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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Slam Tutorial: "Beauty Ba-Bo" by R.C. Weslowski, solo and group versions

"Beauty Ba-Bo" by R.C. Weslowski. A little Lewis Carroll, a little absurdist, a little funny and a whole lotta awesome.


I have included this poem in my Slam Tutorial section of this blog is because it clearly shows how a perfectly fine solo poem by a single author can be converted in a group poem by adding choreography and multiple voices. If you want to make a group poem from your solo piece, watch the two poems in sequence.

A little backstory.

When Azami and I started talking seriously about poetry, she mentioned having seen R.C. Weslowski. I knew the name and knew his face from around the National Poetry Slam but wasn't that familiar with his work. The VanSlam (Vancouver, British Columbia) has a reputation for great poets - Ms. Spelt, Shane Koyczan, Barbara Alder - and sending great teams to the (U.S.) National Poetry Slam. They also have a rep for being somewhat ... quirky. As one of the heads of VanSlam, R.C. Weslowski certainly demonstrates that trait in his work. Being with Azami at NPS 2010, I was certainly more attentive to the Canadian teams that year.

At the Group Poem Slam, I first saw this poem (video below) and was blown away.

Brilliant.

Combined with seeing R.C. Weslowski at several other events at NPS 2010 made me come to love him as one of favorite performers on the national level.

The best way I can describe it is that it feels like it was written in the vein of Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" though more mainstream linguistically or an experiment in alternate history done in poetic form. (Alternate history is a sci-fi concept that postulates, for example, Julius Caesar avoiding his assassination in 44 B.C.E., Robert E. Lee wining at Gettysburg in 1863, young Adolf Hitler dying in the trenches in World War I).

I.e., imagine that the evolution of the English language diverged at some point so the thematic elements of the poetic ideas are the same, but the vocabulary has diverged slightly.
"before the let-go and slippage into forging"; "the talk-me-down"; "me boom-boom" instead of "my heart"; "any-be" instead of "anyway," and the titular "beauty ba-bo," etc.

If you listen to the poem line by line, it's fairly obvious how R.C. Weslowski chose how to write the poem - not to say it was easy to write by any means - but listening at regular speed with his cadence and performance style, it almost feels like tasting this alternate history.

The style reminds me of how 2001 FlagSlam alum Andrew Clark Hall, Ph.D., would write. I mean, Hall was so brilliant he once wrote and slammed a poem written in Middle English for fucksake.


The same solo poem converted into a five-person group poem by the Vancouver Slam Team in 2010. Coincidentally, I'm the fellow in the cowboy hat seated two or three rows in front of the person who shot this team video.



R.C. Weslowski has been a clown mouth full of bologna in the Vancouver poetry scene since 1998. As a performer R.C. Weslowski is a five-time member of the Vancouver Poetry Slam Team and has performed at Festival across Canada, including:
 The Calgary International Poetry Festival, The Winnipeg Writer’s Festival, The Saskatchewan Festival of Words, The Vancouver Folk Festival, The Vancouver Storytelling Fesival, Music West, The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word.

R.C. Weslowski has also performed his poetry on the Eiffel Tower while snorting the remains of Orson Welles and along the Rhine River in Germany while debating Schopenhauer with a schnauser.

As an event organizer R.C. Weslowski was the artistic director for the 2005 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and the publicity coordinator for the 2007 Individual World Poetry Slam. R.C. Weslowski is the current president of Vancouver Poetry House and he is one of the main people making the Vancouver Poetry Slam run.

The VPS is Canada’s longest running poetry slam, now in its 11th year. He is also on the board of the Spoken Word Arts Network.

But aside from all that he will literally blow your brain apart and put it back together again using nothing but his voice. Seriously.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Get your tickets now for the July 30th Sedona Poetry Slam

Photos courtesy of Tara Graeber
The Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team, Taylor Marie
Kayonnie-Ehrlich, from left, nodalone, Valence and Maple
Dewleaf, will perform at the Sedona Poetry Slam on
Saturday, July 30.
Flagstaff poets feature at Sedona Poetry Slam on July 30

Sedona’s Studio Live hosts a poetry slam Saturday, July 30, starting at 7:30 p.m. featuring the four members of the Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team.

The slam follows on the heels of the recent premiere of the documentary poetry film “Louder Than a Bomb,” offering Sedona audiences a live poetry slam to watch, judge or even compete in.

The four-poet team will share the stage with some of the Southwest's top poets pouring out their words in an explosion of expression.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $50 grand prize.

----- The poets of the Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team -----

nodalone
Originally from East Lansing, Mich., Shaun Srivastava, aka nodalone, moved to Flagstaff in 2008 to attend Northern Arizona University.

While quietly writing poetry for many years, nodalone has only recently begun performing his spoken word at slams and various events throughout Arizona.

Preferring to use his platform to address current political, cultural, and social issues, the poet gives a performance that captures the power of the issue in a personal and passionate style.

He will complete degrees in both exercise science and psychology in 2012, with plans to pursue a master’s degree in psychology.

Maple Dewleaf
Born of the smoggy heart of Texas the youngest brother of five to a single mother, Maple Dewleaf was brought into this world a free spirit. As a child he would spend most of his time barefoot and in the forests of Northern Arizona. To this day Huckleberry Finn remains his biggest hero.

He became a significant member of Flagstaff’s poetry slam at the age of 16 while experiencing a slight case of house arrest fever. Having first hitched a ride at the age of 13, swears to this day the best way to catch a ride is to look very undetermined but still focused on something just over the horizon of view.

Dewleaf has worked as a grocery bagger, fence painter, fast-food cook, fry-cook, door installer, the wise hippie janitor of a truck stop, and various street side attractions including musician with classically trained vocals, alleyway poet, psychedelic amusement and $5 dare-taker extraordinaire.

