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, June 26, 2012

GumptionFest VII hosts the fourth annual Haiku Death Match in Sedona

GumptionFest VII's Haiku Death Match, aka GF7HDM

A Haiku Death Match is a competitive poetry duel that is a subgenre of poetry slam. The Haiku Death Match is a prominent feature at the annual National Poetry Slam, replete with full costume for the host.

At GumptionFest VII, we will hold the Fourth Annual Haiku Death Match. It takes place on Saturday, Sept. 15. Stage and time yet to be determined.

What is haiku?
Haiku (俳句) is a form of Japanese poetry consisting of 17 syllables in three metrical phrases of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables.

Japanese haiku typically contain a kigo, or seasonal reference, and a kireji or verbal caesura. In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to parallel the three metrical phrases of Japanese haiku.

What is slam haiku?
Slam haiku used in a Haiku Death Match is far simpler: Use of three or fewer lines of 17 syllables. Slam haiku can be anything from a single 17-syllable line or simply 17 words. Two of mine:
Traditional 5-7-5 haiku
Serial Killer Haiku
Funny you should ask
my trunk can fit two Boy Scouts
and a grandmother

American 17-syllable haiku
Grammar Haiku:
Why isn't "phonetic" spelled phonetically?
While you think, let's make out

A standard Haiku Death Match is conducted thus:
The host randomly draws the names of two poets, known as haikusters, from the pool of competitors.
The haikusters adorn headbands of two colors: Red and Not-Red (white).
Red Haikuster and Host bow to each other.
Not-Red Haikuster and Host bow to each other.
Red Haikuster and Not-Red Haikuster bow to each other.
Red Haikuster goes first.
The Red Haikuster reads his or her haiku twice. The audience does not clap or make noise (usually, though, they laugh or vocalize, but, of course, we must pretend that this is completely unacceptable).
The Not-Red Haikuster reads his or her haiku twice. Again, the audience does not clap or make noise.
The host waits for the three judges to make their choice for winner, then signals them to hold aloft their Red or Not-Red flag.
Simple majority (3-0 or 2-1) determines the winner.
The host asks the audience to demonstrate “the sound of one hand clapping,” i.e., silence, then “the sound of two hands clapping,” at which point they can finally applaud. The mock ceremony involving the audience is half the fun.
The winning haikuster then goes first.
Depending on the round, the winner will be best 3 of 5, 4 of 7, best 5 of 9, etc., of a number determined beforehand for each round.
After the duel, Red Haikuster and Not-Red Haikuster bow to each other and shake hands. The next duel begins.

Rules for the GumptionFest VII Haiku Death Match:
  • Titles: Haikusters can read their haiku titles before they read the haiku. (This gives the haikusters technically more syllables to put the haiku in context, but the haiku itself must still be only 17 syllables. While this is not “pure” Haiku Death Match rules, it’s much more fun for the audience.
  • Originality: Poets must be the sole authors of the haiku they use in competition. Plagiarized haiku are grounds for disqualification. We all love Matsuo Bashō, but he’s 300 years too dead to compete.
  • On-page or memorized?: Poets can read from the page, book, journal, notepad, etc.
  • Preparation: Poets can have haiku written beforehand or write them in their head while at the mic. As long as the haiku are 17 syllables, we don’t care how, when or from where the haiku originates.
  • Rounds: Will be determined by the number of haikusters who sign up to compete.
  • Quantity of haiku needed: Depends on the number of rounds. 30 haiku will likely be enough for poets who push rounds to the last haiku needed and go all the rounds, but 50 to 100 gives haikusters enough material to be flexible in competition. Most veteran haikusters have several hundred to compete with.
  • Censorship: Adult themes and language are acceptable. There may be children present so you may have to deal with their parents afterward, but that’s your call.
  • Register: E-mail me at foxthepoet@yahoo.com or GumptionFest at GumptionFest@gmail.com.
What’s the Best Strategy to Win?
  • A winning haikuster is flexible.
  • If your opponent reads a serious or deep haiku, read one that is more serious or more profound, or go on the opposite tack and read something funny.
  • If your opponent reads a funny haiku, read one that is funnier, or go on the opposite tack and read something serious or deep.
  • If your opponent makes fun of you, make fun of yourself even bigger or make fun of them. A good head-to-head haiku can work wonders and often wins a Haiku duel. For instance, my “Damien Flores Haiku,” “Easy way to win: / Damien is 20, Officer, / and he's drunk."
  • If you’re on stage and you get an idea for a haiku, feel free to write it down immediately. That might be the next round’s haiku that wins you the duel.
  • Have a good time. Even if don't get past the first round, it's still a great time for all.
Still Scared of Haiku?
Don't be, they're easy to write. Haiku Death Match haiku are not likely to be remembered centuries from now, so don't stress out. Write short poems that you find entertaining and enjoyable.

