What is the obligation of artists?
First, to answer the voice within and interpret it into your expression, be it music, poetry, dance, pottery, drawing or photography.
Second, relate joy of the human experience to any and all who will listen or look. The goal is to instill in the audience of one or thousands the same feeling the artist had when they created the art.
Third, enrich one's tribe, community, nation and world though shared human expression.
When an artist loses sight of any one of these obligations, we, as artists, see a tragedy.
When an artist willingly denies these obligations in the name of self-interest or self-promotion, we, as artists, see arrogance.
When an artist, regardless of talent, would rather charge than create while still proclaiming allegiance to these obligations, we, as artists, see hypocrisy.
When an artist, especially one who leads other artists, would deny youth the talent imbued by the creator, or the muse, or simple genetics, we, as artists, see usurpation of that gift and should demand .
If a school contacts the leader of a supposed nonprofit arts community and asks for that artist and others to display that gift for youth, and is denied for insufficient funds, namely Southwestern Academy, NORAZ Poets and $800, then the leader of that organization betrays not himself, but also his talent and his personal obligation to represent those artists.
All artists are free to make money from their work, just as with any form of work. Art is labor-intensive, emotionally draining, and in some cases, even life-threatening. However, an artist's words are not all that threatened in the posh surroundings of the Verde Valley.
An it's not as though the aforementioned nonprofit has made a stand toward these three obligations, unless, of course, one were to read the organization's mission statement:
"The NORAZ Poets Southwest™ vision is to provide the community with clear and concise information about poetry events throughout the Southwest. We will empower others, by making poetry more accessible."
"We will help make our communities' quality of life better, by using poetry. We will help our communities to pursue their creative goals through program development, readings, and other performance mediums."
"But above all, we wish to give back to our communities what they have given us -- the inspiration and means to create the written and spoken word."
You betray poetry, Mr. Lane.
You betray your community, Mr. Lane.
You betray yourself.
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.