At the ripe old age of almost 20 years, he was given the greatest gift he ever received: Wildflower Clementine, his beautiful daughter. Most days Maple can be found meditating with his gorgeous wife, whom he would crawl hands and knees through barrel cactuses for: Patches Dewleaf and little baby Wildflower, in the hidden woods of Anywhere, America.

Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich
Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. Fifteen years later she started spitting poems at Flagslam.

The first time she slammed, she shook like a leaf, but now she commands the audience.

Now at 18, she is staring into a world of open doors, not sure of which ones to walk through.

She believes that life is all about fun and happiness, and we must learn to make it just that.

Like a child, she’s constantly curious and eager to see what life’s all about, and eager to find out.

Writing is one of the many ways she expresses her audacity for life. Performing her poetry for three years now, she believes that slam poetry isn’t just a competition, but a tool, one to be heard.

Valence
Tyler Sirvinskas, aka Valence, is a poet among other things.
Valence has been a slam poet since 2010 and new to the format of slam, but not to the art of writing.

After living 14 years in Chicago, he has spent six years and counting in Arizona.

----- To slam -----
To compete in the slam, poets need at least three original poems, each three minutes long or shorter. No props, costumes or musical accompaniment are permitted. All types of poetry are welcome.
The slam will be hosted by Sedona poet Christopher Fox Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on the Flagstaff team at five National Poetry Slams between 2001 and 2010.
Founded in Chicago in 1984, poetry slam is a competitive artistic sport. Poetry slams are judged by five randomly chosen members of the audience who assign numerical value to individual poets’ contents and performances.
The Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team, Taylor
Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich, from left, nodalone, Maple
Dewleaf and Valence, will perform at the Sedona
Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30.
Poetry slam has become an international artistic sport, with more than 100 major poetry slams in the United States, Canada, Australia and Western Europe.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event, available at Golden Word Books and Music, 3150 W. SR 89A, and online at studiolivesedona.com.
The team will also have its new 28-page chapbook "Gossamer Outrage" available. All proceeds from ticket and chapbook sales help the 2011 team - Northern Arizona's 10th – fund its trip to Boston to represent our region of the state against 71 other teams at the National Poetry Slam in August.
Studio Live is located at 215 Coffee Pot Drive, West Sedona.
For more information, call (928) 282-2688 or visit http://studiolivesedona.com.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

nodalone: biopic of the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam Team

nodalone
Originally from East Lansing, Mich., Shaun Srivastava, aka nodalone, moved to Flagstaff in 2008 to attend Northern Arizona University.

While quietly writing poetry for many years, nodalone has only recently begun performing his spoken word at slams and various events throughout Arizona.

Preferring to use his platform to address current political, cultural, and social issues, the poet gives a performance that captures the power of the issue in a personal and passionate style.

He will complete degrees in both exercise science and psychology in 2012, with plans to pursue a master’s degree in psychology.


Video by Tara Graeber



FlagSlam poet nodalone features at Sedona Poetry Slam on July 30

Sedona’s Studio Live hosts a poetry slam Saturday, July 30, starting at 7:30 p.m. featuring the four members of the Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team.

The slam follows on the heels of the recent premiere of the documentary poetry film “Louder Than a Bomb,” offering Sedona audiences a live poetry slam to watch, judge or even compete in.

The four-poet team will share the stage with some of the Southwest's top poets pouring out their words in an explosion of expression.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $50 grand prize.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event, available at Golden Word Books and Music, 3150 W. SR 89A, and online at studiolivesedona.com.
The team will also have its new 28-page chapbook "Gossamer Outrage" available. All proceeds from ticket and chapbook sales help the 2011 team - Northern Arizona's 10th – fund its trip to Boston to represent our region of the state against 71 other teams at the National Poetry Slam in August.
Studio Live is located at 215 Coffee Pot Drive, West Sedona.
For more information, call (928) 282-2688 or visit http://studiolivesedona.com.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

poets mourn the loss of beautiful David Alan Blair


Blair performs "Behind the Garage" at TEDxDetroit

David Blair
Sept. 19, 1967 -- July 23, 2011
David Alan Blair “Blair”, age 43, born Sept. 19, 1967, passed away Saturday, July 23. David grew up in Newton, N.J., but came to call Detroit his adopted home. He is the son of Hildegard Blair and Herbert Blair.

Blair was an award-winning, multi-faceted artist: poet, singer-songwriter, writer, performer, musician, community activist and teacher. In the words of Metro Times journalist Melissa Giannini, “Blair focused his work on the hope that rises from the ashes of despair.”

A 2010 Callaloo Fellow and a National Poetry Slam Champion, his first book of poetry, Moonwalking, was recently released by Penmanship Books. Blair, as a solo artist, and with The Urban Folk Collective, self-released more than seven records in the last ten years. His most recent album, The Line, with his band The Boyfriends, was released in 2010 on Repeatable Silence Records.

Throughout his life, Blair performed at venues, large and small, across the nation and around the world. He was nominated for seven Detroit Music Awards, including a 2007 nod for Outstanding Acoustic Artist. He was named Real Detroit Weekly Readers Poll’s Best Solo Artist and The Metro Times Best Urban Folk Poet. In 2007, he won the Seattle-based BENT Writing Institute Mentor Award.


Blair performing "Little Richard Penniman Tells It Like It T-I-S" on the steps of the Motown Museum - Detroit Shot By Matt Wisotsky Edited By Jeff Cenkner

As well as being the recipient of numerous awards, he taught classes and lectured on poetry and music in Detroit Public Schools, The Ruth Ellis Center, Hannan House Senior Center, the YMCA of Detroit, and at various universities, colleges and high schools across the country.

Blair has friends and fans on almost every continent. He will be greatly missed by the loved ones he left all too early. He is preceded in death by his father, Herbert Blair. He is survived by his mother, Hildegard (Smith), siblings Herbert Blair (who resides in Pennsylvania), Tony Blair (New Jersey), Walter Blair (Florida), Joy Blair Swinson (New Hampshire) and many nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles.

