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 423,000 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.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Flagstaff, Sedona, and the Resolution Slam

I work best under pressure. So, rather than work on the minimum six poems I needed for the slams over the last month, I squeezed four of them into the last week, and two into the last 20 hours before I needed to leave; staying up to 4:00AM the day before tweaking lines.

Procrastination is a religion.


It was in the shower the next morning that I had the brilliant idea to write a slam poem specifically aimed at arch-nemesis and über-rival Christopher “Death Monkey” Lane. Good Morning America was on television and I could hear political ads playing. I love mudslinging ads. I love slam poems directed in good humor at someone in the audience. I love Christopher Lane’s reaction to the stunts I pull. Voila, the Election Year Mudslinging. Genius.

Whenever I leave Phoenix, it’s like I’m busting out of prison. Seems fitting that one passes two prisons (a juvenile hall and a federal prison) just before losing sight of the city and heading into the “master planned” town of Anthem, a suburban prison (the Nazis had master planned communities too…).

Reached Sedona and master Lane. We ate at an Indian buffet, talked poetry and politics then headed down to the Write Here Writing Center, in the back of Sedona Books and Music. It was an excellent place to cool and chill. I met Rochelle Brener who will be interviewing me next week for an upcoming featurette in the Kudos newspaper that serves 18,000 readers in Sedona and the Verde Valley. Cool for me.

Lane and I haven’t faced off in a slam bout since the 2001 Flagstaff Slam Team, either in a practice bout or at the Slam Off itself. So the smack-talking between us started weeks ago. I even convinced my mom to send him an email with the gist of “Hi. My son is going to kick your ass tonight. Sincerely, Sylvia.” The fact that she did it proves she rocks and Lane’s reaction was hysterical. Imagine getting smack talk from someone’s mother.

After I got the details down, I squeezed out the gem of a poem "Election Year Mudslinging" in about 30 minutes. The piece almost wrote itself. What made it brilliant, in my mind, was that I planned to read the piece with the semi-accusatory voice we’re all used to on political ads. I had to duck out a few times to work on the sound I wanted for some parts without him overhearing.

We headed back to Lane’s, picked up his fiancée Akasha, and headed north for the bout. I was itching to bust out the new piece.

The old crew was there, everyone ready to slam. The über-amazing full-of-love Suzy La Follette, Dom Flemons much improved since I first saw him, Cass Hodges deep-down my secret favorite, Logan Phillips back from Mexico with a full beard, Brent Heffron in his first slam since last April.

The feature, Krystal Ashe, a former Slam Master in Chicago and now living in the Bay area, arrived a little late after driving seven hours. She came in to the packed house during the second performer of the open mic and Kofonow put her after the first round, with the house already geared up.

Everyone was on top of their game but I was only gunning for Christopher Lane. Suzy la Follette did a great piece about being made into an action figure toy, a lesbian with a strap-on. I’d buy one for all my friends. Lane’s first round piece was also brilliant, a humor piece toying with the idea that if men could get pregnant, we’d make it a sport. He went way over time and lost a good 4 points.

I pulled the wrong love poem for round one. I had meant to pull a new love poem "how once was", but instead grabbed "i smelled you on my skin today." it's a good poem, but i had read it in Sedona at the Butterball Slam in November and I wanted to do a new piece.

Round two was a little more perfect. Lane went toward the end, doing his "Can you spare some change" political poem. After a brief respite from Dom Flemons, i got my chance to bust out "Election Year Mudslinging." Pure genius in the rotation.

Best night's sleep I had in weeks.

The next morning, Lane and Akasha went to Flagstaff to see their midwife. I bounced up the same time and went to Snowbowl. It'd been months since I'd seen snow so i took the long road at full tilt and ran around in the snow. Such a boy.

I headed to Barnes and Noble. It's always uncomfortable to go, after all that drama with Lisa. Her engagement wasn't really a surprise and I doubt I'll see her again, but that fear is there. I always hope she'll be cordial, want to chat, maybe about her engagement, etc., but I'll never know. I bought "Worst Case Scenario Handbook: Parenting" for Lane and Akasha, Al Franken's "Lies, and the Lying Liars who tell them", and Chuck Palahnuik's "Lullaby."

I met this amazing poetess named Danielle (her stage name was Sandia), the very same night Lisa and broke up two years ago. She and I went on this amazing date at the Morning Glory Cafe. Live music, and then we all made sandwiches and got a little loaded. I walked her to her car and said goodbye, but i was too much of a wus to ask her out for a second date. So I stopped in to the Cafe, bought a hemp sandwich, and made small talk with the owner who remembered me. She is a little crazy, but intuitive. She suggested that i wasn't "big" enough then, but i am now.

I ate for lunch downtown and added special notes to the parenting handbook.

By chance, I caught up with Lane and Akasha at the Campus Coffee Bean, made a little chat, then met Brent Heffron at B&N. After a bit of the talky-talky, we started the night.

The first bar we hit has always been one of my Flagstaff favorites. San Felipe’s is a little preppy, a little posh, but i like the bright shiny colorful things.

And therein, amid the bright and shiny, was Eliena, über-amazing from the smile to the attitude. She is a dance student at NAU and moved her body like art. She walked like she was telling a story. Cute, sweet, took command of the conversation like she had written it before we got there. She also had the best story for how her mom named her; She-ra's best friend. Remember She-ra, Girls' reply to Boys' He-Man? That rocks. She's a heartbreaker.

