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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slam Tutorial: Using Rhetorical Strategies

Rhetorical Strategies/Devices

Elements creators of text use to put forth their arguments

Themes: Linking devices that hold a text together structurally, e.g. the battle between good and evil: the general idea or insight about life a writer wishes to express. All of the elements of literary terms contribute to theme. A simple theme can often be stated in a single sentence.

Repetition of certain words: Why, with all the words at his or her disposal, does a writer choose to repeat particular words?

Counterpoints: Contrasting ideas such as black/white, darkness/light, good/bad.

Imagery: language that evokes one or all of the five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching.

Metaphor and symbolism: Non-literal, imaginative substitutions in which, for instance, a tree becomes a metaphor for family, or springtime symbolizes rebirth.

Characterization: The method used by a writer to develop a character. The method includes (1) showing the character's appearance, (2) displaying the character's actions, (3) revealing the character's thoughts, (4) letting the character speak, and (5) getting the reactions of others.

Plot development: Linear or fragmented, chronological or driven by a theme or some other unifying device.

Introduction and conclusion: Framing strategies.

Narrator: Usually first or third person. Is the narrator the same as the author?

Style, tone, voice: Gut reactions are useful here. Examine your own responses. What is it that makes you respond as you do? Are you the author’s intended audience? If not, who is? The attitude a writer takes towards a subject or character: serious, humorous, sarcastic, ironic, satirical, tongue-in-cheek, solemn, objective.

Analogy: The comparison of two pairs that have the same relationship. The key is to ascertain the relationship between the first so you can choose the correct second pair. Part to whole, opposites, results of are types of relationships you should find.

Example:
shells were to ancient culture as dollar bills are to modern culture OR shells: ancient culture :: dollar bills: modern culture

Flashback: Action that interrupts to show an event that happened at an earlier time which is necessary to better understanding.

Foreshadowing: The use of hints or clues to suggest what will happen later in literature.

Hyperbole: Exaggeration or overstatement.

Example:
I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate.

Personification: giving human qualities to animals or objects.

Example:
a smiling moon, a jovial sun

Allusion: A reference to something real or fictional, to someone, some event, or something in the Bible, history, literature, or any phase of culture.

Example: The author alludes to Helen of Troy when discussing women who bring about ruin.

Irony: An expression, often humorous or sarcastic, that exposes perversity or absurdity.

For example, the fact that only teams from the U. S. and Canada play in the World Series® is ironic.

Oxymoron: A contradiction in terms, such as faithless devotion, searing cold, deafening silence, virtual reality, act naturally, peacekeeper missile, or larger half.

Paradox: Reveals a kind of truth which at first seems contradictory.

Example:
Red wine is paradoxically good and bad for us.

Symbolism: is using an object or action that means something more than its literal meaning.

*The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships.
*A system of symbols or representations.
*A symbolic meaning or representation.

Example:
the bird of night (owl is a symbol of death)

Parody: A humorous exaggerated imitation, or travesty.

The film, Airplane! is a parody of 1970’s era disaster films. Austin Powers films parody James Bond-type spy films. Kung Fu Hustle - a movie by Steven Chow parodying Chinese wuxia films, as well as gangster films in general. Some examples of parody in classic literature include "MacFlecknoe," by John Dryden ,A Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift, The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope, Namby Pamby by Henry Carey, and Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.



Sarcasm: A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound.

A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule.

Satire: literary tone used to ridicule or make fun of human vice or weakness, often with the intent of correcting, or changing, the subject of the satiric attack. One of the most interesting features of satire is that it is almost universally believed to be a persuasive writing form. In actuality, it appears that most written satire actually fools most of its readers, so that, far from being persuasive, it is often not even understood.
Aristotelian Appeals

Logos

Appeals to the head using logic, numbers, explanations, and facts. Through Logos, a writer aims at a person's intellect. The idea is that if you are logical, you will understand.

Ethos

Appeals to the conscience, ethics, morals, standards, values, principles.

Pathos

Appeals to the heart, emotions, sympathy, passions, sentimentality.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What is rhetoric? How to use rhetoric in poetry

Define poetry:
We speak life in the colloquial tongue.
We think life to ourselves in prose.
We feel life in poetry.
Poetry is the captured sincerity of a moment.

We experience all of life's moments in poems. Because they come to us without words, we can experience them in their purity with an unlimited vocabulary.

For instance, there is no word in English or any other human language for the experience of looking through a window into the dawn sky in autumn just after waking on your day off and hoping for whole day of light drizzle because it brings back memories of rainy days during childhood. But we can feel it, envision the image, the feeling of cool air and slight moisture in the air ... but we can put ourselves there.

In poetry, we can pen the lines to reimagine that moment and the feeling of being there.
The poet's wordless feeling --> translated into a poem --> re-imagined by the reader into the wordless feeling

In prose, we can remove the magic a bit, but add the details of specificity. The beauty of the moment is replaced with accuracy. We take the prose into our understanding of language and recreate the image in our skull, effectively:
The author's wordless feeling --> summed up into a collection of poetic images --> translated into prose --> interpreted into imaging the author's specific moment --> re-imagined by the reader into the wordless feeling

In the colloquial, we do the same thing as prose, but with only our limited 1,000 word everyday vocabulary:
The speaker's wordless feeling --> summed up into a collection of poetic images --> conveyed through simple words --> interpreted by the listener --> re-imagined by the listener into the wordless feeling

Poetry is as near as we can come through language to sharing feelings short of telepathy. Poetry is the core of language that prose and everyday language clutter up for the sake of filling space and sound. In short, poetry is the Cliff's Notes of language.