And every raindrop falling from the sky
is like a tribute to the blue skies following behind,
And every raindrop falling to the sea
is like a testament to a new life that will come to be.
~Blair

(from the song “Every Raindrop”)

The David Blair Memorial Fund has been set up to help defray the costs of his memorial service. Donate here. Any funds raised beyond these immediate expenses will be used to create a fund in his honor for Detroit artists in need of healthcare. More information on David Blair’s memorial can be found at www.dblair.org.


Blair performs "My name is Karl" at Seattle Poetry Slam

I met Blair in Detroit when I, Josh Fleming, david f. escobedo, and Keith Bruecker were on the Save the Male Tour in 2001. He was awesome host, a sweetheart, and an all-around good man. To me, Detroit has always felt like a warm city due to Blair and his crew.

I returned his hospitality a few years later when Blair and his band, Blair and the Boyfriends, came through Flagstaff and Sedona in 2009, performing at FlagSlam at The Mad Italian. I can still remember him across the table with me and his band eating pizza at The Hideaway in Sedona. He had a great laugh and such positivity in the air around him.


Blair performs "Detroit"

Do him one last honor and watch him perform one his poems.
He will be missed.

Fa Una Canzone
Fa una canzone senza note nere
se mai bramasti la mia grazia havere.
Falla d'un tuonó ch'invita al dormire,
dolcemente, dolcemente facendo la finire.

(Sing me a Song
Write a song with no black notes
if you ever wanted my favor.
Write it so that it will bring me to sleep,
make it end sweetly, sweetly.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Valence: member of the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam Team

Valence
Tyler Sirvinskas, aka Valence, is a poet among other things.
Valence has been a slam poet since 2010 and new to the format of slam, but not to the art of writing.

After living 14 years in Chicago, he has spent six years and counting in Arizona.
 
"Ordinary as Mountaintops"
by Valence
from the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam team chapbook "Gossamer Outrage"

Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber 
 Valence will perform at the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday,
July 30.
People are icebergs … only a fraction of us is visible.
And there’s nothing I wouldn’t give to see beneath the surface,
but I’m accepting the fact I’ll have to ask you what it looks like —
I’m an unreliable narrator too, so I won’t hold it against you
when you don’t give yourself enough credit
If your only regret is that you didn’t start diving,
climbing those underwater mountains sooner, then I’d say
you’re the kinda sinner that makes saints look impossible
beautiful sinners all bound to bear weight alone
the lining of your heart may be stone, and precious beyond measure
so remember it isn’t just saline coming out of your tear ducts
it is mountain spring runoff
your tears melt from ice
and give life to the soil
so continue drying your eyes
you have the kind of hands that could grow beautiful roses
makes me wish I was your first rose …
to know you like your mother did,
to know you like your firstborn.

I wish I’d been your imaginary friend,
your last greatest loss collecting dust
but I’m only a man and I don’t have that power
to see and feel your life as if it were ours
but I’m trying to climb.
I wanna know how you managed a head in the clouds
but your roots like a mountain so deep underground
I wanna breathe the thin air up there
where you see the world from,
because life is a climb and we haven’t got long
it is only to the hearts of our friends that we hold on
please call me your friend, so when it’s all said and done
I know I’ll live on,
it will show in the soft purple stripes on your roses
grown with mountain spring runoff.

We remember our loved ones for the places they take us
when we see from that clifftop through their favorite angle
That’s why I grow roses, to color the landscape
that absent hands led me to once, in the past

and I know I never said, but my first stargaze after we met
I fancied the night sky just some strange arrangement
that the asteroid belt was only god’s theremin.
It sings to us now in the form of a sunset.
Copyright 2011 © Valence Tyler Sirvinskas






FlagSlam poet Valence features at Sedona Poetry Slam on July 30

Sedona’s Studio Live hosts a poetry slam Saturday, July 30, starting at 7:30 p.m. featuring the four members of the Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team.

The slam follows on the heels of the recent premiere of the documentary poetry film “Louder Than a Bomb,” offering Sedona audiences a live poetry slam to watch, judge or even compete in.

The four-poet team will share the stage with some of the Southwest's top poets pouring out their words in an explosion of expression.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $50 grand prize.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event, available at Golden Word Books and Music, 3150 W. SR 89A, and online at studiolivesedona.com.
The team will also have its new 28-page chapbook "Gossamer Outrage" available. All proceeds from ticket and chapbook sales help the 2011 team - Northern Arizona's 10th – fund its trip to Boston to represent our region of the state against 71 other teams at the National Poetry Slam in August.
Studio Live is located at 215 Coffee Pot Drive, West Sedona.
For more information, call (928) 282-2688 or visit http://studiolivesedona.com.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich: member of the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam Team

Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich
Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber 
Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich will perform at the Sedona
Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30.
Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. Fifteen years later she started spitting poems at FlagSlam. The first time she slammed, she shook like a leaf, but now she commands the audience.

Now at 18, she is staring into a world of open doors, not sure of which ones to walk through. She believes that life is all about fun and happiness, and we must learn to make it just that.

Like a child, she’s constantly curious and eager to see what life’s all about, and eager to find out. Writing is one of the many ways she expresses her audacity for life. Performing her poetry for three years now, she believes that slam poetry isn’t just a competition, but a tool, one to be heard.