We bounced to Uptown Billiards for round two. The bartender had my same birth date, even year, so she and i traded quips about our respective personalities. Too weird.

My ex Emily Lyons met up with Brent and I for a few games of pool, a few more drinks before we bounced back to San Felipe's for another round. Emily Lyons kept stealing my drink, claiming I had had too much (this will be important later).

The final stop for the night was the Monte Vista. Here, we did more of the drinky-drinky. I love the dark velvet lighting of the space. For Karaoke, Emily Lyons did, perhaps the worst rendition of Danny Boy I've heard. All in fun though.

Meanwhile, of all the people I thought I'd never see again, I ran into Emily Markel. She was shooting pool with her new beau, and we made the talky-talky, but I don't really remember much at that point.

We also hooked up with Emily Lyons's friends, a gay boy with glasses and a cute Asian girl whose names totally escape me. Swap stories, trade laughs. Might see more of them in the future.

The drive home was my personal highlight. Emily Lyons sat on Brent's lap, on the verge of queasy. But as she got out, she paused by the tree in her front yard and doubled over. It's so funny to be on the other side of the drunk curtain for once.

Slept on Brent's floor.

A foreign bathroom is always a unique experience. The water pressure, the temperature, it's all like being a kid again. Especially when hung over.

Nice drive home. Had plenty of time to clear my head. I am going to enjoy moving up to Sedona.

Lane was surprised to see me, on time and sober. The hiking party consisted of myself Lane, Akasha, and her 1-year-old niece Zowie, and crazy fun Carl, who is at least 60 if not older. We hiked Doe Mountain., west of Sedona. The five of us, marching in a line; two hunters, a pregnant woman, a baby, and wise, wacky, slightly crazy old man, felt very tribal.

Akasha took me and Zowie to meet with her younger sister, (and Zowie's mom), Hannah for lunch at Natural Foods. Afterwards, I met with Mary Guaraldi who worked with me on some of my pieces and my breathing (i get too tense in my shoulders and upper torso).

I reworked my new piece, "hit me running" and primed it for the slam.

I didn't expect them to show up (he had to work and I didn't think she'd make the 2hr drive alone), but my two best friends from Tempe, Michael "KuK" KuKuruga and Nikki Kaufman grabbed seats in the back. That made my day.

The Slam's feature was Krystal Ashe fresh from a show down in the Valley

The slam was slated for 12, but got pushed to 15 because of the way the newspaper invitation worded the event. Lane is tough with the rules and doesn’t play favorites, but the article seemed to indicate that anyone who signed before 6:30 could have a go. 15 it is, then. The first slammer was Logan Phillips from Flagstaff, followed by Tony Carito from Sedona. Not a big fan of Tony. He does improv performances, but has a fake ring to him and stands out as being way too pretentious. His work (i wouldn't call it poetry per se), doesn't have any honesty to it. Next was Corbet Dean, who after throwing a fit about Sedona and boycotting an event, felt okay coming up to compete this time around. Up next was Dom Flemons. As I've known him, I've become more and more appreciative of his work. He does enjoy performance. Following him were Eric Larson improving performer, but he needs to stop pacing back and forth), R. Scott, Robin Anderson slowly becoming one of my art heroes, Reese Lebard who should never be allowed on stage ever again, Brent Heffron slamming for the first time in a long while, Akua from Phoenix, Rebekah Crisp who is also improved a great deal since her first slam last year (and may be my new landlord), Autumn Garza (who may have been drunk), Sharky Marado a blue-collar slammer from Flagstaff slowly coming into her own. Pulling up the last was the unsinkable Bill Campana, then myself. For round one, I busted out "Election Year Mudslinging",, just to get me into round two. A went a little long, and though I scored a perfect 30, the time penalty dropped me to a 29.0.

The cuts were fierce, dropping out Tony Carito, R. Scott, Robin Anderson, Reese Lebard, Brent Heffron, and Autumn Garza.

For round two, I read another new poem "spinal language". Despite my hope that my third round poem would have the biggest impart, I got most of the compliments for this poem.

Cuts for round two were Dom Flemons, Sharky Marado, and Logan Phillips.

This left only 6 slammers, including Corbet Dean and Eric Larson. I was extremely pleased that Rebekah Crisp made the cut, proving that she is moving forward in her performance. Bill Campana performed "Rulebreaker". I had hoped that he would have performed a new piece, but only because I'm so familiar with it, and I think he's gone above and beyond with his more recent work. Bill scored a 29.9, as did I with "hit me running". Edging us out was Akua with a perfect 30.0. That left Bill and facing off with a haiku bout. I won the toss, and Bill's testicle haiku whooped mine (i think because I said "I will" instead of "i'll" and the judges counted 18 instead of 17 syllables. Akua didn't have a victory poem on hand, so she did an old favorite.

Every time I'm in Sedona, I fall more and more in love sweet, young Lyrica. I think i may marry her. Flirty-flirty, talky-talky.

Later, at the campfire, the night's survivors talked poetry, drank cheap beer, and faded out. Nikki, Lane, KuK and I endured longer than the others, and turned in around 4:00AM. The five of us (Akasha was already asleep) slept in their tiny trailer in Oak Creek Canyon. The next morning, KuK and Nikki left early, so Lane and I had breakfast at the Garland's store down the hill. We read over the surveys from the night before, made the talky-talky, then I took off for the valley, having decided to move to Sedona by mid-March.

1 comment:

Emily Markel said...

Hello again! My dear it's good to see that peotry still spills from your lips.
Love,
Emily Markel