The Robert Spiess Memorial 2012 Haiku Awards

nautical chart
I touch the depth
of my mother’s ashes
— Scott Mason, First Prize


slave quarters ...
the shapes of their shadows
in this dust
— Duro Jaiye, Second Prize


shades of blue ...
the deer’s remaining eye
cradled by bone
— Susan Constable, Third Prize

winter dusk
my grief released
from the crow’s throat
— Margaret Chula, Honorable Mention

formation of geese —
a log opens
to the woodsman’s maul
— Michele L. Harvey, Honorable Mention

I seem to be
an intermittent shadow . . .
summer clouds
— Kirsty Karkow, Honorable Mention

Anonymous Haiku:


Haiku are easy
but sometimes they don't make sense ...
refrigerator

she dances lithely
seduction under the moon
I ... hey, a nickel!

My life is Jello
Sitting, waiting in the bowl
Patiently to gel

"Doom" Haiku:
Frag demons for hours
Stare at the screen with red eyes
it's time for class

Cat haiku:
The rule for today
Touch my tail, I shred your hand
New rule tomorrow

Dog haiku:
You must scratch me there!
Yes, above my tail! Behold,
"Elevator butt."

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Christopher Fox Graham features at the Pump House Poetry and Prose open-air public reading

Pump House Poetry and Prose announces June 29 open-air public reading

Pump House Poetry and Prose announces its third public literary reading of the 2012 season, on Friday, June 29, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the historic Sedona Pump House ,east of Creekside Plaza, south of the Sedona Y on State Route 179).


View Pump House Poetry open-air reading in a larger map

About the Readers

Christopher Fox Graham is a Montana-born poet and current Sedona poetry slammaster. He won the 2004 and 2012 Flagstaff Poetry Grand Slam and the 2005 Arizona All-Star Poetry Slam, and he is a member of the 2012 Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team. He is assistant managing editor of the Sedona Red Rock News and has been seen on MTV and the Travel Channel.

Eric Penner Haury writes prose, including science fiction and fantasy. His short stories have appeared in The Fifth Di… and Tales of the Talisman. In 2011, the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff published his biography of his grandfather, who was director of the museum in the 1960s and 1970s, Edward Bridge Danson—Steward of the New West.

Mateo is a poet, wood-etching artist and hand-balancer who recently moved to Arizona from Ohio. He works with sacred geometry and crop circles by etching them into wood, and studies spirituality of all kinds, including the Keys of Enoch. He was an open mic reader in May and was invited to be one of this month’s featured authors based on that performance.

Pump House Poetry and Prose

Cynthia Tuck, owner of Ageless Pages, the used bookstore in Sedona, and Cassandra Ward, a professor at Northern Arizona University, present monthly Pump House Poetry and Prose readings at the Sedona Pump House from 4 to 6 p.m. on the last Friday of each month to promote an interest in literature in Northern Arizona in general and in Sedona in particular.

Poet Gary Every serves as master of ceremonies and reads from his own work at each monthly event.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

GumptionFest VII issues call for artists, volunteers and vendors

GumptionFest VII issues call for artists, volunteers and vendors

GumptionFest, Sedona’s largest free, community arts festival takes place along Coffee Pot Drive in West Sedona on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 14, 15 and 16.
GumptionFest VII: A New Hope is opening the call to all artists who want to participate. Performers should contact GumptionFest organizers now to voice their interest in performing. The deadline for all performers to get in is Wednesday, Aug. 1.
Vendors are also invited to come to display and sell their wares to the estimated 1,200 attendees.
This year’s festival is expected to be the biggest ever, expanding from the main stage at Oak Creek Brewing Co. to other locations along State Route 89A: Olde Sedona Bar & Grill, Szechuan Martini Bar, Heart of Sedona coffee shop, outside New Frontiers Natural Marketplace and the outdoor stage at the Old Marketplace.
The festival features some of the most well-known names in the Sedona and Verde Valley as well as regional artists from Flagstaff and Phoenix, and other performers from Kingman and Los Angeles. The artists include singers, songwriters, performance poets, rock bands, painters, sculptors and fire-spinning performance artists. Poets are welcome to compete in the fourth annual Haiku Death Match poetry slam.
However, what makes GumptionFest unique among Arizona arts festivals is that anyone who wants to play music, perform poetry, display art or dance is eagerly invited to participate. Talent levels are not important: participants range from full-time professional artists and musicians and published poets to recreational artists, part-time photographers and those who pen poems in private journals.
Youth and teen artists are strongly encouraged to participate whether they aim to become professional artists as adults or just create art, write poetry or play music to pass the time.
The GumptionFest VII kickoff party begins Friday, Sept. 14.
GumptionFest VII officially starts on Saturday, Sept. 15, with performances all day long. GumptionFest VII Day Two continues the party on Sunday, Sept. 16, with a whole new lineup.
Volunteers are also still needed this year, so even those who don’t play an instrument, paint, sculpt or write poems can help and be a part of one of the largest free arts festival in Sedona.
Organizers for GumptionFest VII: A New Hope invite visual artists, photographers, dancers and dance troupes, musicians, bands, theater groups and poets who want to be a part of the festival for either one, two, or all three days to attend and spontaneously create or perform.
To participate, volunteer or contribute as a sponsor, contact GumptionFest@gmail.com or visit gumptionfest.org or GumptionFest on Facebook.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Valence wins the Sedona Poetry Grand Slam

Tyler "Valence" Sirvinskas wins the Sedona Poetry Grand Slam held Saturday, June 16, 2012, at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre in Sedona, Arizona.
Photo courtesy of MaryCae Vignolini
2012 Sedona Grand Slam Champion Tyler Sirvinskas, aka Valence, performs at the 2011 National Poetry Slam in Cambridge, Mass.
The 2012 Sedona National Poetry Slam Team members are:
Valence, Evan Dissinger, Josh Wiss, Frank O'Brien and Spenser Troth.