Video by Tara Graeber

"Set Me Free"
by Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich 
from the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam team chapbook "Gossamer Outrage"



I want a man,
Who knows the difference between a bitch and a woman …
Who knows that if he ever tried to treat this woman like a bitch he wouldn’t have a female dog on his hands,
He’d have a psycho killer,
BOY I ain’t no dog,
Don’t let my age fool you,
’cuz I ain’t no little girl,
I am a woman,
And I shall be treated like it,
’cuz boy,
I got my eyes set to kill,
And I’m hunting for my thrill,
Enjoying my free will,
I won’t take your bullshit just ’cuz you’re handing it out like candy,
’cuz yea, I gotta sweet tooth,
But your shit’s sugar-free,
Baby, I want someone naturally sweet,
None of that fake shit for me,
’cuz I’m beyond fed up dealing with your childlike tendencies,
Treating drama like your drug of choice,
It’s like Ritalin to your ADD,
You gotta constant twitch for that fix,
But drama for me,
Is like an old nasty habit I kicked,
I wanna kick you,
Like an old nasty habit,
’cuz I’m tired of playing with these boys,
I’m getting bored of these games,
Like board games,
You’re repetitive and easy,
And really not that much fun to play with,
So give me a man,
Who’d treat me like his job, and get down to business,
Who’d work me the right way as if he was getting paid,
Who’d push all the right buttons like memorizing my phone number,
No speed dialing,
Who could use his tools,
Who could aim with his gun pull the trigger and BANG!
Kinda like cupid’s arrow but a little more forceful,
Who knows how to smoothly touch you,
Like waves washing up on a shore,
Who doesn’t just try to grab you like a kid in a candy store,
I want more.
I want the puzzle pieces to fit together perfectly,
Don’t try to shove ’em if they don’t work,
Treat my body like a wet dream,
Don’t you dare wake up from me,
I wanna be your sanctuary,
Like a black
congregation
singing gospels,
Shout “Hallelujah!”
Treat my lips,
Like precious
Flagstaff tap water after living in Nigeria for a year,
Sip it.
Enjoy it.
I want you to listen to me because if my lips are precious, then so are my words,
Baby hear me roar!
And you are man,
So roar louder!
’til your lungs give out,
And when we can’t speak anymore we’ll talk with our bodies,
I want to be treated like your favorite swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated,
“Please, don’t bend the pages”
Not like a Tonka truck,
Don’t just try to drive me,
’cuz we’re all born into this life running in first place,
’cuz it’s race to the end,
Or a march to the death,
But no one even stops to look at the scenery anymore,
I want my scenery,
’cuz it’s a long journey,
So please,
All you boys of the world understand,
It’s nothing personal,
I’m just not the type to give in,
’cuz I’d rather be eased into it,
’cuz I keep my hurricane of a soul locked behind my fierce eyes,
I keep my lightning bolt of a heart chained up in my rib cage,
I’ve been longing to be set free,
Set me free,
But all you boys do is put in the key,
I need a man,
Who can turn it,
And open the door,
Set me free.

Copyright 2011 © Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich







FlagSlam poet Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich features at Sedona Poetry Slam on July 30


Sedona’s Studio Live hosts a poetry slam Saturday, July 30, starting at 7:30 p.m. featuring the four members of the Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team.

The slam follows on the heels of the recent premiere of the documentary poetry film “Louder Than a Bomb,” offering Sedona audiences a live poetry slam to watch, judge or even compete in.

The four-poet team will share the stage with some of the Southwest's top poets pouring out their words in an explosion of expression.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $50 grand prize.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event, available at Golden Word Books and Music, 3150 W. SR 89A, and online at studiolivesedona.com.
The team will also have its new 28-page chapbook "Gossamer Outrage" available. All proceeds from ticket and chapbook sales help the 2011 team - Northern Arizona's 10th – fund its trip to Boston to represent our region of the state against 71 other teams at the National Poetry Slam in August.
Studio Live is located at 215 Coffee Pot Drive, West Sedona.
For more information, call (928) 282-2688 or visit http://studiolivesedona.com.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Maple Dewleaf: member of the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam Team

Maple Dewleaf
Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber 
Maple Dewleaf will perform at the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday,
July 30.
Born of the smoggy heart of Texas the youngest brother of five to a single mother, Maple Dewleaf was brought into this world a free spirit. As a child he would spend most of his time barefoot and in the forests of Northern Arizona. To this day Huckleberry Finn remains his biggest hero.


He became a significant member of Flagstaff’s poetry slam at the age of 16 while experiencing a slight case of house arrest fever. Having first hitched a ride at the age of 13, swears to this day the best way to catch a ride is to look very undetermined but still focused on something just over the horizon of view.


Dewleaf has worked as a grocery bagger, fence painter, fast-food cook, fry-cook, door installer, the wise hippie janitor of a truck stop, and various street side attractions including musician with classically trained vocals, alleyway poet, psychedelic amusement and $5 dare-taker extraordinaire.


At the ripe old age of almost 20 years, he was given the greatest gift he ever received: Wildflower Clementine, his beautiful daughter. Most days Maple can be found meditating with his gorgeous wife, whom he would crawl hands and knees through barrel cactuses for: Patches Dewleaf and little baby Wildflower, in the hidden woods of Anywhere, America.


Video by Christopher Fox Graham

"Alarm Clock Improbable"
by Maple Dewleaf
from the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam team chapbook "Gossamer Outrage"



Beep, beep, beep!
Shut up!
Beep, beep, beep!
Shut up!

Suddenly the inertia of my mind’s willingness to wake,
And the gravitational pull of my arm to the snooze button
Give me an increment in time just long enough to contemplate
Life, death, breakfast, and

Beep, beep, beep!

