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.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Poetry open mic returns to Sedona

Spoken word and performance poetry returns to Sedona with the Sedona Poetry Open Mic, from 8 to 10 p.m., on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. The event kicks off on Tuesday, April 3.
The open mic takes place on the at the Old Marketplace stage, 1370 W. Hwy. 89A, West Sedona, between The Martini Bar and Ravenheart Coffee, both of which will supply coffee and alcoholic for the audience.
The open mic is open to all types of spoken word artists, from page poets, slam poets, spoken word artists, performance artists, storytellers and comedians.
The open mic is co-hosted by Greg Nix and Christopher Fox Graham, both of Sedona.
Originally from Atlanta and a veteran of the Flagstaff poetry scene, Nix is a performance poet and writer whose use of satire, sarcasm, irony and humor interplay with his political sensibilities and social commentary with a Southern sense of sincerity, according to a press release.
Graham is a slam poet whose work blends romantic longing, confessional honesty and personal introspection with a touch of Arizona humor, according to the release.
A veteran of the metro Phoenix and Flagstaff slam scenes, Graham has represented Northern Arizona as a member of four National Poetry Slam teams, won the 2004 NORAZ Grand Slam and the 2005 Arizona All-Star Slam.
The Martini Bar, Ravenheart Coffee New Frontiers Natural Marketplace will offer gift certificates for the best poets, as chosen by the audience.
The event is sponsored by the GumptionFest Artistic Support Foundation, a coalition of artists dedicated to supporting the arts in the Verde Valley.
For more information, call The Martini Bar at 282-9288, Graham at 1-520-921-0075 or visit www.gumptionfest.com

On April 20, 1999, during the Kosovo war, Kosovar Albanian poet Flora Brovina was abducted by eight masked Serb paramilitaries. On 9 Dec. 9, 1999, in a show trial, she was accused of 'terrorist activities' under Article 136 of the Yugoslav Penal Code. She spent a year and a half in Serb prisons before being released as a result of international pressure.

Irina Ratushinskaya, ???´?? ??????´?????, was arrested in 1979 and charged with anti-Soviet agitation for "the dissemination of slanderous documentation in poetic form." She was released on the eve of the summit in Reykjavík, Iceland, between President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in October 1986.

John O'Leary (1830 - 1907) was an Irish poet and Fenian (patriot in the Irish republican movement). In 1865, O'Leary was arrested in England, and tried on charges of conspiracy. He was sentenced to twenty years' penal servitude, of which nine years were spent in English prisons prior to his exile to Paris in 1874.

In 1990, the Burmese military junta charged Myo Myint Nyein, editor of Pay Phu Hlwar magazine and poet, with "organizing youths and students to create instability" through articles in the publication. While in prison, Myo Myint Nyein and other incarcerated colleagues clandestinely formed the "Press Freedom Movement". Because of his involvement in the "Press Freedom Movement", Myo Myint Nyein was sentenced to an additional seven years of hard labor.

Armando Valladares was a political prisoner and prisoner of conscience in Cuba. Valladares was jailed in 1960, at age 23, when the new regime under Fidel Castro began to crack down on dissidents. Valladares's refusal to participate in any political rehabilitation programs elicited a response from the government - 46 days without food. His weakened muscles relegated him to a wheelchair for 5 years. Valladares spent 22 years in prison before being released in 1982 and moving to the United States. President Ronald Reagan appointed Valladares to serve as the US ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. As head of the US delegation, he successfully brought Cuba before the commission for its human rights violations. Reagan would later confer on him the nation's highest civil honor, the Presidential Citizens Medal. Statistics from the BBC.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5081360.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2293991.stm

Poetry open mic returns to Sedona

Spoken word and performance poetry returns to Sedona with the Sedona Poetry Open Mic, from 8 to 10 p.m., on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. The event kicks off on Tuesday, April 3.
The open mic takes place on the at the Old Marketplace stage, 1370 W. Hwy. 89A, West Sedona, between The Martini Bar and Ravenheart Coffee, both of which will supply coffee and alcoholic for the audience.
The open mic is open to all types of spoken word artists, from page poets, slam poets, spoken word artists, performance artists, storytellers and comedians.
The open mic is co-hosted by Greg Nix and Christopher Fox Graham, both of Sedona.
Originally from Atlanta and a veteran of the Flagstaff poetry scene, Nix is a performance poet and writer whose use of satire, sarcasm, irony and humor interplay with his political sensibilities and social commentary with a Southern sense of sincerity, according to a press release.
Graham is a slam poet whose work blends romantic longing, confessional honesty and personal introspection with a touch of Arizona humor, according to the release.
A veteran of the metro Phoenix and Flagstaff slam scenes, Graham has represented Northern Arizona as a member of four National Poetry Slam teams, won the 2004 NORAZ Grand Slam and the 2005 Arizona All-Star Slam.
The Martini Bar, Ravenheart Coffee New Frontiers Natural Marketplace will offer gift certificates for the best poets, as chosen by the audience.
The event is sponsored by the GumptionFest Artistic Support Foundation, a coalition of artists dedicated to supporting the arts in the Verde Valley.
For more information, call The Martini Bar at 282-9288, Graham at 1-520-921-0075 or visit www.gumptionfest.com