Thus, understanding rhetoric, the study of how to use language most effectively, is paramount to being a good poet and a good slam poet as well.

That being said, I plan on exploring how to use rhetorical strategies in poetry over the next few weeks.

Rhetoric looms! Fear not! It is our ally, our tool, our weapon!
Most people hear "rhetoric" and cringe. That's because "empty rhetoric" has come to stand in for "'real' rhetoric."

However, once you understand the tenets of good rhetoric, you begin to understand that it's effective because it's so rational. Rhetoric is not complicated or bombastic or difficult to incorporate. It is actually quite simple, terse, and honestly beautiful.

Take a line from a film or a historical quote that you find particularly moving due just to the language and it likely incorporates a rhetorical strategy whether conscious or not.
"We shall go on to the end,
we shall fight in France,

we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air,
we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,

we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender"
-Sir Winston Churchill's
"We shall fight on the beaches" speech from 4 June 1940 employing the rhetorical strategy of "anaphora" or repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences, or lines.
We remember certain film quotes, political states, corporate slogans, mnemonic devices, headlines, and romantic phrases because they naturally fit the rules of rhetoric. I started writing poetry at 18 just before college. After I became an English major and began studying rhetoric, I realized that a lot of what sounded "good" in my poetry and the poetry that moved me fit rhetorical patterns whether the poet knew it or not. Rhetoric is naturally pleasing to the ear.

In a previous blog, I analyzed Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in the context of a poem. It is a beautiful expression of rhetoric in one of its highest form. One of the most obvious lines: "... We can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow ..." Just 12 words, but it uses a plethora of rhetorical strategies. It does not seem artificial in the least, but beautifully poetic. Ta-da! That's the beauty of rhetoric.

Language is essentially a complex mathematical problem. We're trying to express an idea by using a series of words like numbers and grammar like operations to most closely equal it. We use collections of the these sentence equations to add, subtract, multiply and divide from each other to move our audience through a mathematical proof from theory to solution.

The thing is that we often know that certain strategies work in a poem or story but not often why. Rhetoric is the why.

So what is rhetoric?

Plato: Rhetoric is “the art of winning the soul by discourse.”

Aristotle: Rhetoric is “the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion.”

Cicero: “Rhetoric is one great art comprised of five lesser arts: inventio, dispositio, elocutio, memoria, and pronunciatio.” Rhetoric is “speech designed to persuade.”

Quintillian: “Rhetoric is the art of speaking well.”

Francis Bacon: "Rhetoric is the application of reason to imagination “for the better moving of the will.”

George Campbell: “[Rhetoric] is that art or talent by which discourse is adapted to its end. The four ends of discourse are to enlighten the understanding, please the imagination, move the passion, and influence the will.”

A. Richards: “Rhetoric is the study of misunderstandings and their remedies.”

Kenneth Burke: “Rhetoric is rooted in an essential function of language itself, a function that is wholly realistic and continually born anew: the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols.” “Wherever there is persuasion, there is rhetoric, and wherever there is rhetoric, there is meaning.”

Richard Weaver: "Rhetoric is that “which creates an informed appetite for the good.”

Erika Lindemann: “Rhetoric is a form of reasoning about probabilities, based on Assumptions people share as members of a community.”

Andrea Lunsford: “Rhetoric is the art, practice, and study of human communication.”

Francis Christensen: “Grammar maps out the possible; rhetoric narrows the possible down to the desirable or effective.”
“The key question for rhetoric is how to know what is desirable.”

Sonja and Karen Foss: “Rhetoric is an action human beings perform when they use symbols for the purpose of communicating with one another . . , [and it] is a perspective humans take that involves focusing on symbolic processes.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Are you ready for "GumptionFest: The Movie"?


This is the trailer for a documentary film shot at GumptionFest IV. Filmmaker Gregg Ensminger is currently editing the final cut, but yes, we're in cinema now. Do you know any other Sedona festival that has a film about it?

I'll wait ....

Thought so. We rock.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rules of Poetry Slam ... Animated

For the love of all things holy, someone, please animate me.

Mike Henry, the subject of this awesome little animation is the former president of Poetry Slam Inc., the organization governing the National Poetry Slam, the International World Poetry Slam (iWPS).

He's been a longtime member of the Austin, Texas, slam scene, specifically 1995 Team Member, 1996 Slam Team Coach, 1997 Team Coach, 1998 National Poetry Slam Organizer and 1999 Team Member.

He spent the next few years running the madness that is PSi.

Again, this video is awesome.

Slam Tutorial: Having Fun With Sex


Objectifying a body part of the opposite sex can sometimes be a difficult thing to do in poetry. Between lovers, behind closed doors, we all often spend hours discussing anatomy, what they like, what they don't how things feel or how things can feel with the right stimulation.
That aside, Rock Baby's sheer enthusiasm for breasts is what sells this poem. Imagine performing this poem in a cover reading at your local open mic or poetry slam and you can see the inherent difficulty unless you are so over-the-top with the humor to truly sell it.
And yes, in person, Rock Baby is hysterical. I met him at the National Poetry Slam in Chicago in 2003 and I distinctly remember one breakfast morning where he had three tables in stitches talking about the van trip from Texas.

Titty Man
By Roderick "Rock Baby" Goudy

Warning, warning
This poem is not suitable for those who take life too serious
And lack a sense of humor.