Inertia down gravity up
In a whip smash
My clock at the wall
With the
Same swift motion my body out of bed
And making my blankets fall
And I believe that this is when things begin to gravitate
To the space beneath my couch cushions

I am as you are
Due to a series of imaginary rules
Isaac Newton’s puppet
Look at me dance
Look at us dance
Look at my pen scratch across air
Like a dagger to butter

I’m composing a masterpiece in a language
You don’t understand
On stationery you cannot perceive
It’s not even stationary
It’s moving in every direction all the time
And I have to wipe off the residue
Of yours and a million different brains
Just to communicate this to you

All things are one, right
So I see that green light
Therefore that green light, is a constant wall
From source to destination
I look at you looking at me and we are one,
This much is true to everyone we see
You laugh
Alright,
You say; “if that we’re true I could manifest a smoke right now”
You can,
You merely do not comprehend how to do so
I, however, have been cut from Isaac Newton’s strings
Now fathom that I am currently
Kicking your ass, as you are mine,
And holding each other,
Like fruit to vine
But in that we are doing all, all the time
All=1
You can’t win or loose
Now if you can see this
Cut off Newton’s strings forming noose
Around your perception
And simple accept the improbable

Copyright 2011 © Maple Dewleaf Nic Griffin




FlagSlam poet Maple Dewleaf features at Sedona Poetry Slam on July 30

Sedona’s Studio Live hosts a poetry slam Saturday, July 30, starting at 7:30 p.m. featuring the four members of the Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team.

The slam follows on the heels of the recent premiere of the documentary poetry film “Louder Than a Bomb,” offering Sedona audiences a live poetry slam to watch, judge or even compete in.

The four-poet team will share the stage with some of the Southwest's top poets pouring out their words in an explosion of expression.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $50 grand prize.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event, available at Golden Word Books and Music, 3150 W. SR 89A, and online at studiolivesedona.com.
The team will also have its new 28-page chapbook "Gossamer Outrage" available. All proceeds from ticket and chapbook sales help the 2011 team - Northern Arizona's 10th – fund its trip to Boston to represent our region of the state against 71 other teams at the National Poetry Slam in August.
Studio Live is located at 215 Coffee Pot Drive, West Sedona.
For more information, call (928) 282-2688 or visit http://studiolivesedona.com.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

nodalone: member of the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam Team

nodalone
Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber
nodalone will perform at the Sedona Poetry
Slam on Saturday, July 30.
Originally from East Lansing, Mich., Shaun Srivastava, aka nodalone, moved to Flagstaff in 2008 to attend Northern Arizona University.

While quietly writing poetry for many years, nodalone has only recently begun performing his spoken word at slams and various events throughout Arizona.

Preferring to use his platform to address current political, cultural, and social issues, the poet gives a performance that captures the power of the issue in a personal and passionate style.

He will complete degrees in both exercise science and psychology in 2012, with plans to pursue a master’s degree in psychology.


Video by Tara Graeber

"Line in the Sands"
by nodalone 
from the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam team chapbook "Gossamer Outrage"


At this very moment
in this great state of Arizona
we have congressmen sipping brandy
out of crystal clear snifters with white supremacists
up in Kingman
correlating Mexicans with empty bunk beds
in private prisons that haven’t even been built yet

laughing amongst themselves
comparing the thread counts in their satin sheet disguise
while their allegedly more educated children size up
ivory husk flecked business cards on wall street
and strategize
on how to sell credit default swaps and derivatives
and scams as grand as Egyptian pyramids
trying to tell college kids
staying up all night searching for scholarships
that the “American Dream”
is still alive
even though we can’t seem to escape the fact that it reeks
of formaldehyde

all while the powers that be perpetrate “patriotic ideas”
like repealing the 14th Amendment
to better protect the American public
from the imminent tidal wave
of little brown “anchor babies” and such nasty liberal tactics
as the “Dream Act” that they fancy to frame in a Pandora’s Box called amnesty

so what does one power broker of cultural purity say to the other?
“oh. I know,
we’ll call it SB 1070”
better get your papers, please
matter of fact I think this is a fake ID
step outta the car, Pedro, and get down on your fucking knees
start praying to that blond-haired
blue-eyed Jesus the same way
Governor Jan Brewer does every night before she slips off into her sweet slumber
resting comfortably on her California King sleep number
tallying migrant worker fatalities like counting sheep
before they’re sent off to slaughter

it’s time to tell our “glorious” war hero of a senator
that this country will not be reduced to Berlin
in the mid 1980s
metal walls and electric fences need only be reserved for cattle in this country
you would think that John McCain would be able to better understand
what it means
to be wrongfully imprisoned
simply for crashing in another man’s land

what was that he said again?
“finish the dang fence already?”
desperately pandering to
hypermedicated
understimulated
overweight
postmenopausal baby boomer blank faces
hiding behind the thick irony of straw gardening hats used to lynch Lipton tea bags
who can’t even navigate their way through a subway to order a ham sandwich

so who you gonna stand with?
NPG Cable and Cox Communications don’t collectively control enough
bandwidth
and there are not enough like-minded activists in this great state
to halt the implementation
of this blatantly racist legislative injustice

how much longer must we wait?
until we see Sheriff Joe Arpaio
dressed in standard-issue
Maricopa County pink jumpsuits sporting
stainless steel shackles enraged
developing strain polyps encaged
behind miles and miles of 20-foot tall chain-link fences

why don’t we just erase the border altogether
and sever the umbilical cord that is funneling federal funding
to that double-wide tractor trailer mechanical combine
of ignorance and hate
that is raping lady liberty and get back to
what that statue on Ellis Island really means

to be that faint glimmer at the end of the tunnel
for those families willing to risk their lives
so their children can grow up to one day realize
that opportunity
is more than that just an abstract term in the middle of an English dictionary

so why does it seem so quiet?
you should be rocking back and forth red in the face and screaming
hell, you’re already on top of the mountain
why don’t you go home and
Google Jim Crow and
come back next week and start shouting

because you see the truth is
history …
is gonna judge our generation
not by what we believed in,
but by what we didn’t.

Copyright 2011 © nodalone Shaun Srivastava



FlagSlam poet nodalone features at Sedona Poetry Slam on July 30

Sedona’s Studio Live hosts a poetry slam Saturday, July 30, starting at 7:30 p.m. featuring the four members of the Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team.

The slam follows on the heels of the recent premiere of the documentary poetry film “Louder Than a Bomb,” offering Sedona audiences a live poetry slam to watch, judge or even compete in.

