel into a U-turn
back to you
it trusts the rest of me
moving symphonically
to avoid a billion red passengers
spilling onto the asphalt or the carpet
through an open wound

if it had desire
it would be for silence beyond a locked door
so it could work uninterrupted

if I'm lucky
it will count 4.4 billion beats
before gunshot or nuclear explosion or lightning bolt
halts the countdown to infinity

this heart is just a muscle
love does not live there
and you cannot change that
no matter how sweet your words slip out
no matter how your curves pull me to lock my hips with yours
and match your rhythms
this heart is just a muscle
love does not live there

but inside this skull
are a trillion neurons firing at random
holding the smell of my grandfather's wheatfields in August
the feel of baseball threads
a gaggle of palindromic primes
the echo of 50 lovers' names
dialects of this singular tongue

whatever this is
the contours of your body
the weight of your name in my ears
the taste of you still in my mouth
it floats somewhere in there
an elusive bolt electricity near lightspeed
billiard-balling the gray matter net
and what it says depends on the impact of ricochets and shockwaves
punching memories of you
into waking moments

if I could purge your infection with antibodies
I would have bled you out months ago

we were not built to hold each other this hard
but I'm unable to unhook you from the rest of me
our houses of cards are built on the day before
and time can’t moonwalk

we are broken machines
with imperfect parts
but if there is love anywhere
it is a frozen moment of you holding me

there is no antivirus to cut you loose
no hard reboot of these systems

I am a ribcage prisoner
of this unrelenting heart
it’s just a muscle
beating blood to all the parts of me
that can still measure the millimeters of your smile
hear you cry my name without consonants
remember how you would pin me down
so we would sleep chest to chest
barenaked in the afternoons
symphonically every muscle still aches your name
still yearns the echoes


this hermetic heart is just a muscle
and it says nothing
love does not live there 
it doesn't have to
the rest of me is so loud with you
I couldn't hear it anyway







2016 © Christopher Fox Graham

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Penultimate Sedona Poetry Slam takes place on Saturday, May 7


The Sedona Poetry Slam hosts the penultimate slam of the season on Saturday, May 7. Poets are invited to compete at the fifth slam of the 2015-16 season, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona.

Finales are great, but it's the penultimate event when pulses race, scores are settled and a path to total victory is decided.

"The Rains of Castamere", "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", "Half Measures", "Islanded in a Stream of Stars", "The Blue Comet", "Lux Æterna" (on the "Requiem for a Dream" soundtrack), the Final Four, the one and only Enterprise-class aircraft carrier, The War of the Roses' Battle of Bosworth Field ... all were penultimates, and a few brought kings to the grave.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. Tickets are $12. Call Mary D. Fisher Theatre at 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org. Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam.

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 who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive.

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’s Young Voices Be Heard slam group.

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

The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on nine FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-15. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

The slam is the last regular slam of the 2015-16 season, which will culminate in selection of Sedona’s fifth National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent the city and the Verde Valley at the National Poetry Slam in Decatur, Ga., in August. The first five poetry slams took place Oct. 10, Jan. 2, Feb. 6, March 12 and April 9.

The May 7 slam is the last one open to any competitor, and is the last chance poets have to earn a berth in the Grand Poetry Slam. The final Grand Poetry Slam takes place on May 28, to determine the team. The poets who make the team to represent Sedona will share the stage at the week-long National Poetry Slam with 350 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Sedona sent its five-poet 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.

Marc Smith ("So what?!"), founded poetry slam in Chicago in 1984

What is Poetry Slam?

Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. While many people may think of poetry as dull and laborious, a poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays. 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.

Founded in Chicago in 1984 by construction worker Marc Smith, poetry slam is a competitive artistic sport. 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.

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


Marc Kelly Smith performing "Kiss It."


Dan Sullivan, J.W. Basilo, Shelley Elaine G. Randall performing slam poetry in Hamburg, Germany in 2011.