Titty man gone wild
Titties, titties, titties!
I love me some titties
Big titties, small titties, skinny titties
Tall titties, titties sagging down
Titties juicy and round.

I love me some titties
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
I like those titties with a dark nipple in the middle
And ohhh! When they jiggle
Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle
Iggle, iggle, iggle, iggle
Iggle, iggle, iggle.

Breasts-ises
B-R-E-A-S-T-S--ISES
Just another name for those titties
You see they come in all shapes and sizes and forms
The average person don't know 'em like I know 'em
This goes for the ladies, too
Who've had titties
All their life.

I can tell the difference between a real titty, a fake titty
A too-young titty
And a titty that's ready and ripe
'Cause I'm a titty man
Hell, I could tell your future
If you just let me hold those titties in my hands.

You see, it does something to me when I see and hear a bra snap
When those titties stand out
It makes a brother like me
Moan and groan and slooooobber at the mouth
Especially when they're naked and pressed up against my chest
It makes it difficult to choose the type of titty that I love the best.

It could be old titties, swoll titties, titties hanging loose
Titties that look like fruits
Titties fully grown
Titties made of silicone
Tittes that make you always wanna hold her
Titties that you can throw over your shoulders.

Titties, difference colors, and I need them
Tittes on people who don't need them
Mean titties, sad titties
Titties that make you wish you had titties
Perfect titties squeezed together
And pushed to the front.

Now if I had a pair of titties
Those would be the type of titties that I'd want
Because I looooove me some titties.

I like 'em on the beach
In the sand
And when it's hot at home
I like to lick those titties in front of a fan
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh..

Whether in a regular, laced or fuzzy bra
I like those tittes that belongs to super stars
And for those ladies with those titties swoll like 2 balloons
I like to stick my face between 'em and go.

Bur-bur-bur-burrrrrrrrr!

Because I loooooove me some titties
LORD!


A native of Hattiesburg, Miss., Roderick Goudy, aka Rock Baby, is a seasoned performance poet, comic and writer. Widely considered a natural performer with an unique, eclectic and clever style, Goudy has delighted, educated and entertained people of various ages and ethnicities across America, quickly making him a crowd favorite within the "chitin circuit" of spoken word.
Appearing twice on HBO’s Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam in 2003 and 2005, Rock Baby offered television explosive performances with his distinct style of comedic poetry.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sedona Poetry Slam victory poem by Ryan Brown and Frank O'Brien


Ryan Brown won the July 17 Sedona Poetry Slam. As a member of the 2009 Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team, he (left) invited teammate Frank O'Brien (right) on stage to perform a O'Brien's duo piece as his victory poem. The Flagstaff Team made semi-finals at the National Poetry Slam less than three weeks later.

Brown is a kid from Phoenix who spends most of his time posing as a writer and poet. He now goes to school and lives in Flagstaff, where he is the SlamMaster of the FlagSlam Poetry Slam. Brown represented the Flagstaff Nationals Team at the National Poetry Slam.

O'Brien is a 20-year-old student at Coconino Community College, focusing in the general studies and pre-nursing. Originally from Phoenix, O'Brien entered the slam poetry scene in fall 2007. He traveled to Madison, Wis., in 2008 and to Orlando, Fla., in 2009 as a member of the Flagstaff National Slam Team. O'Brien is now an active poet and administrator of the FlagSlam Poetry Slam in Flagstaff.

Markus Eye video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 3


Markus Eye is a Sedona poet and photographer. Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #3, Poet #11, July 17, 2009

Wendy Davis video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 3


Wendy Davis is Creative Director of W-Fun TV, a certified yoga instructor and vocal coach in Sedona.
Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #3, Poet #10, July 17, 2009

Bert Cisneros video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 3


Norberto "Bert" Cisneros is a Cottonwood poet and jazz trumpet player. He has slammed in Sedona and FlagSlam and regularly reads at the Sedona Poetry Open Mic.

Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #3, Poet #9.

Photo by Jon Pelletier/Kudos

Mikel Weisser video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 3


Son of a nightclub singer, Kingman slam poet Mikel Weisser. spent his teens as a hitchhiker. Since then Weisser has gone on to receive a masters in literature and a masters in secondary education, published hundreds of freelance magazine and newspaper articles and political comedy columns, along with seven books of poetry and short fiction.
A former homeless shelter administrator, contestant on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," and survivor of his first wife's suicide, Weisser teaches junior high history and English in Bullhead City. He and his wife, Beth, have turned their So-Hi, Ariz., property into a peace sign theme park.
Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #3, Poet #7, July 17, 2009.

Gary Every video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 3


Gary Every's career has followed many diverse paths including geology exploration, carpenter, chef, piano player, punk rocker, dishwasher, photographer, mountain bike instructor, soccer coach, bonfire storyteller and just a general bad example to society as a whole.

It is perhaps as an author that Mr. Every has gained the most fame. Published nearly a thousand times, he has four books to his credit and more on the way.

Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #3, Poet #6, July 17, 2009.

Photo by Jon Pelletier/Kudos

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Maple Dewleaf video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 3


Maple Dewleaf is a psychedelic street poet who often makes the trek from Flagstaff to read poetry in Sedona. He read at the GumptionFest IV pre-party at Ken's Creekside.
Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #3, Poet #4, July 17, 2009.