The four-poet team will share the stage with some of the Southwest's top poets pouring out their words in an explosion of expression.


All poets are welcome to compete for the $50 grand prize.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event, available at Golden Word Books and Music, 3150 W. SR 89A, and online at studiolivesedona.com.
The team will also have its new 28-page chapbook "Gossamer Outrage" available. All proceeds from ticket and chapbook sales help the 2011 team - Northern Arizona's 10th – fund its trip to Boston to represent our region of the state against 71 other teams at the National Poetry Slam in August.
Studio Live is located at 215 Coffee Pot Drive, West Sedona.
For more information, call (928) 282-2688 or visit http://studiolivesedona.com.

Friday, July 22, 2011

"The March Into Virginia, Ending in the First Manassas" by Herman Melville

Poetry for the American Civil War Sesquicentennial 

"The March Into Virginia, Ending in the First Manassas"
by Herman Melville, July 1861


Herman Melville in 1861. Photo courtesy of Rodney
Dewey
Did all the lets and bars appear
To every just or larger end,
Whence should come the trust and cheer?
Youth must its ignorant impulse lend--
Age finds place in the rear.
All wars are boyish, and are fought by boys,
The champions and enthusiasts of the state:
Turbid ardors and vain joys
Not barrenly abate--
Stimulants to the power mature,
Preparatives of fate.

Who here forecasteth the event?
What heart but spurns at precedent
And warnings of the wise,
Contemned foreclosures of surprise?
The banners play, the bugles call,
The air is blue and prodigal.
No berrying party, pleasure-wooed,
No picnic party in the May,
Ever went less loth than they
Into that leafy neighborhood.
In Bacchic glee they file toward Fate,
Moloch's uninitiate;
Expectancy, and glad surmise
Of battle's unknown mysteries.
All they feel is this: 't is glory,
A rapture sharp, though transitory,
Yet lasting in belaureled story.
So they gayly go to fight,
Chatting left and laughing right.

But some who this blithe mood present,
As on in lightsome files they fare,
Shall die experienced ere three days are spent--
Perish, enlightened by the vollied glare;
Or shame survive, and, like to adamant,
The throe of Second Manassas share.

First Battle of Bull Run (Union name) 
aka First Battle of Manassas (Confederate name)
July 21, 1861
This was the first major land battle of the armies in Virginia.

On July 16, 1861, the untried Union army under Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell marched from Washington against the equally green Confederate army, which was arrayed behind Bull Run beyond Centreville.

On July 21, McDowell crossed at Sudley Ford and attacked the Confederate left flank on Matthews Hill. Fighting raged throughout the day as Confederate forces were driven back to Henry Hill.  Late in the afternoon, Confederate reinforcements (one brigade arriving by rail from the Shenandoah Valley) extended and broke the Union right flank.

The Federal retreat rapidly deteriorated into a rout. Although victorious, Confederate forces were too disorganized to pursue. Confederate Gen. Bee and Col. Bartow were killed.

Confederate Thomas J. Jackson earned the nom de guerre “Stonewall.” By July 22, the shattered Union army reached the safety of Washington. This battle convinced the Lincoln administration that the war would be a long and costly affair. McDowell was relieved of command of the Union army and replaced by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who set about reorganizing and training the troops.

For more maps, history articles and additional information on this and other Civil War battles visit the Civil War Trust website.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Flagstaff poets feature at Sedona Poetry Slam on July 30

Photos courtesy of Tara Graeber
The Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team, Taylor Marie
Kayonnie-Ehrlich, from left, nodalone, Valence and Maple
Dewleaf, will perform at the Sedona Poetry Slam on
Saturday, July 30.
Flagstaff poets feature at Sedona Poetry Slam on July 30

Sedona’s Studio Live hosts a poetry slam Saturday, July 30, starting at 7:30 p.m. featuring the four members of the Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team.

The slam follows on the heels of the recent premiere of the documentary poetry film “Louder Than a Bomb,” offering Sedona audiences a live poetry slam to watch, judge or even compete in.

The four-poet team will share the stage with some of the Southwest's top poets pouring out their words in an explosion of expression.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $50 grand prize.

----- The poets of the Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team -----

nodalone
Originally from East Lansing, Mich., Shaun Srivastava, aka nodalone, moved to Flagstaff in 2008 to attend Northern Arizona University.

While quietly writing poetry for many years, nodalone has only recently begun performing his spoken word at slams and various events throughout Arizona.

Preferring to use his platform to address current political, cultural, and social issues, the poet gives a performance that captures the power of the issue in a personal and passionate style.

He will complete degrees in both exercise science and psychology in 2012, with plans to pursue a master’s degree in psychology.

Maple Dewleaf
Born of the smoggy heart of Texas the youngest brother of five to a single mother, Maple Dewleaf was brought into this world a free spirit. As a child he would spend most of his time barefoot and in the forests of Northern Arizona. To this day Huckleberry Finn remains his biggest hero.

He became a significant member of Flagstaff’s poetry slam at the age of 16 while experiencing a slight case of house arrest fever. Having first hitched a ride at the age of 13, swears to this day the best way to catch a ride is to look very undetermined but still focused on something just over the horizon of view.

Dewleaf has worked as a grocery bagger, fence painter, fast-food cook, fry-cook, door installer, the wise hippie janitor of a truck stop, and various street side attractions including musician with classically trained vocals, alleyway poet, psychedelic amusement and $5 dare-taker extraordinaire.

At the ripe old age of almost 20 years, he was given the greatest gift he ever received: Wildflower Clementine, his beautiful daughter. Most days Maple can be found meditating with his gorgeous wife, whom he would crawl hands and knees through barrel cactuses for: Patches Dewleaf and little baby Wildflower, in the hidden woods of Anywhere, America.

Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich
Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. Fifteen years later she started spitting poems at Flagslam.

The first time she slammed, she shook like a leaf, but now she commands the audience.

