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.

Friday, May 2, 2008

It was the best of times ...

Rehearsing in a garage, a high school student’s fingers run raw as she retries chord after chord, desperately trying to match music to her emotion.
Every failed strum brings her closer to that perfect song and every callus measures her journey.
Across town, a 28-year-old abstract painter adds another splash of color to a piece he’s already spent hours working to complete to his satisfaction.
Despite the difference in art form, personal background, experience, education and socio-economic class, Sedona’s underground artists seek the same vexing goal: expression.
Kindred spirits, the artists of Sedona reach out and support each other in ways that major city art scenes envy: poets attend friends’ art openings for inspiration, painters dance to their favorite bands and musicians cheer the loudest at poetry slams.
Understanding this city’s rare peculiarity – that artist friendships transcend genre – is what makes living, working and creating art here worth enduring endless road construction, noise ordinances and the high cost of living.
Desert sunsets every night, hiking trails minutes away, recently-immigrated artists adding new ideas and stories to our municipal tapestry infuse inspiration to short-timers and longtime artists alike.
Our residents may complain about the city’s small-town atmosphere bleeding away into memory, but for Sedona’s art community, it’s alive and well.
Sedona’s underground art scene has grown by leaps and bounds in my last three years, eight months and 23 days working as copy editor, columnist and arts reporter for Larson Newspapers.
From a loose collection of cliques and tribes, the art scene now boasts a cohesiveness that promulgates into the city’s core.
More festivals, arts events, concerts and small gigs – and greater diversity among them – have found the gumption to exhibit their creations. Their news continues to fill our pages.
At an event on Friday, April 25, a local artist told me that my work “has changed this town.” However, I am just a storyteller reporting on the changing city around us.
Artists and the community at large have grown to realize that art is not a luxury, it is as necessary as food, shelter health, education, decent working conditions, to paraphrase poet Adrienne Rich.
The city has always been a mecca for artists, ever since the Sinagua carved petroglyphs into the rock faces at Palatki Heritage Site centuries ago.
Many artists claim, while other loudly champion, that the strength of Sedona’s current underground art incarnation has its roots in a small coffeehouse located beneath a liquor store in West Sedona.
It was a venue that welcomed all artists to perform, exhibit and produce, served as a gathering place for local, temporary and traveling artists.
While the venue closed in July 2005, the close-knit community spirit has lived on, even among those who never drank a coffee within its walls.
The “Sedona Underground” column certainly had its roots there.
My first column on May 27, 2005, appeared with this editor’s note: “This is the first installment of a column that will appear weekly in The Scene. It will explore the underground artists and musicians of Sedona.”
Colleagues and friends alike wondered if there would be enough artists to maintain such an endeavor.
In the more than 100 columns published in The Scene, the well has yet to run dry.
Artists continue to appear from the woodwork, drawn not by “vortex” or “red rock fever,” but an unspoken conviction that Sedona returns to you what you bring to it – artists either flee within months or flourish for years.
Those who endure the trials of living here pass on their experience and artistic talents to those who move here for the art scene and those young artists who rise up and take their rightful place in the community.
What has made these artists so remarkable and worth the ink of newsprint are not simply their skills, but their proximity. These artists live and work among us – next door, down the street, or in a room upstairs.
It has been my privilege to bring you, our readers, the personal profiles of the scene’s most talented, influential, inspiring and promising members.
However, all good things must come to an end.
I am leaving the Sedona Red Rock News to pursue other artistic endeavors in the Verde Valley.
While this column comes to an end with my departure, the obligation to support, promote and celebrate the city’s art and artists falls on the community that they entertain and honor with their work.
Sedona’s destiny is to become an artistic hub of the Southwest, but we must all have to gumption to play our part.
Follow your bliss and build the city you want to see.
Contact Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com.


Now take the first nine paragraphs and read the first letter:
Rehearsing in a garage, a high school student’s fingers run raw as she retries chord after chord, desperately trying to match music to her emotion.
Every failed strum brings her closer to that perfect song and every callus measures her journey.
Across town, a 28-year-old abstract painter adds another splash of color to a piece he’s already spent hours working to complete to his satisfaction.
Despite the difference in art form, personal background, experience, education and socio-economic class, Sedona’s underground artists seek the same vexing goal: expression.
Kindred spirits, the artists of Sedona reach out and support each other in ways that major city art scenes envy: poets attend friends’ art openings for inspiration, painters dance to their favorite bands and musicians cheer the loudest at poetry slams.
Understanding this city’s rare peculiarity – that artist friendships transcend genre – is what makes living, working and creating art here worth enduring endless road construction, noise ordinances and the high cost of living.
Desert sunsets every night, hiking trails minutes away, recently-immigrated artists adding new ideas and stories to our municipal tapestry infuse inspiration to short-timers and longtime artists alike.
Our residents may complain about the city’s small-town atmosphere bleeding away into memory, but for Sedona’s art community, it’s alive and well.
Sedona’s underground art scene has grown by leaps and bounds in my last three years, eight months and 23 days working as copy editor, columnist and arts reporter for Larson Newspapers.
That's right, "Read Kudos" the secret message hinting at reading the competition arts publication I'm taking over on May 1.

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