On April 20, 1999, during the Kosovo war, Kosovar Albanian poet Flora Brovina was abducted by eight masked Serb paramilitaries. On 9 Dec. 9, 1999, in a show trial, she was accused of 'terrorist activities' under Article 136 of the Yugoslav Penal Code. She spent a year and a half in Serb prisons before being released as a result of international pressure.

Irina Ratushinskaya (Ири́на Ратуши́нская), born 1954, was arrested in 1979 and charged with anti-Soviet agitation for "the dissemination of slanderous documentation in poetic form." She was released on the eve of the summit in Reykjavík, Iceland, between President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in October 1986.

John O'Leary (1830 - 1907) was an Irish poet and Fenian (patriot in the Irish republican movement). In 1865, O'Leary was arrested in England, and tried on charges of conspiracy. He was sentenced to twenty years' penal servitude, of which nine years were spent in English prisons prior to his exile to Paris in 1874.

In 1990, the Burmese military junta charged Myo Myint Nyein, editor of Pay Phu Hlwar magazine and poet, with "organizing youths and students to create instability" through articles in the publication. While in prison, Myo Myint Nyein and other incarcerated colleagues clandestinely formed the "Press Freedom Movement". Because of his involvement in the "Press Freedom Movement", Myo Myint Nyein was sentenced to an additional seven years of hard labor.

Armando Valladares was a political prisoner and prisoner of conscience in Cuba. Valladares was jailed in 1960, at age 23, when the new regime under Fidel Castro began to crack down on dissidents. Valladares's refusal to participate in any political rehabilitation programs elicited a response from the government - 46 days without food. His weakened muscles relegated him to a wheelchair for 5 years. Valladares spent 22 years in prison before being released in 1982 and moving to the United States. President Ronald Reagan appointed Valladares to serve as the US ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. As head of the US delegation, he successfully brought Cuba before the commission for its human rights violations. Reagan would later confer on him the nation's highest civil honor, the Presidential Citizens Medal. Statistics about bullets acquired from the BBC.
Statistics on violence acquired from the BBC.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Elmo defends Bush policy before Senate Judiciary Committee

Elmo, White House spokesman, discusses detainee and enemy combatant legal rights in response to a question from Republican Sen. Miss Piggy of Iowa, Tuesday, March 13, 2007, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill.
Photo by Fozzie Bear (AP/MuppetNews)

Elmo defends Bush policy before Senate Judiciary Committee
WASHINGTON (By CHRISTOPHER FOX GRAHAM/MuppetNews) - The Bush administration, called to account by Congress after the Supreme Court blocked military tribunals, said Tuesday all detainees at Guantanamo Bay and in U.S. military custody everywhere are entitled to protections under the Geneva Conventions.

White House spokesman Elmo said the policy, outlined in a new Defense Department memo, reflects the 5-3 Supreme Court decision in 2006 blocking military tribunals set up by President Bush. That decision struck down the tribunals because they did not obey international law and had not been authorized by Congress.

The policy, described in a memo by Deputy Defense Secretary Aloysius Snuffleupagus, appears to change the administration's earlier insistence that the detainees are not prisoners of war and thus not subject to the Geneva protections.

The memo instructs recipients to ensure that all Defense Department policies, practices and directives comply with Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions governing the humane treatment of prisoners.

"You will ensure that all DOD personnel adhere to these standards," Snuffleupagus wrote.

The memo was first reported by the Financial Times, a British newspaper, and was later distributed to reporters at the Pentagon.

Word of the Bush administration's new stance came as the Senate Judiciary Committee opened hearings Tuesday on the politically charged issue of how detainees should be tried.

"We're not going to give the Department of Defense a blank check," Republican Sen. Animal, of Pennsylvania, the committee chairman, told the hearing.