Slam New Orleans team members Desiree Dallagiacamo and Justin Lamb performing "The Friend Zone"

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A brief history of the FlagSlam National Poetry Slam Team


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.



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

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.

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.

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


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

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)
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.

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. 
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)

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 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)


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.

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. 

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 Jarchow.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Canadian slam poet Mona Faith Mousa headlines the Sedona Poetry Slam on March 12 (CFG's birthday)

Mona Faith Mousa
Canadian slam poet Mona Faith Mousa headlines the Sedona Poetry Slam on March 12. Poets are invited to compete at the fourth slam of the 2015-16 season, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3 in West Sedona.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. Tickets are $12. Call Mary D. Fisher Theatre at 282-1177 or visit the Sedona International Film Festival website.

Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam.

Graham will also be celebrating his birthday on March 12, which he shares with writers Jack Kerouac, Dave Eggers, Carl Hiaasen, Naomi Shihab Nye and Gabriele D'Annunzio.

 

Mona Faith Mousa


Inspired by several Canadian and American slam poets, Mousa found herself in an addictive relationship with the written and spoken word. At 17 she hit the stage for the first time at Toronto’s well-known annual Open Minds Respect events. Nine year later Mousahas been on the road almost nonstop, having recently come off her 2015 Summer tour schedule to the southern United States, and Hawaii.

Mona Faith Mousa
Over the past 9 years Mousa’s mission has been to work to empower young adults engaging them in discussion. The mission is about promoting real love, love as an action that we commit to unconditionally. This love is about safe spaces no matter one's religion, social class, gender or sexual orientation. The mission is education & tolerance, no exceptions. It’s about a queer-positive and body-positive state of mind. The mission is mental health awareness, and letting people know that rescue is possible, that everyone's story is important . It’s helping turn scars into stories.
Mousa's charm and passion drive her and she is ready to take North America by storm, as one of Canada's most promising, up and coming performance poets.

Mona Faith Mousa
“[Mona Faith Mousa] has a maturity in her voice beyond her years,” wrote Will McGuirk, of Oshawa This Week, in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. “That is due to her openness to experience of a deeper order. Poetry arises from activity, sure, but more importantly from connectivity. Poems can be found in subdivisions, on courts, in driveways.

“One needs only the right equipment to catch them, equipment Mona has in ample amounts. She will show you where to look among the strip malls and the pylons. There are heroes in the suburbs.

“Mona is an awesome up-and-coming performance poet,” said Brendan McLeod, of The Fugitives, a spoken word troupe based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. “She's funny, charming, thoughtful and even a bit audacious. I heartily support her work as an emerging Canadian spoken word artist.”

 

What is Poetry Slam?


Host Christopher Fox Graham will also be celebrating
his birthday on Saturday,  March 12, which he shares
with writers Jack Kerouac, Dave Eggers, Carl Hiaasen,
Naomi Shihab Nye and Gabriele D'Annunzio.
Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. While many people may think of poetry as dull and laborious, a poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays. 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’s Young Voices Be Heard slam group.

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 who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. The prize money is funded in part by a donation from Verde Valley poetry supporters Jeanne and Jim Freeland.

The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on nine FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010, 2012-15. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

 

2015-16 Sedona Poetry Slam Schedule


The slam is the fourth of the 2015-16 season, which will culminate in selection of Sedona’s fifth National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent the city and the Verde Valley at the National Poetry Slam in Decatur, Ga., in August. The first three poetry slams took place Oct. 10, Jan. 2 and Feb. 6 slam. Future dates include:
  • Saturday, April 9, featuring Ryan Brown
  • Saturday, May 7
  • Saturday, May 28 Grand Slam
The final Grand Poetry Slam takes place on May 28, to determine the team. The poets who make the team on May 28 to represent Sedona will share the stage at the week-long National Poetry Slam with 350 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Sedona sent its five-poet 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.

Founded in Chicago in 1984 by construction worker Marc Smith, poetry slam is a competitive artistic sport. 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.