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, July 29, 2009

Slam Tutorial: Before I Start this Poem ... I'll Say Who This Poem is For

Before I Start this Poem, I'll Read You the Poem

This "sneaky" tactic takes advantage of the sometimes irritating habit of reading a disclaimer before reading a poem. However, the disclaimer winds up being the poem itself. This is sometimes used very briefly as a hook, as in "Before I start this poem / I'll like to say that the first three lines / you won't think are the poem / but by line four you know I've started"

This strategy has several species:

Before I Start this Poem ... I'll Say Who This Poem is For

This poem takes the conceit and adapts it to quantify who the poem is for. However, the poem quickly becomes for the entire crowd. It almost works as a reverse argumentum ad hominem, in which the audience systemically include themselves in the groups that she includes. It begins with groups the audience would like not include themselves in, "the pathetic," "the lame," "the loser," then expands to more readily identifiable subgroups, "this poem is for all those who wish to say 'I’m sorry'" and "for all the humans with love for those who aren’t their lovers."

"I Love You" By Tennessee Mary Fons

this poem is for the pillow clutchers
for those looking into the imaginary eyes of the person who fills their mind with sugarplum smiles
for those who have a cannon of dreams ready and waiting to blossom
for the men and the women who want to be understood in that way that only someone who kisses you can understand you
this poem is for you.

this poem is not for the desperate
the pathetic
the lame
the loser
not for the one who hasn’t gotten laid in awhile
not for the one who says they’re “choosing not to date” for a while
there is no such thing
this poem is for the people who cannot bring themselves to admit that they would give their right leg for any length of time with the person on their mind.

forgive me
I am not a brave woman
I do not know what lurks in the hearts of humans and I don’t really want to know
if what’s there mirrors memories I show in my face on bad days it holds kisses that are long gone
people who have disappeared
and passions that have faded into the ether of the past
nothing lasts
that is the one lesson this coward can say she is able to teach.

this poem is for all those who wish to say “I’m sorry”
I’m sorry I couldn’t love you
you deserve love
I’m sorry I couldn’t give something to you
you deserve to be given to
I’m sorry that for every person that loves somebody
another person just doesn’t want to
and sometimes we’re the lucky ones
we get to feel sweet truth in the night
the bodies we reach out to are miraculously there
but I know the despair that comes when they are not
I know the long nights and the doubt and the fear and that crawling back to a womb that just isn’t there
I know intensity’s address and the letdown that rents there
I’m sorry for it
it takes years off your life and it cannot be avoided.

and some times these little words are crutches for the crush that we feel
so this poem is a pathetic vehicle for me to tell you
each one of you
that I love you
in so many ways
in the same ways that stay up nights and days
dreaming up the perfect way to be there for someone
meals you would cook for them
poems you would write for them and the things you plan to say when they say no
well, I love you
and you will never know how in the slight of a magician’s hand we could’ve been lovers and grandly in love
could’ve changed the whole game
written words on the horizon
changed the compromise
but you will know something else instead
bitter as bitter ever gets
more bitter than a rotten peach pit
more bitter than a child’s most terrifying nightmare at night
you will know that I don’t reflect what I see in your eyes
will will share some banal recognition
some cordial understanding but have I mentioned that I love you for not lying
so many people lying all the time
I hate them
so I love you
and you will still go home alone
and that is very hard to do.

for all the humans with love for those who aren’t their lovers
I love you.

and so the poem ends because we know that it will
but before it slips away like everything else
I will attempt the only words I can think of that are a fraction as good as a kiss: when you reach out at night and find not someone
but the cold grey light of day that wakes you up like a slap
like a curse
like an insult
I love you
when you stay at home thinking of those who are long gone or those who are getting kisses from someone that is not you
I love you
for those who want what they probably need and whose bodies are starving not for food
for me and for you and for all the people who never knew or understood what you would do for them
I love you
I love you
I love you

“Tennessee Mary" Fons, an Iowa native, has been writing and performing her poetry and other solo works around the country for the better part of 6 years. She has been the featured performer in over 30 poetry slam venues.

Tennessee Mary represented the Green Mill at the National Poetry Slam in 2003 and represented Chicago again in 2005 as a member of the Mental Graffiti-Wicker Park team. She served for three years as Poetry Coordinator for Chicago’s Bucktown Arts Fest (2004-2007) and was a founding member of the Speakeasy Ensemble, a performance poetry group currently gigging in and around the Chicago.


Anonymous said...

I couldnt agree with you more!!

Anonymous said...

Thank god some bloggers can write. My thanks for this piece of writing!