Now at 18, she is staring into a world of open doors, not sure of which ones to walk through.

She believes that life is all about fun and happiness, and we must learn to make it just that.

Like a child, she’s constantly curious and eager to see what life’s all about, and eager to find out.

Writing is one of the many ways she expresses her audacity for life. Performing her poetry for three years now, she believes that slam poetry isn’t just a competition, but a tool, one to be heard.

Valence
Tyler Sirvinskas, aka Valence, is a poet among other things.
Valence has been a slam poet since 2010 and new to the format of slam, but not to the art of writing.

After living 14 years in Chicago, he has spent six years and counting in Arizona.

----- To slam -----
To compete in the slam, poets need at least three original poems, each three minutes long or shorter. No props, costumes or musical accompaniment are permitted. All types of poetry are welcome.
The slam will be hosted by Sedona poet Christopher Fox Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on the Flagstaff team at five National Poetry Slams between 2001 and 2010.
Founded in Chicago in 1984, poetry slam is a competitive artistic sport. Poetry slams are judged by five randomly chosen members of the audience who assign numerical value to individual poets’ contents and performances.
The Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team, Taylor
Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich, from left, nodalone, Maple
Dewleaf and Valence, will perform at the Sedona
Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30.
Poetry slam has become an international artistic sport, with more than 100 major poetry slams in the United States, Canada, Australia and Western Europe.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event, available at Golden Word Books and Music, 3150 W. SR 89A, and online at studiolivesedona.com.
The team will also have its new 28-page chapbook "Gossamer Outrage" available. All proceeds from ticket and chapbook sales help the 2011 team - Northern Arizona's 10th – fund its trip to Boston to represent our region of the state against 71 other teams at the National Poetry Slam in August.
Studio Live is located at 215 Coffee Pot Drive, West Sedona.
For more information, call (928) 282-2688 or visit http://studiolivesedona.com.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I Can't Find Home

searching for home
somewhere at the end of this road
past the pulloffs
where asphalt turns to gravel
it's waiting
an open door
breezes through the windows

she's waiting on the sofa
reading leather-bound brilliance
heavy in weighty words
naked phrases stripped of pretensions
Aristophanes or Twain
Chomsky or Churchill
penciling notes in the margins
waiting for me to arrive
so we can discuss their meanings
over sandwiches or leftovers

but this road curves onward
I've misplaced the address
forgotten the landmarks
in my absence, she built a new mailbox
and forgot to inform me
so I keep moving,
shifting gears from second to third to fourth
take a wayward left at the pine trees
U-turn out of cul-de-sacs
drive slow past open windows
wondering if she'll wander past,
peeling the day's clothes over sore shoulders
aching for my warm hands

palms hollowed, craving her soles
pressing thumbs into toepads
circling, circling, circling the day away
while she reads me her favorite passages
something disproving omnipotence
the fragility of governments
the empires of men fading into dust
as though they never saw the end coming
thought how of all the civilizations
rising, conquering, declining, collapsing
they would somehow survive
the march of time

this road may be the one
I remember willow trees, somehow
the drops of leftover rain from leafy fingertips
the splash on windshield glass
wet fireworks beckoning my arrival
like a king come home from crusade
but none of the houses look familiar
the breeze smells unfamiliar
we've never walked these sidewalks after sunset
that, that I would remember

she makes a cup of tea
empties the French press
puts away my cup
I'll be too late
for caffeine tonight
she checks the kitchen clock
gazes once more out the window
for a pair of pickup truck headlights pulling in
walks barefoot down the hall
strips shirt from torso
jeans from hips,
and for a moment,
as left-hand heel brushes thigh,
imagines it's mine
removing the denim husk from her skin

night falls and shapes lose their structure
windows and open doors glimmer with
other people's dreams
found homes
lovers encased in embraces
like hers I once remembered
or have yet to feel
keep moving and if I can't find her
if no door looks like home
head back to the rented bedroom
where all my books wait undressed
naked to her gazes
tomorrow I'll try to find home again

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Staring at the Milky Way With One Eye Closed" anew

I'm working on two new chapbooks. Took some self-portraits last night for one poem with I really liked. The new photos and the old poem:

Staring at the Milky Way With One Eye Closed
26 Sept. 2006-15 May 2007

Staring at the Milky Way with one eye closed
details in the clouds of shapes elude pinpointing
the brightest ones egotistically outshine their humble siblings
burning their age-old sociology over distance and time
only now reaching my half-blind awareness

if I lay still for an hour
the whole sky rotates enough for me to feel
the morning hours away
but for now, the night holds sway
that dark Earth below holds its secrets
coyotes yelp in their hide-and-seeks between the lights
marking the miles between irrelevant cities

I haven’t seen shooting stars in months
and the eager sky readily supplies signal flares on the periphery
as if they lamented my absence too

but in the tender brilliance of falling stars
sending goodbyes to satellites
stereoscopic disability flattens everything into two dimensions

denied depth, the hazy constellations stand near enough
to reach out and reorder as if i spilled them on velvet
i reached up with both hands
and gazed at each one through my fingers
and pretended for a moment i was god,
and I remember feeling this childlike before ...

although the days tick by in perfect chronological sequence
the specks above tonight measure the same distance apart as always
and the constellations remain impervious
to our rearrangements, reinterpretations and renamings

you see, I learned all their names once
at the same time I was structuring the proper order of the alphabet
my father, raised in a family too poor to afford telescopes,
would relate the stories of each one as we lay on the roof
cheaper than television
we shared the stars

he explained how geometric shape of hunter, virgin and beast
came to rise from earthly mothers
into Greek mythology
and into the heavenly bodies
we still use to find our way home

what stories he had heard at the same age I was
and remembered until he had a son
and which ones he manufactured at the moment
to keep my childish attention skyward
I’m still uncertain because I lost him years ago

but taken from this soil
and raised into the cosmos for a night
I sailed on the satellite of his voice into the exosphere
as he surreptitiously showed me
how all science fiction writers
came to dream their space opera epics

you see, their fathers instilled in them
the dream of sailing between

the Dark Side

and the Light

but the distance between stars is not measured in parsecs
but in the imagination of a boy thinking his father is godlike
because if you tilt your head ... just so
and remember that even angels
paint connect-the-dots pictures
the clump to the right in the shape of an arrow
with the semi-circle that arcs out from the side
really does look like a hunter
if you believe the man who tells you it does
and when he asks
if you can see it
for the first time in your young life
the way you see the world actually matters to someone
because it means he’s doing the right thing