Frank O'Brien video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 3


Frank O'Brien is a 20-year-old student at Coconino Community College, focusing in the general studies and pre-nursing. Originally from Phoenix, O'Brien entered the slam poetry scene in fall 2007. He traveled to Madison, Wis., in 2008 and to Orlando, Fla., in 2009 as a member of the Flagstaff National Slam Team.
O'Brien is now an active poet and administrator of the FlagSlam Poetry Slam in Flagstaff.
Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #3, Poet #3.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Guadarrama

Ed Mabrey video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 3


Ed Mabrey is a two-time Haiku National Slam Champion and 2007-2008 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion.
He has been a member of and coached several winning Rust Belt Regional Poetry Slam Teams out of Columbus, Ohio. Mabrey has released two books, "From the Page to the Stage and Back Again" to critical acclaim and "Revoked:My GhettoPass(ivity)" which was a limited release item.Maybrey has released two CDs of his own work, and has been on projects with other artists and DJs.

He is the founder of Black Pearl Poetry based in Phoenix.

Ryan Brown video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 3


Ryan Brown is a kid from Phoenix who spends most of his time posing as a writer and poet. He now goes to school and lives in Flagstaff, where he is the SlamMaster of the FlagSlam Poetry Slam. Ryan Brown represented the Flagstaff Nationals Team at the National Poetry Slam.

Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #3, Poet #1, July 17, 2009.

Nika Levikov video of "My Country"


For the past two weekends, my friend Nika Levikov has trekked down the hill from Flagstaff to Sedona for poetry events. She read a few poems at the GumptionFest IV pre-party at Ken's Creekside, then read the Cabaret Tent at GumptionFest IV Day One on Saturday.

This last weekend, she came down to keep score at the Sept. 11 slam I hosted at Studio Live.

We hiked to Devil's Bridge the next day.

Among the components of our friendship is critiquing each other's poetry. My favorite slam poem of hers is the identity poem "My Country," which I was glad she performed at both GumptionFest and as a calibration poem at the July 17 slam.

My Country
By Nika Levikov


Babushka likes to tell me about communism
the days when Ukraine was Russia.
The Soviet Union,
a name that has prevented me
from understanding who I really am.
Who I really am?
and sometimes I fear that stories
are the only things left to give me an insight.
Papa would always tell me how he dreamed of leaving.
life was rough and somewhere out there
America,
was an easier path
and that was really all he said,
his words flowed from his mouth like Matryoshka dolls,
never opened
and the layers upon layers of stories
he chose not to speak of.
And here I am, sitting in front of these faces
trying to explain why I must go there.

Dedushka laughs,
aside from my youth he says,
there is an identity that stays with you
before any Russian label.
And they aren’t ready for you yet.
They aren’t ready for you Jew.
They can see it in your face,
it’s written in your hair
and can’t you see how the letters are bolded across your jawline?
Jew, and they will hate you for it.

But I’m wondering how long
can you hide me from the ignorance of other’s.
How long papa,
will you shelter me from the judgment
that has slept under your very pillow
since the day you learned the meaning?
And can’t you see, mama
I’m not afraid anymore.
my only fear
is never getting the chance to understand,
to see you streets where I am certain
the sun still casts your shadow.

I want to go there
and feel your sweat, papa
that leaked from your hands
as you stood in line for days, waiting for your freedom.

I have heard other stories
and I am convinced that my eyes will burn
from shattered hearts still hanging on windowsills
and my ears will scream,
from the sound of tattered orange flags
still flapping from the signs that say “welcome”.
but I am also convinced,
that beauty thrives here still,
in the language whose voice cascaded over every Russian text,
in the dance
that has always broken free from Russian song.

mother, I come for you
and I do not forget you.
my family, born from you
my traditions, my tongue awakened by your distant breathes.

I want to see you.
I want to sleep in your skin
till the culture of my ancestors
becomes the air I’m breathing.
in you, rests a side of my family I have never known
and please, let me get on my knees,
bury my hands in their soil
and say “esvenee, esvenee mena”
sorry, for not having come sooner.

mother, I may not have been raised under your skies,
but I don’t think it’s too late to start learning.
to learn about your language, your song, your food,
and your independence.
I know that you will accept me
regardless of the blood that flows
with rituals of a different kind.
you have always been a part of me.
so I guess this isn’t an act of rebellion
against my family,
this isn’t for the justification that I am who I am,
I say to the world,
to my family,
this, is for my country.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mikel Weisser video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 2


Son of a nightclub singer, Kingman slam poet Mikel Weisser. spent his teens as a hitchhiker. Since then Weisser has gone on to receive a masters in literature and a masters in secondary education, published hundreds of freelance magazine and newspaper articles and political comedy columns, along with seven books of poetry and short fiction.
A former homeless shelter administrator, contestant on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," and survivor of his first wife's suicide, Weisser teaches junior high history and English in Bullhead City. He and his wife, Beth, have turned their So-Hi, Ariz., property into a peace sign theme park.
Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #2, Poet #11, July 17, 2009.

Ed Mabrey video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 2


This poem was my particular favorite at this slam because of its lyricism, because it captures our seemingly futile despiration to halt genocide despite seeing it and because my mother was in the audience. I almost imagined he was writing it about her because she sometimes still scares the bejeezus out of me.

Ed Mabrey is a two-time Haiku National Slam Champion and 2007-2008 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion.
He has been a member of and coached several winning Rust Belt Regional Poetry Slam Teams out of Columbus, Ohio. Mabrey has released two books, "From the Page to the Stage and Back Again" to critical acclaim and "Revoked:My GhettoPass(ivity)" which was a limited release item.Maybrey has released two CDs of his own work, and has been on projects with other artists and DJs.

