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.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The 2012 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam Team

Photo by Tara Graeber
The 2012 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam Team: Ryan Brown, left, Grand Slam Champion Christopher Fox Graham, Shaun "Nodalone" Srivastava and Tara Pollock. Jackson Morris won the alternate's slot.

The 2012 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam Team was decided Sunday, April 29, at Sundara in Flagstaff.

Christopher Fox Graham narrowly edged out SlamMaster Ryan Brown by 0.1 for the Grand Slam Champion title. This will be Graham's sixth team (2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2012) and Brown's fourth (2008, 2009, 2010, 2012).
Coming in tied at third was rookie Tara Pollock (2012) and last year's Grand Slam Champion Shaun "Nodalone" Srivastava (2011, 2012).
Rookie Jackson Morris (2012) will be the team's alternate and coming with us to Charlotte, N.C., for the National Poetry Slam.

The five of us will publish a team chapbook later this summer to help raise funds for the trip. Reserve your copy now ....

Photo by Tara Graeber
The 2012 FlagSlam Grand Slam competitors: Tara Pollock, left, Ryan Brown, Spencer Troth, Christopher Fox Graham, Tyler "Valence" Sirvinskas, Dan Rivera (front), Evan Dissinger (back), Josh Wiss, Victoria Nancy Eakin, Shaun "Nodalone" Srivastava, Vincent Ed-Venture "Vincent Vega" Simone and Jackson Morris.
Congrats to the other Grand Slam finalists Evan Dissinger, Spencer Troth, Victoria (Nancy) Eakin, Tyler "Valence" Sirvinskas, Vincent Vega, Josh Wiss, Dan Rivera who put on a stellar competition.

The 12 of us will be appearing the Poets of FlagSlam 2012-2013 Calendar due out later this year. Reserve your copy now ....

Photo by Tara Graeber

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sean Patrick Mulroy features at the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, May 5

Sean Patrick Mulroy features at the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, May 5

Sedona's Studio Live hosts a poetry slam Saturday, May 5, starting at 7:30 p.m. featuring New York City poet Sean Patrick Mulroy and hosted by Sedona poet Christopher Fox Graham.


All poets are welcome to compete for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. The prize is funded in part by a donation from Verde Valley poetry supporter Jeanne Freeland.

The slam will the sixth and last of the 2011-12 regular season, which has been more moving, more energetic and more intense because this year as poets compete for a slot in Sedona's first National Poetry Slam Team.

After four years of collaborating with the Flagstaff and Phoenix metro area poetry slam scenes, the Sedona scene has the reputation and strength to send its own team to the 2012 National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., in August. The eventual four-poet team will share the stage with 300 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe, pouring out their words in a weeklong explosion of expression.

This is the last slam of the regular season. The next slam will be invitation only and feature the best of the best poets competing for the coveted top four slots plus an alternate.

Sean Patrick Mulroy
A gifted writer and an accomplished performer, Mulroy (aka Sean Patrick Conlon) is a dedicated student of literature and a firm believer in the power of the oral tradition.

Born and raised in Southern Virginia, the house where Mulroy grew up was built in 1801 and was commandeered by the union army during the Civil War to serve as a makeshift hospital.  As a Mulroy, Sean loved to peel back the carpets to show where the blood from hasty surgeries on wounded soldiers had stained the wooden floorboards.  Now he writes poems.

Photo by Penmanship Books
Mulroy is the author of “The Pornography Diaries,” a poetic study of love and sex as seen through the lens of media study and film analysis.  He also stars in a one-man show of the same name, combining original rock music and the poems from the book in a critically acclaimed multimedia tour-de-force.

Mulroy has performed in 10 countries on three continents, participated in 6 national spoken-word competitions, written and recorded three albums of music, and released more than 10 chapbooks of original poetry. He has been published in both online and print journals, and has featured at literary festivals for universities and arts organizations all over the world. He is currently on tour full-time while working on three new manuscripts and a new musical project.

Sedona Poetry 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 May 5 slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on the Flagstaff team at five National Poetry Slams between 2001 and 2010. Contact Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam.

Sedona National Poetry Slam Team
Competing poets earn points with each Sedona Poetry Slam performance between Dec. 3 and Saturday, May 5. Every poet earns 1 point for performing or hosting and 1/2 point for calibrating. First place earns 3 additional points, second place earns 2 and third place earns 1.