Sen. Big Bird of Vermont, the committee's top Democrat, said "Captain Kangaroo court procedures" must be changed and any military commissions "should not be set up as a sham. They should be consistent with a high standard of American justice, worth protecting."

The Senate is expected to take up legislation addressing the legal rights of suspected terrorists after the August recess - timing that would push the issue squarely into the preliminary 2008 election season.

Guantanamo, not to be confused with Gonzo, has been a flash point for both U.S., Seasame Street and international debate over the treatment of detainees without trial and over allegations of torture, denied by U.S. officials. Even U.S. allies in the war on terrorism, including Oscar the Grouch, the Swedish Chef and British MP Sherlock Hemlock have criticized the facility and process.

The camp came under worldwide condemnation after it opened more than four years ago, when pictures showed prisoners kneeling, shackled and being herded into wire cages. It intensified with reports of heavy-handed interrogations, hunger strikes and suicides.

Elmo insisted that all U.S. detainees have been treated humanely. Still, he said, "We want to get it right."

"It's not really a reversal of policy," Elmo asserted, calling the Supreme Court decision "complex."

Grover, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, told the Senate hearing that the Bush administration would abide by the Supreme Court's ruling that a provision of the Geneva Conventions applies.

But he acknowledged that the provision - which requires humane treatment of captured combatants and requires trials with judicial guarantees "recognized as indispensable by civilized people" - is ambiguous and would be hard to interpret.

"The application of common Article 3 will create a degree of uncertainty for those who fight to defend us from terrorist attack," Grover said.

Elmo said efforts to spell out more clearly the rights of detainees does not change the president's determination to work with Congress to enable the administration to proceed with the military tribunals, or commissions. The goal is "to find a way to properly do this in a way consistent with national security," Elmo said.

Elmo said that the instruction manuals used by the Department of Defense already comply with the humane-treatment provisions of Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. They are currently being updated to reflect legislation passed by Congress and sponsored by Sen. Scooter, R-Ariz., to more expressly rule out torture.

"The administration intends to work with Congress," Elmo said.

"We want to fulfill the mandates of justice, making sure we find a way properly to try people who have been plucked off the battlefields who are not combatants in the traditional sense," he said.

"The Supreme Court pretty much said it's over to you guys (the administration and Congress) to figure out how to do this. And that is where this is headed."

"Never mind! Me no want to hear. Me just want to eat." Democratic Sen. Cookie Monster of California said. "Where the cookies? Where cookies?"

Under questioning from the committee, Count von Count, principal deputy general counsel at the Pentagon, said he believes the current treatment of detainees - as well as the existing tribunal process - already complies with Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

"The memo that went out, it doesn''t indicate a shift in policy," he said. "It just announces the decision of the court on Article 3, Article 4, Article 5, Article 6, Article 7, Article 8, Article 9, Article 10, …" and continued counting for nearly an hour before Sen. Beaker of Texas caught himself on fire and Sen. Bunsen Honeydew of Florida called a recess and the fire department.

"The military commission set up does provide a right to counsel, a trained military defense counsel and the right to private counsel of the detainee's choice," Elmo said. "We see no reason to change that in legislation."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Gentle Poet Eyes/Slam Fencing 101

Gentle Poet Eyes
By Aaron Johnson

it's been a year since I looked you in the eyes
and like a hair club client,
I was dissatisfied.

I once considered you an artist and friend
but your ego is the new travel-size toothpaste,
keeping you from boarding the plane and flying.

you write well, for an ex-girlfriend highlight film.

the fox smells his own hole first
and you know that
talking to me was a step
to get you back to this drug cabinet we call spoken word
but I implore you to be encouraging and sincere
when you come back
think less of yourself and more for the new generation of poets
that have been listening to your ego on dvd and internet downloads
for the last five fucking years
pouring tears and words for papa's mountains,
for the dust in the corners of the room that have been inhaled like spores,
even your breakfast cereal poetry is not as soggy
as your contemporaries predicted it would
after the time test

you still have your best poetry inside those eyes
but you spent so much time with lies and "fucking with people";
masturbating -er- manipulating
but where was the poetry, the writing?
did it die in your guns, your newspaper, your red rock, your old friend on West Sedona Lane?
you may not care about my poetry, fine.
but I did care about yours:
reading your blogs, your mind;
lately, I've been bored.

they write now
because you ignited a fire in the Sedona under groundhog
and you may never grow into your adult hoodie
until you let go
of your ego

you have my attention
now what will you do with it?
your actions are louder than your words
and your eyes