He is the founder of Black Pearl Poetry based in Phoenix.

Markus Eye video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 2


Markus Eye is a Sedona poet and photographer. Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #2, Poet #9, July 17, 2009

Gary Every video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 2


Gary Every's career has followed many diverse paths including geology exploration, carpenter, chef, piano player, punk rocker, dishwasher, photographer, mountain bike instructor, soccer coach, bonfire storyteller and just a general bad example to society as a whole.

It is perhaps as an author that Mr. Every has gained the most fame. Published nearly a thousand times, he has four books to his credit and more on the way.

Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #2, Poet #8, July 17, 2009.

Photo by Jon Pelletier/Kudos

Frank O'Brien video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 2


Frank O'Brien is a 20-year-old student at Coconino Community College, focusing in the general studies and pre-nursing. Originally from Phoenix, O'Brien entered the slam poetry scene in fall 2007. He traveled to Madison, Wis., in 2008 and to Orlando, Fla., in 2009 as a member of the Flagstaff National Slam Team.
O'Brien is now an active poet and administrator of the FlagSlam Poetry Slam in Flagstaff.
Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #2, Poet #7.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Guadarrama

Wendy Davis video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 2


Wendy Davis is Creative Director of W-Fun TV, a certified yoga instructor and vocal coach in Sedona.
Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #2, Poet #6, July 17, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bert Cisneros video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 2


Norberto "Bert" Cisneros is a Cottonwood poet and jazz trumpet player. He has slammed in Sedona and FlagSlam and regularly reads at the Sedona Poetry Open Mic.

Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #2, Poet #5.

Photo by Jon Pelletier/Kudos

Ryan Brown video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 2


Ryan Brown is a kid from Phoenix who spends most of his time posing as a writer and poet. He now goes to school and lives in Flagstaff, where he is the SlamMaster of the FlagSlam Poetry Slam. Ryan Brown represented the Flagstaff Nationals Team at the National Poetry Slam.

Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #2, Poet #4, July 17, 2009.

Maple Dewleaf video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 2


Maple Dewleaf is a psychedelic street poet who often makes the trek from Flagstaff to read poetry in Sedona. He read at the GumptionFest IV pre-party at Ken's Creekside.
Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #2, Poet #3, July 17, 2009.

Obama with lightsaber on White house lawn

For nearly a year, I have attempted to prove that Barack Obama is not just the president, but he is, indeed a Jedi knight. I know have undeniable proof (from a tip by Danielle Gervasio), this photo of Barack Obama with a lightsaber in hand, in a Shii-Cho or Makashi pose (although based on his campaign and governing style, I think Obama would likely be a Soresu practitioner):
To see previous commentary on my theories, see Alternative Weekly Covers, President Obama-Wan Kenobi, John Williams composes a presidential "score 'for the inauguration'" and "'not' a score for a Jedi," Further Proof that Obama is Jedi, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is related to Queen Padme Amidala and some Obama Jedi Haiku.

"We Call Him Papa" video from the Sedona Poetry Slam





We Call Him Papa
for Frank Leslie "Buster" Redfield
May 14, 1925 - Oct. 31, 2004

we call him Papa
and he could move mountains with his silence

he fathered a family of artists
who knew the value of labor
the efficiency of expression
if it is unclear, rephrase it
if it is unusable, remove it
if it is imperfect, rework it
until it is as much a part of you
as a limb
he never said this
but his life implied it

his stone eyes
edited lies from our speech
before we could speak them
his hands held me tight once
after I sinned
they held me soft
when my father translated himself
into a mythology
I've since ceased believing in
his hands were the tools
with which he spoke through his silence

he carved and crafted rifles
like Stradivarius made violins
and the first recoil
was a symphony
compressed to a split second
he brought wood to life
as though generations of forests grew
to make the right grain
the right feel worthy of his talent

he did not build airplanes,
he built aircraft with the precision of a heart surgeon
knowing a loose screw, one misaligned wire
could transform a craft of beauty
into a coffin
and wife like his into a widow
he made no widows
except one

he crafted art that soared like mechanical angels
and made us feel
how he must have felt with Grandma

even in his absence he scares me
because he was so much more
of what a man should be
than the men I see around me
than the man who fathered me

he was sometimes the machine moving me
he was sometimes the monster under my bed
keeping me from going gently into the night
without fighting the darkness
he was sometimes a giant
stretching hands from horizon to horizon
holding down the sun and moon
and dictating their rising

I am convinced that eastern Montana
is so perfectly flat
in awe of him

we call him Papa
and he could move mountains with his silence

I never heard him say he loved her
not in words
not in a way I could steal
not in a way that the cheap poet in me
could have plagiarized into a stanza
for some mediocre poem unworthy of his memory

I never heard him say he loved her with words

he said it with his eyes

he said it in the stories my mother would tell me
about how he would raise armies and wage wars
just to bring her flowers

he said it with the way he told me
about driving across New York and Pennsylvania every weekend
just to see her for two hours between college classes and curfews

he said he loved her by playing "waltzing matilda" on a harmonica
like he was asking her to dance for the first time,
even after all these years

he said he loved her
by showing us how good man
should love a woman right

we call him Papa
and he could move mountains with his silence

he is the poet
me, his eldest grandson,
I am just his microphone

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Monkeys, Ninjas, Zombies, Robots, Pirates

For years, the debate has raged about the balance of power between Monkeys, Ninjas, Zombies, Robots, Pirates.