Based on points, the top 12 poets in May are eligible to compete for the four slots on the Sedona Poetry Slam Team, which will represent the community and Studio Live at the 2012 National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C.

All poets are eligible in the slamoff except those already confirmed members of or coaching another National Poetry Slam or College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational or Brave New Voices team. Poets can compete for multiple teams during a season and still be eligible to compete in the Sedona team.

For poetry slam standings, videos from past slams, and updates, visit foxthepoet.blogspot.com.


What is Poetry Slam?
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.

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 $7 in advance and $12 the day of the event, available at Golden Word Books and Music, 3150 W. SR 89A, and online at studiolivesedona.com.

Studio Live is located at 215 Coffee Pot Drive, West Sedona. For more information, call (928) 282-2688.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Dear Pluto," by Christopher Fox Graham

Dear Pluto
By Christopher Fox Graham

To the planet formerly known as Pluto,

Though we will never meet
I think I know you
I am a speck of organic matter
standing on the surface of your sister
I am a speck of organic matter
standing on the surface of your sister
my people and I
are converted from ice and dust
electrified into existence
by the mere circumstances
of your sister Earth and nephew Moon
dancing with tide pools
when they were still in their infancy
mere molecules slammed together
and held onto each other in strings
which took billions of years
to mistake themselves in their reproduction
to form this all-too-young boy
sending you this letter
forgive my impetuousness, dear Pluto
but compared to you,
I only have a second
before this organic matter caves in on itself
becomes dust and water to form something new
all I have is my voice
and I beg you to listen
because although we will never meet
I think I know you

I’m not sure if you will receive this letter
In the time it takes to reach you,
I could bounce between here and the sun 16 times
measured on your timescale
my country is not even a year old yet

You’re farther away from the sun
than any of your siblings
and while the rest of those planets circulate in lockstep
in the same elliptical orbit
yours is full of highs and lows
as you rise above the plane
and drop beneath it
because you’re either bipolar
of just refuse to conform
be glad you’ve been able to do it so long
here, those who are different
either by choice or accident
wind up getting bullied, brutalized or crucified
and while I could explain what those words mean
let’s hope that by the time one of us stands on your surface
we’ve forgotten what they mean, too

At Lowell Observatory in the hills overlooking Flagstaff
astronomer Clyde Tombaugh picked you out from the black
he watched you wander at the edge of the solar system
and noted how you keep your distance
from everyone else like you
there are times when people here
believe the sun is so far away they don’t feel warm anymore
and they stare out into the black
and wonder what’s like to just
let go
I know what it feels like to be alone, too
there are times when people here
believe the sun is so far away they don’t feel warm anymore
and they stare out into the black
and wonder what’s like to just let go
I’m glad you’ve stayed with us, dear Pluto
you show us that even when the universe is terrifying cold
there’s some light to hold on to
some reason to keep moving
and even out there you and your moon Chiron
prove you can find love anywhere

since we began to worship stars
we have followed your siblings
the rocky worlds, the gas giants
to us, if they were bigger than an asteroid or moon
and weren’t furnaces like the sun,
they were a planet
deserving the name of a god
an astrological house
and a certain amount of inexplicable reverence
but now because your size doesn’t fit new rules
the International Astronomical Union on my world
has decided you are no longer a planet
you were nine children of a yellow sun
on the rural edge of the galaxy

but now because your size doesn’t fit new rules
the International Astronomical Union on my world
has decided you are no longer a planet
you don’t meet the qualifications anymore
you no longer govern an astrological house
they took you away from you were to us

because some ink on paper said you didn’t matter anymore
they put you a box labeled “dwarf planets” or “Plutoids”
only to be ostracized from your brothers and sisters
by faceless strangers at the stroke of pen

here, we label people too,
segregate them into boxes
based on the color of their skins
or which one of those gods they called out to while dying
or whether they love someone with the same or different parts
or in what way they their throats make noises to communicate
or even by where they were born
as if point of origin means anything
on a planet spinning 1,600 kilometers per second,
where specks like me have wandered to every part of it
tell me, dear Pluto
can you see the borders of our nations from out there?
it seems that’s all we can see down here sometimes
can you tell us apart?
if we one day reach you
dig our fingers into your dirt
would you care about what language we used
to tell each other how beautiful the moment was?