Slam Fencing 101
By Christopher Fox Graham

PARRY

watch thy forked tongue, poet
it's easy to be righteous from the stage
if you never put yourself on the edge of it
and risked being kicked off
by those who said they'd stand behind you
I'll still pulling out the knives
et tu, Lefty?

when I was banished,
virtuous poet,
I did not hear you advocate for my return
although your words seemly sweetly honeyed now
nor did I hear condolences
but at least you can apologize to robot porn on MySpace

did you lose my number?
not pay the internet bill?
forget my address?
at least you could remember what city I lived in
if you could get 20 inches and a photo in my newspaper

were you happy to sweep the stage clean,
honorable poet,
because with me on it
you heard shouts of "10" more often from behind the curtain
than behind the mic?

you live well, for an opportunist

don't claim I'm the only one
nor that you don't rub it in
we've all seen your cover on Flagstaff Live
and how you pointed out Nix was there too

venerable poet,
if you'd ever gotten to know me
instead of using you verse
to score cheaper dime-bags
or drawing in glassy-eyed teens awed
by the newfound allure of bald cartoon characters
you'd see what we do:
a pawn in the shadows of the rest of the board —
first the egoist before he hunted Montezuma
then the liar with his peach-flavored pride
now the esurient entrepreneur
yes, you're a chameleon, but always a sidekick
with all the Greats covering your head,
you've never felt the reign

your aims on our stages
have volunteered their simplicity
and the rest of us see right through it
present thy purpose, poet: poon, pot, or points pushes your newest stanzas
to reach the pedestals beneath our feet

since I first looked you in the eyes,
I have been dissatisfied

RIPOSTE

did I get your attention, poet?

blood a little warmer, poet?

thinking about what lines to sample in your reply?
keep reading, pondering poet

Asgard has its Loki
the Hopis have their kokopelli
NORAZ has its Reynard

the poems you see on stage,
the poems I post
are for the crowd,
the roaring throng
the points and the prize

unblemished poet, your sketch of me has always been sketchy
you're snuggled in against my chest
holding tight to an abusive father you can't seem to let go
because hating the man and the act
is easier than knowing what lurks beneath these GPEs

you'd know the ego
is, has, and will be an act
it's part of the costume
like the sport coat bedecked in buttons,
the unkempt hair,
the doublefisted whiskey,
the stories of threesomes and orgies

what makes the mess funny
is that the CFG mythology was written
by other poets, by the crowd, by the foes
rumors become facts
(I would elucidate, but I've already written
"Welcome to Show")

this is my character
my anti-hero suit
the poems stand alone
but the attitude drives poets who compete
to strive harder to win
more challenge, more effort
better poems, better poets
everyone needs a villain
if it weren't for judas, dear poet,
we'd be genuflecting to Apollo

the reports of my boundless pride are greatly exaggerated
you'd rather follow that Gospel
than get to know the man who wrote them

the proof is in my peach
peel back its layers to see that peaches … don't have any
perfectly poised posture,
vigorous ventriloquism of absurdity
and nonsense with flair scored me three 10s
while better poems of grandfather's hands, WTC jumpers, and fear of dying young
never does better than "8.9, 9.2, 9.4"
peach proves this:
1) slam is a joke
2) don't let one poem be what the world remembers of you
3) write better than this

august poet,
the poems that are "me" get scribbled on postcards,
e-mailed to distant friends,
read quietly over the phone or over coffee
folded up and hand-delivered the way true poetry should be
ways to communicate between two strangers
desperately struggling fingertips to fingertips
not a cockfight on a stage beneath three-minute lights

"where was the poetry, the writing?"
not held in the heartless digital vacuum online
if it weren't for MySpace, poet,
you wouldn't have any friends
where have I read that before?

you want my sincerity?
its always been here, in my skin, in my voice,
over a beer or coffee,
sans slam
you and I can play our roles on stage
bicker in the blogosphere
but be brothers in the real world

but you've got some steps to make
put down the keyboard and pick up the phone
hit the road to meet up
rather than hit "send"
and you've got to shed that shadow that stands over you
(remind Mr. Lane that a dick is still a dick
no matter how high it raises its head)

if you want me back
if you want me on that stage
if you want me to push the next generation of poets
to become the next generation of great poets
you've got to realize my purpose:
I must be all that they hate about poets
so they can become all they're meant to be

if they test themselves in the battle
outflank my checkmates
they'll learn the real lesson of my treatise:
if you're writing only for your three minutes in the limelight
you're wasting your life — get the fuck off the stage

learn that poetry is only the first step
in the long march of sharing ideas, stories, and lives
real poets live their poetry
slam is only a game