Any questions?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Antranormus video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 1


Antranormus is a hip-hop artist who constantly seeks to redefine or blur completely the boundaries between hip-hop, poetry and absolute absurdity. Known for his complex, multisyllabic rhyme schemes and controversial subject matter, he has shared the stage with members of the Wu Tang Clan, Jurassic 5, Abstract Rude, Illogic, and Sole.

Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #1, Poet #10, July 17, 2009

Maple Dewleaf video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 1


Maple Dewleaf is a psychedelic street poet who often makes the trek from Flagstaff to read poetry in Sedona. He read at the GumptionFest IV pre-party at Ken's Creekside and has represented FlagSlam at several regional competitions.

Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #1, Poet #9, July 17, 2009.

Ryan Brown video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 1


Ryan Brown is a kid from Phoenix who spends most of his time posing as a writer and poet. He now goes to school and lives in Flagstaff, where he is the SlamMaster of the FlagSlam Poetry Slam. Ryan Brown represented the Flagstaff Nationals Team at the National Poetry Slam.

Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #1, Poet #8, July 17, 2009.

Bert Cisneros video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 1


Norberto "Bert" Cisneros is a Cottonwood poet and jazz trumpet player. He has slammed in Sedona and FlagSlam and regularly reads at the Sedona Poetry Open Mic.

Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #1, Poet #7.

Photo by Jon Pelletier/Kudos

Monday, September 14, 2009

Frank O'Brien video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 1


Frank O'Brien is a 20-year-old student at Coconino Community College, focusing in the general studies and pre-nursing. Originally from Phoenix, O'Brien entered the slam poetry scene in fall 2007. He traveled to Madison, Wis., in 2008 and to Orlando, Fla., in 2009 as a member of the Flagstaff National Slam Team.
O'Brien is now an active poet and administrator of the FlagSlam Poetry Slam in Flagstaff.
Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #1, Poet #5.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Guadarrama

Gary Every video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 1


Gary Every's career has followed many diverse paths including geology exploration, carpenter, chef, piano player, punk rocker, dishwasher, photographer, mountain bike instructor, soccer coach, bonfire storyteller and just a general bad example to society as a whole.

It is perhaps as an author that Mr. Every has gained the most fame. Published nearly a thousand times, he has four books to his credit and more on the way.

Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #1, Poet #4, July 17, 2009.

Photo by Jon Pelletier/Kudos

Markus Eye video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 1


Markus Eye is a Sedona poet and photographer. Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #1, Poet #3, July 17, 2009.

Ed Mabrey video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 1


Ed Mabrey is a two-time Haiku National Slam Champion and 2007-2008 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion.
He has been a member of and coached several winning Rust Belt Regional Poetry Slam Teams out of Columbus, Ohio. Mabrey has released two books, "From the Page to the Stage and Back Again" to critical acclaim and "Revoked:My GhettoPass(ivity)" which was a limited release item.Maybrey has released two CDs of his own work, and has been on projects with other artists and DJs.

He is the founder of Black Pearl Poetry based in Phoenix,
Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #1, Poet #2

Mikel Weisser video, Sedona Poetry Slam round 1


Son of a nightclub singer, Kingman slam poet Mikel Weisser. spent his teens as a hitchhiker. Since then Weisser has gone on to receive a masters in literature and a masters in secondary education, published hundreds of freelance magazine and newspaper articles and political comedy columns, along with seven books of poetry and short fiction.
A former homeless shelter administrator, contestant on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," and survivor of his first wife's suicide, Weisser teaches junior high history and English in Bullhead City. He and his wife, Beth, have turned their So-Hi, Ariz., property into a peace sign theme park.
Sedona Poetry Slam, Round #1, Poet #1, July 17, 2009.

"To The Girl Riding Shotgun" Sedona Poetry Slam video



To The Girl Riding Shotgun
For Montana and Sarrah Wile


across this home country of rednecks and ranchers
the pages of my ancestry
turn backward to days
running barefoot over vetch and stones
when i stood much shorter
gracing the sweetgrass with elbows and shoulders
instead of the strained fingertips of today
memories flood back when i least expect them
lessons learned, loves lost,
childhood games and their innocence
before i translated the rules
and learned how to break them

the silhouettes of familiar landscapes
eagerly welcome me back as if they're the tourists
revisiting a boy they knew in their youth

these green wheat fields of farmer tans
these western hats signaling oncoming howdys
these selfless smiles from strangers
this countryside
this is home

a boy i knew once lives here
we shared the same name
wished on the same stars
jumped the same cricks together
and left the other behind
when we cut the cord
leaving him in the Rockies
while i wandered the deserts

we see each other still in dreams
and play tag with fawns, calves and cubs
that have yet to learn
our parents play predator and prey

he still plays on the hillsides i long for,
beneath fir trees overlooking the valley that once held me fast
along the yellowstone artery carving a canyon
our ancestors will see from orbit

his house is over the ridge,
somewhere
down this dusty stretch of gravel,
somewhere
in the shadow of flax and sweetpeas,
somewhere
i know the outline of the farm like a thumbprint
can pick it blindfolded from all the others
simply by the sound of the breeze
but the roads still seems unfamiliar
though the map clearly says it's here

and to the girl riding shotgun
all this land is as new
as it seems to me mostly
as i wait for the memories in bottles
to find me lost in this sea of rolling hills
beneath blue moons rising red in the blood of harvest
sometimes we're both awash anew in these fields
National Geographic anthropologists on assignment
deciphering a dialect with a common vocabulary
in others
she is only a passported traveler while i am timeless
standing swallowed by the sunset of red fields
touching my family's livelihood in the grain
reaching roots down deep into the land
that we love as a mother