Dear Pluto,
I know what it feels like to be small
I’m still a little boy, too
playing grown-up games
wondering what happens
when there’s nothing left to orbit anymore

Though we will never meet
you don’t have to answer this letter if it ever reaches you
but I think you know me,
I am a tiny voice on your sister Earth
and you are Pluto, the ninth planet of the sun

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Eight-Armed Revenge" by Christopher Fox Graham

"Eight-Armed Revenge"
By Christopher Fox Graham
For Sedona Public Library's Spring/Earth Day Celebration
Inspired by The Klute's poem "Whale War III"

Dear Bipeds,

you are almost at the point of no return
so we’d like to get some things
off our arms

now you mammals
and we cephalopods
have been at war
since the first sperm whale
and giant squid
grappled in the deep
dueling tooth to tentacle

your fishermen hunted our cousins
and our krakens plucked sailors
from your ships
but this cold water war could only last so long

you see, Bipeds,
times are changing thanks to your recklessness
and when the mass extinctions begin
we want you to know
who’ll be taking the driver’s seat

you’ve been dumping your garbage
into our home for far too long
farming our prey to extinction
turning us into delicacies like sushi

we understand fishing
we’re predators, too
though we don’t know how salmon, cod, or tuna taste cooked
fresh and raw, they’re scrumptious

now the chemicals are inexcusable
so we stay away from shore
but in the middle of the endless ocean
islands of trash float ignored
except by us
we’re learning how to your trash like tools
we didn’t need Prometheus
just Poseidon
when the first of us
learned how to reshape a soda can
into an arrowhead
and make fishing spear
your days of hegemony were numbered

The Deep Horizon oil spill was the last straw
one bridge too far,
one drop in the bucket too many
so now we’re arming

you’re not destroying the environment
you’re destroying your environment
and if you pump too much CO2 into the skies
something will evolve to thrive on it
life always finds a way to survive
but know, Bipeds, that that species
may not be yours
98 percent of the species who have called this rock home are extinct
Mother Earth doesn’t care which one of us rules
and to her, extinction is a hiccup
and there is always an understudy
ready to take the starring role
and evolve into the dominant species

we’ve seen it many times before
your dying rainforests aren’t the first
we remember the Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse 300 million years ago
when your ancestors were still cold-blooded amphibians

we watched continents drift and volcanoes erupt
we had front row seats for a dozen meteor impacts
at the end of the Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Eocene and Neogene Periods
we dined under the waves as the bodies of dinosaurs washed out to sea
as the mice that would eventually become you
took over

now you’ve decided to join the Thunder Lizards in the fossil record
so we’re putting you on notice that this is our time,
this will soon be our world

so when you’ve suicided yourselves into history
and wiped the surface clean of all the major predators
we, octopuses, squids, nautiluses and cuttlefish will begin our migrations to land
flopping tentacles onto dry land
planting flags made your leftover refuse
and declaring these continents as ours
evolving into land creatures
over the next millions of years
building cities and civilizations
and teaching our children from the moment they hatch
if you’re going to pollute your world
you going to get what you deserve

but worry not, Bipeds,
even in your deaths,
you’ll still be useful
millions of years from now
as we pump what remains of you
into our gas tanks and rocket ships
and sail out into the stars
away from this graveyard of the fallen
this tomb of species who failed to learn


From "The Future Is Wild:The Tentacled Forest Part 3"


Octopuses regularly move across dry land in tidal pools searching for food and escaping aquatic predators. Generally nocturnal, this one was video taped in daytime.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

“Counting Breaths” for Amanda Rae Coughlin

“Counting Breaths”
By Christopher Fox Graham
For Amanda Rae Coughlin
You count your days up, never down
as though your days stretch from birth to infinity
but you know better
You count your days up, never down
because it’s easier to believe
if the numbers get bigger, never smaller
that you might make it to infinity somehow
but it’s lonely at the end of universe
out there, the rules governing matter break down
and the atoms on the edge lose touch with each other
because there isn’t enough gravity
to make holding on worth the weight
so all the living has to happen here

closer to the universe’s center, closer to zero
the weight of matter pulls us back down to earth,
never up
but down to the embrace of each other
we give up infinity to be close to one another
but sometimes it means we have to let go
to people who’ve been so close
it feels like atoms being ripped from our orbits