“Yes, dad, I see the hunter,
he chases through the clouds and gases hiding in the shadows and staying downwind of his prey.
You can tell by the way the Milky Way is drifting to the Southwest tonight”

and in the stars I had my father
he told me the stories of the placement
and calculated the precise mathematics:
“These two stars will always be the distance between two fingers.”
“That constellation is always the breadth of one palm,
if you stretch out your thumb to touch that star first.”

the measurements in the heavens never change
because they give us a path home
despite the distance we grow from it
I wish I had known that then,
because I would have told that boy
to place his father somewhere in the heavens
so that he would forever know
the number of steps it takes to find him
but this rotating world
hides the stars behind the sun for half a day
and in the daylight
my father found a place to hide from me
so now I can’t even find him in the night

I still have the stars and the stories
but the man who taught them to me
disappeared into them both
so never ask me again why I don’t believe in God
look to the stars,
find him,
sketch out what points define his shape
and point him out to a boy still on a rooftop
tell him you can see god
in the geometry of random placement
because to me, today
those shape are just specks
I know anyone can rename the constellations
the measurements above never change
but we don’t learn from their loyalty
how to live
so if you find a man who looks like me
with twenty more revolutions on his face
lying on a rooftop, measuring the distance between stars with his fingers
tell him to stop counting
because the mathematics of the constellations never change
no matter how many satellites we send up to double-check
it’s the people down below who grow apart
and most never find a way back home

but sometimes there are boys
who remember they way fathers could be godlike
when they were too young
and too stupid to know any better

but on some nights like these,
when that boy,
now this poet
gazes skyward with one eye open
he imagines that his father is alongside him
and for a while,
before his vision gets hazy
a certain mass of glowing dots
really does look like a hunter
heading back across the heavens
to teach his son
everything he knows
about hunting stars

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Phoenix Haboob of July 5th, 2011


The Phoenix Haboob of July 5th, 2011 from
A haboob — هبوب in Arabic — is an intense sandstorm commonly observed in arid regions throughout the world.
During thunderstorm formation, winds move in a direction opposite to the storm’s travel, and they will move from all directions into the thunderstorm.
When the storm collapses and begins to release precipitation, wind directions reverse, gusting outward from the storm and generally gusting the strongest in the direction of the storm’s travel.
They have been observed in the Sahara, as well as across the Arabian Peninsula, throughout Kuwait, and in the most arid regions of Iraq.
African haboobs result from the northward summer shift of the inter-tropical front into North Africa, bringing moisture from the Gulf of Guinea. Haboob winds in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and Kuwait are frequently created by the collapse of a thunderstorm.

Mike Olbinski on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Best Birthday Ever

I spent two hours on Skype video chat with Azami last night, me in Arizona, she in British Columbia, at the beginning of her 25th birthday. Best birthday present I've ever been able to give. And I love this photo, a screen shot of her mid-laugh.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Hands are in the Mail

a postal carrier whose name I can never know
carries in a package bound for your doorstep:
my paired hands
ten digits linked across two palms
tied with the ribbon of wrists
holding in blood and sinew

I mailed them to you
they became yours when they brushed your skin
held your jaw steady for these lips --
which I can’t remove
lest I lose the last means to whisper your name –
to first fall into your kiss

swallowed by your hair
they’ve never felt home affixed to my radius and ulna
since they caressed your humerus, femur, metatarsus
they’ve longed to be held aside your sternum
cradle your zygomatic bone as you slumber
massage the day’s strains from muscles held tight
between scapula and clavicle

if you want to commit a felony
use these hands to stain the evidence
wrap them around the murder weapon
the poisoned tumbler
the rifle stock
the claw hammer
as you leave the scene
and they will suffer imprisonment
so you may walk free and unburdened

if you don't want them,
pass them onto a stranger
so wherever he or she may wander
there’s a warm hand on the shoulder
assuring in lonely nights
that someone watches over
come foreclosure, homelessness or widowing
lithe fingertips to soothe weary muscles
a palm in which to place dreams and regrets
when the cancer beats the heart into submission
in the sterility of hospital bedrooms
facing the reaper
every man, woman and child
wants to know they left a final handshake behind
a lasting adieu to the pulse of human history

or give them to a child
so a father figure is never too far
a pair of masculine hands to shoo away boogiemen
applaud even if they miss all the play’s lines
cheer on the winning goal
and should war or workplace strife rob them
of a bearded grandfather to play peek-a-boo
with their own children
these hands I give you
to give them
to hold them tight in their grieving
sit silent shiv’ah in the candlelight
wipe tears from unwashed cheeks

these hands are yours
as they’ve always been
do with them what you will

I hope you keep them in your pack
beneath canteen and Swiss Army knife
folded gently in a journal
and when you find yourself
alone alongside a darkened road
under quiet stars shining as nightlights
for your ease into slumber
I hope you pull them out
feel the warmth I imbued into them
like a pagan incantation
and as crickets wonder from where
the second interloper in their living room
suddenly came from
hold them close like a blanket
let the unselfishness of fingertips
soothe away all your daily aches
let them shelter your weary limbs
keep you warm through the night
the parcel postage finally paid
as you permit me to hold you one last time

Monday, July 4, 2011