bud lights, rodeos and Hank Williams
rise up from the soil
in the aftermath of a solid spring shower
as honky-tonk two-steps,
broad-rimmed stetsons
and a vigorous fiddle
shake free the alfalfa baled back home
and for a moment in the dim lights
old men remember being cowboys
while cowgirls look for old wives they will become

to understand montana
you must travel it by road
knowing that distances are measured in days, not hours
every stop is a must-see
because haybales are the only signs of human habitation
no matter what town you visit,
there's always a drink waiting at The Mint,
where the bartenders call you "hon,"
even if they know your name

lost locals identify themselves
by family name first
in the smallest towns
to which your bloodlines tie you
in Montana,
family comes before the man

here, where death and life are cyclical
we learn young to converse honestly
because each visit
may be the last
until the hereafter
words are ties that bind

that boy i once knew
i see now grown up
behind the wheel of every beat-up Ford
that passes us
the girl riding shotgun learns
that the difference between
redneck and revolutionary
lies in the chance taken
by my parents
before i could even spell "poet"

that boy sees me, too
behind the wheel of every out-of-state plate
knowing that this boy looking for home,
somewhere
is on the interstate,
somewhere
dreaming of catching up,
somewhere
where the beer is cold
the jukebox plays only johnny cash
and on the drive back down country roads
the breezes bring back memories
on the parachutes of roadside dandelions

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sedona flood photos by Misha Saez

Misha Saez, who works at Tlaquepaque, shot these two photos of the flash flood damage shortly after the waters subsided on Thursday 10 Sept.
"I caught Superman sitting, with a shellshocked look on his face... it all happened so fast, he didn't have time to act!"
"and this guy really went out of his way to avoid those pedestrians!"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Diocletianic Persecution Haiku

Diocletianic Persecution Haiku
How did I get here?
Girl said, "I don't date pagans"
Skirt chasing ... fatal.

As lion chews thigh
I wonder if Christian chick
will finds me as hot

My plan is simple:
Let lions eat dudes praying
hope they all get stuffed

Being eaten alive
seems more cruel when I find that
it's still pre-season

Try telling Christian
that his death will make Sportscenter's
"Plays of the Week"

In Coliseum,
Fans with popcorn and peanuts
think "how ironic"

Lions eat Christians ...
at least it's quick. I mean,
bulls eat Mithraists

I wonder who was
the Bill Buckner of lions?
There must have been one.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Slam Tutorial: Rely on Your Grandma



"Grandma's Got it Going On (Rise and Shine)"
By Shane Koyczan



Every day, Grandma would come into my room and I would hear her say-
Rise and shine, the world has a whole 'nother design, there’s
someone
out there
some where
young man.

So I rose and I shone put on my shoes and I was gone.

See, Grandma bought me my first phone, she said Don't bother calling the people who care, call the people who don’t.

Don't bother calling the people who have taken up the fight, call people who won’t.

And I learned at a very young age where my grandma’s rage came from: The entire congregation of God. Never ask grandma about God.

I'd argue with her everyday and all she'd say was, Go down to the store, buy some light bulbs. And when you run out, buy some more.

Because the light at the end of your tunnel needs to be maintained.

You can't let it be stained by "their beliefs are better than your beliefs" and you can't agree to disagree because they're fucking wrong!

It's not the strong who have gotten lazy, its just your vision is a little hazy- you're not sure what it is you want but what you've got is all you need.

It falls to greed.

For every hypocritical church-goer who won’t walk past beggars because they can't spare a dime, Grandma says fuck them.

I don't speak to God because I think God's a tyrant.

And yeah, it struck me as strange every time I walk past a brother that stops to ask me "Hey, can you spare some change?" because yes I can. You see, I don't carry change around in my back pocket; I don’t wear it around my neck on a chain in some locket.

I keep change on the tip of my tongue so I can climb the rungs of a ladder to a better place; I forgot about saving face, Grandma told me save your grace.

I keep change in the tip of my pen and it seeps out every now and then as bursts of anger that make me think, maybe the writing on the wall could use a little revision.

Grandma told me stop trying to calculate the difference between people, people don't need division. Gotta stick together, gotta love each other, father brother sister mother uncles sons and aunts, forget about the chants the cheers the jokes the tears after two thousand years you'd think we'd know by now!

Grandma said We will only find equality in our number of tears.

And she was right because I don’t know what injustices you've suffered based on size sex race religion or the political pigeon shitting on the shoulders of us versus them like in Bethlehem when a man said Hey, I could be wrong, but why can't we all just get along?

No.

So we nailed him to a tree. See?

Justice isn’t just isn't, it just is.

And I can't change it, you can’t change it, so we just gotta try to rearrange it and if at all this miracle got the chance to work would I see people the way they see me?

Because seeing is believing and if you see what I see you wouldn't want to see anymore. But I’ve got a little surprise in store.

For every man who looks upon me with judgement in his eyes, there’s a woman looks upon me with wetness in her thighs.

I'm the world’s greatest overweight lover.

And you might just laugh and you might just gulp but my bones are big for sticks and stones and names just piss me off and Grandma told me, Young man you cant be concerned with whatever it is that they've got the only reason they think they're beautiful is the same reason they think you're not. And Young man, you have beauty beyond measure you are a treasure entrenched in this earth, you can’t let strangers determine your worth, Rise and shine.