Amanda Rae Coughlin died March 16, 2012
Here, you count your days up, never down
because these bodies, born into fragile skeleton, come with an expiration date
governed by fate playing Russian roulette with magic bullet car crashes
or hearts bursting under the strain of beating us from footstep to footstep
or the body rebellion of cancer
But you still count your days up, never down
ever since your first day
when first breaths erupted into a cry announcing your arrival
into the arms of your mother

you count your breaths, too
but only the first ones and the last ones
because you don’t think about the miracle of breath
until every breath itself becomes a miracle
like when you're drowning
underwater, you count how long it’s been since you last breathed
but above the surface you don’t count how long you have left
because no one counts breaths
and no one ever tells you the number you have left
until you’re counting the last ones
always down, never up
by the time I finish this poem you will have inhaled and exhaled 45 times
since this time last year, you have swallowed 7.8 million lungfuls of the world
you hold each piece deep inside yourself to swim around the bloodstream
before pushing a piece of yourself back out

but one ever says,
“You have 500 million more breaths left”
“You only have 500”
where would you exhale
if you only had 10,000 liters of yourself
to pour back into the world?
on your first day,
you let loose a cry so the world knew you were here
but most of us will end within a whisper
but if you knew the method and the moment
when your breaths start their final countdown
would you live your life differently?
how would you spend your air?
would you sing more?
would you read stories to children?
would you curse the gods for starting the countdown in the first place?
would you just hold your breath?
would you stand on a mountaintop and scream one long unyielding note
for the beauty of it all?

we don’t think about the miracle of breath
until every breath itself becomes a miracle
like when we’re dying
cancer has a funny way of teaching us that
no one told Amanda she would only get 167 million breaths
Spent over 21 years 1 month 22 days
if she knew
how long would she have had held them
where else would she have spent them?
instead of just silent breathing
would she have squeezed more of them into vowels and consonants?
so we could hold on those pieces of her
people are like that too
some of us are held for just moments
some of us are held so deeply it’s impossible to distinguish them from us
her lungs ceased their accordion compressions
when her last breath slipped out the open window
but 66 million liters of her
still swirl in the atmosphere of Northern Arizona
how many of her escaped breaths are swimming in this room
waiting for you to swallow them
and remember how she touched you?

the next time a breeze brushes your face
inhale deep
take her into your lungs like you used to take her into your arms
hold her deep for a moment
and when you exhale
do it for her
and now, always count her breaths up, never down
so she can make it to infinity



Amanda Rae Coughlin, a 21-year-old Northern Arizona University elementary education major and Sedona Red Rock High School alumna was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma on March 29, 2011. She died March 16, 2012.
Donations can be made to the Coughlin Family Benefit, Chase Bank No. 424055932 or to Love 4 Amanda

Friday, April 6, 2012

Get your tickets today for the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, April 7, featuring Bill Campana

Bill Campana features at the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, April 7

In celebration of April as National Poetry Month, Sedona's Studio Live hosts a poetry slam Saturday, April 7, starting at 7:30 p.m. featuring Mesa poet Bill Campana and hosted by Sedona poet Christopher Fox Graham.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. The prize is funded in part by a donation from Verde Valley poetry supporter Jeanne Freeland.


The price rises to $12 at midnight tonight.

The slam will the fourth of the 2011-12 season, which has been more moving, more energetic and more intense because this year as poets compete for a slot in Sedona's first National Poetry Slam Team.

After four years of collaborating with the Flagstaff and Phoenix metro area poetry slam scenes, the Sedona scene has the reputation and strength to send its own team to the 2012 National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., in August. The eventual four-poet team will share the stage with 300 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe, pouring out their words in a weeklong explosion of expression.

Bill Campana

Before Campana blazed into the Mesa and Phoenix poetry scene in 1997, individuals would attend poetry readings and at the end of every dry, polished piece of mental origami, read with all the flair of a zoning law variance, those still awake in the audience would say "humph." Poets would get a smattering of courtesy applause, and everyone would go home feeling just a little more cultured than their neighbors who owned television sets.

Campana, however, knows that the only true way to respect culture is to break it into little tiny pieces. He came onto the poetry scene at full power, and suddenly the dry dusty notebooks of lesser poets got burned up in the shockwave.

Campana is the atom bomb that levels ivory towers. He got people excited enough about poetry to come back for more, and to see what would happen next. Soon, the audience was too big for the coffeehouse, a feat unprecedented since Socrates dared the baristas to make him a hemlock frappuchino.

Campana began writing poetry at the age of 17, quit at 22 because he realized that he had nothing to say. Twenty years later, he picked up where he left off, soon ran out of things to say again but has not stopped writing.

A member of five Mesa National Poetry Slam Teams, Campana has been to the semi-finals of the National Poetry Slam twice. He has hosted and featured across the Southwest, and continues to write at a feverish pace, always challenging fellow poets to better their craft on the page and the stage.

Campana takes elements of other art forms and applies them to his poetry. Although audiences can't hear the music, he insists it's in there in tributes to composition. Although audiences can't see the paintings and photographs they are there behind the words. Campana currently lives on the fine line that separates the page from the stage. From there he can reach people from both spectrums of modern poetry. Campana runs the weekly Sound Effects poetry open mic called in Phoenix.

Campana also recently released a compilation album, "The Hit List," that features 94 poems composed over the last 10 years of his performance career in Phoenix.

Sedona Poetry Slam
Photo by Harley Deuce
The April 7 slam will be hosted by Graham, who
represented Northern Arizona on the Flagstaff team
at five National Poetry Slams between 2001 and 2010.

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 April 7 slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on the Flagstaff team at five National Poetry Slams between 2001 and 2010.

Contact Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam.

Sedona National Poetry Slam Team
Competing poets earn points with each Sedona Poetry Slam performance between Dec. 3 and Saturday, May 5. Every poet earns 1 point for performing or hosting and 1/2 point for calibrating. First place earns 3 additional points, second place earns 2 and third place earns 1.

Based on points, the top 12 poets in May are eligible to compete for the four slots on the Sedona Poetry Slam Team, which will represent the community and Studio Live at the 2012 National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C.

All poets are eligible in the slamoff except those already confirmed members of or coaching another National Poetry Slam or College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational or Brave New Voices team. Poets can compete for multiple teams during a season and still be eligible to compete in the Sedona team.

The last slam of the season takes place on Saturday, May 5, featuring Brooklyn, N.Y., poet Sean Patrick Mulroy.

For poetry slam standings, videos from past slams, and updates, visit foxthepoet.blogspot.com.

What is Poetry Slam?

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.

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 $7 in advance and $12 the day of the event, available at Golden Word Books and Music, 3150 W. SR 89A, and online at studiolivesedona.com.

Studio Live is located at 215 Coffee Pot Drive, West Sedona. For more information, call (928) 282-2688.


Sedona National Poetry Slam Team
Slamoff Point Standings
7 points
Ryan Brown, of Flagstaff
Shaun "nodalone" Sristava, of Flagstaff ✓
6 points
Rowie Shebala, of Phoenix ✓
5 points
 Josh Wiss, of Flagstaff
The Klute, of Phoenix ✓
Tyler "Valence" Sirvinskas, of Flagstaff
4 points
Christopher Fox Graham, of Sedona
Jackson Morris, of Flagstaff ✓
3 points
Christopher Harbster, of Flagstaff
Mikel Weisser, of Kingman
Frank O'Brien, of Prescott
Lauren Perry, of Phoenix
Tara Pollock, of Flagstaff
2.5 points

Spencer Troth, of Flagstaff
2 points
Tom Heymsfeld, of Sedona
1.5 points
Noberto "Bert" Cisneros, of Cottonwood
1 pointJahnilli Akbar, of New York City
Ellenelizabeth Cernek, of Sedona
Evan Dissinger, of Flagstaff
Gabbi Jue, of Flagstaff
Jack Egan, of Sedona
Gary Every, of Sedona
Josh Goldberg, of Oak Creek Ranch School
Aaron Johnson, of Phoenix
Michelle Peterson, of Sedona
Kendra "Kenj" Shebala, of Flagstaff
Mary Elizabeth Skene, of Sedona
Seth Walker, of Texas
0.5 points
Sasha Anderson, of Flagstaff
Gary Bowers, of Phoenix
Danielle Silver, of Sedona
✓ = won a Sedona Poetry Slam