So I rose and I shone, I put on my shoes and I was gone.

See, Grandma bought me my first phone, she said, Young man from time to time I too need to smile, would you do me a favour and keep me on speed dial.

Yes grandma,

I will.

And still to this day I can call her up and can hear her say It’s a game, you play, you win, you play, you lose, you play.

Rise and shine the world has another whole design, there’s someone out there somewhere but young man if you are playing to win the first thing you have to do is apply within.

Slam Tutorial: Imagine Human Behavior During a Tragedy

This poem was inspired by seeing a single image replayed on video the night of Sept. 11, 2001. Two people, presumably a man and woman, holding hands as they fell from one of the World Trade Centers in New York City, N.Y. It haunted me more than other images from the attack because of its premeditated rationality as opposed to a reactionary act of desperation.

I haven't seen the image since and sometimes wonder if I just imagined it. If I knew their names and who they were, would it change the nature of the poem or my performance of it?


They Held Hands
by Christopher Fox Graham

On a commonplace Tuesday morning,
not unlike that Sunday morning
60 years before, destined for infamy
they held hands
as they fell

It was a working Tuesday
a date on the calendar
a morning like the morning before
but now they found themselves
standing on the window sill
of the 92nd floor
overlooking the city
and they felt weightless

They were not thinking
about the cause-and-effect history
of textbooks and CNN sound bytes
they weren’t debating the geopolitical ramifications
leading up to that morning
he had decaf
she had a bearclaw and an espresso
and they talked about "Will & Grace"

then jets impregnated buildings with infernos
and now the fire was burning
and the smoke was rising
and it was getting hard to breathe
even after they smashed the window out
the inferno was swelling
it had reached their floor
their stairwells were gone
and the options now
were to burn

or to fall

when the human animal realizes death is inevitable
psychologists say we want control
over those final moments
choosing suicide over surrender is a healthy reaction
because we choose to accept our annihilation
rather than letting it choose us

So on one side
is unbearable heat
roaring flames
acrid smoke
and screams of the suffering

On the other side:
fresh air

suicide is the final act of free will
that keeps the consciousness intact
even as it is destroyed

but they were not thinking about psychology
they were not thinking about terrorism
the debate about responsibility,
retaliation,
wars, flags, and Patriot Acts
can wait until September 12th
this morning belongs to them
because they did not have a tomorrow

the true terror of that morning
is to know what they were thinking
as they decided then whether
to burn
or to fall
now, imagine having that conversation
with the stranger
sitting next to you:
The barricade at the door is on fire
the extinguisher is empty
we are blinded by the smoke
and on the windowsill of the 92nd floor
we wait until flames lick our clothes
before we lean forward
and choose that moment to fall
others who fell were scrambling
or screaming or on fire
but we held hands as we fell

survivors of falls from extreme heights report
that falls are slow-motion transcendence
and the experience is almost “mystical”

I don’t know if they felt “mystical”
I know it takes

1 …

2 …

3 …

4 …

5 …

6 …

7 …

8.54 seconds

to fall 1,144 feet

just enough time to say a prayer
or regret a memory
or ask forgiveness
or say goodbye
or wonder how the sky can be so perfectly blue
on such a beautiful morning

Rain gods wouldn't destroy CFG's Sedona, right?

Nothing like shamelessly taking advantage of a tragedy to further one's political career.

Vote CFG!

In 2012!

(Hope you all saw my photos up on NBC Channel 12 and Channel Fox 10 tonight).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sedona Flood photo #48, map & video


Map of the damage to Tlaquepaque.

I shot this at the far end of Tlaquepaque near Plaza de la Fuenta. Sorry for the brevity, but I wanted to save batteries for the later photos.
Traffic begins to get back to normal. Anyone can use these photos. E-mail me at foxthepoet@yahoo.com for the full originals.

Sedona Flood photo #47

The entrance to the Tlaquepaque parking lot. Anyone can use these photos. E-mail me at foxthepoet@yahoo.com for the full originals.

Sedona Flood photo #46

Looking toward the Tlaquepaque employee parking lot beyond the caution tape. I heard one of the employees earlier state that she was quitting in a week and didn't have any insurance, so she's doubly out of luck.

Anyone can use these photos. E-mail me at foxthepoet@yahoo.com for the full originals.

Sedona Flood photo #45

Looking toward Los Abrigados. Anyone can use these photos. E-mail me at foxthepoet@yahoo.com for the full originals.

Sedona Flood photo #44

The car shoved against the side of Oak Creek Brewery. Anyone can use these photos. E-mail me at foxthepoet@yahoo.com for the full originals.

Sedona Flood photo #43 Oak Creek Brewery


Anyone can use these photos. E-mail me at foxthepoet@yahoo.com for the full originals.

Sedona Flood photo #42

About six inches of mud. Lots of art ruined. Anyone can use these photos. E-mail me at foxthepoet@yahoo.com for the full originals.

Sedona Flood photo #41 Ruptured gas line

The ruptured gas line, shut off at this point. Anyone can use these photos. E-mail me at foxthepoet@yahoo.com for the full originals.

Sedona Flood photo #40 Patio de Las Rosas

This is the center of Tlaquepaque's Patio de Las Rosas, looking north. That thing in the middle is the 7-foot tall elk on its side. The caution tape is up due to the gas leak, caused by the car. Please not the yellow "FLT" sticker on the upper left of the license plate: a tourist rental.

Anyone can use these photos. E-mail me at foxthepoet@yahoo.com for the full originals.