Benediction: Christopher Fox Graham, of Sedona, "Welcome to the Church of the Word"
Round 1
Draw based on season's point rankings

Calibration: Shaun "nodalone" Sristava, of Flagstaff
Calibration: Jackson Morris, of Flagstaff
Calibration: Christopher Fox Graham, of Sedona, "Spinal Language"
Lauren Hanss, of Flagstaff, 21.8, 1:32, 11th, -7.1
Gary Every, of Sedona, 23.7, 22.7 after 1.0-point time penalty, 3:24, 10th, -5.2
Evan Dissinger, of Flagstaff, 28.3, 3:06, tie 3rd, -0.6
Spenser Troth, of Flagstaff, 28.3, 27.3 after 1.0-point time penalty, 3:21, tie 3rd, -0.6
Austin Reeves, of Flagstaff, 26.8, 2:41, 8th -2.1
Mikel Weisser, of Kingman, 26.4, 2:18, 9th, -2.5
Frank O'Brien, of Prescott, 27.5, 2:59, tie 6th, -1.4
The Klute, of Phoenix, 28.3, 27.8 after 0.5-point time penalty, 3:15, tie 3rd, -0.6
Lauren Perry, of Phoenix, 27.5,  2:51, tie 6th, -1.4
Josh Wiss, of Flagstaff, 28.9, 2:18, 1st, 0.0
Tyler "Valence" Sirvinskas, of Flagstaff, 28.5, 2:54, 2nd, -0.4

Round 2
Reverse Order
Sorbet: Christopher Fox Graham, of Sedona, "Dear Pluto"

Tyler "Valence" Sirvinskas, of Flagstaff, 28.3, 2:26, 56.8, 4th, -0.5
Josh Wiss, of Flagstaff, 28.1, 2:39, 57.0, 3rd, -0.3

Lauren Perry, of Phoenix, 28.3, 2:32, 55.8, 5th, -1.5
The Klute, of Phoenix, 29.4, 2:50, 57.2, 2nd, -0.1
Frank O'Brien, of Prescott, 27.8, 2:57, 55.3, 6th, -2.0
Mikel Weisser, of Kingman, 26.9, 2:46, 53.3, 9th, -4.0
Austin Reeves, of Flagstaff, 26.7, 2:59, 53.5, 8th, -3.8
Spenser Troth, of Flagstaff, 26.8, 2:33, 54.1, 7th, -3.2
Evan Dissinger, of Flagstaff, 29.0, 2:14, 57.3, 1st, 0.0
Gary Every, of Sedona, 27.0, 2:50, 49.7, 10th, -7.6
Lauren Hanss, of Flagstaff, 25.8, 2:08, 47.6, 11th, -9.7

Round 3
High to Low
Sorbet: Christopher Fox Graham (poem) and Azami Ishihara (dance), of Sedona, "In the Corners of This Room."

Evan Dissinger, of Flagstaff, 28.3, 1:33, 85.6, 2nd, -0.4
The Klute, of Phoenix, 28.3, 2:47, 85.5, 3rd, -0.5
Josh Wiss, of Flagstaff, 28.3, 2:26, 85.3, 4th, -0.7

Tyler "Valence" Sirvinskas, of Flagstaff, 29.2, 2:47, 86., 1st, 0.0
Lauren Perry, of Phoenix, 27.6, 27.1 after 0.5-point time penalty, 3:16, 82.9, 6th, -3.1
Frank O'Brien, of Prescott, 28.8, 2:58, 84., 5th, -1.9
Spenser Troth, of Flagstaff, 28.3, 1:33, 82.4, 7th, -3.6
Austin Reeves, of Flagstaff, 28.6, 3:06, 82.1, 8th, -3.9
Mikel Weisser, of Kingman, 26.9, 2:28, 80.2, 9th, -5.8
Gary Every, of Sedona, 27.6, 1:54, 77.3, 10th, -8.7
Lauren Hanss, of Flagstaff, 27.3, 1:54, 74.9, -11.1

Final Scores
Tyler "Valence" Sirvinskas, of Flagstaff, 86.0
Evan Dissinger, of Flagstaff, 85.6
The Klute, of Phoenix, 85.5
Josh Wiss, of Flagstaff, 85.3
Frank O'Brien, of Prescott, 84.1
Lauren Perry, of Phoenix, 82.9
Spenser Troth, of Flagstaff, 82.4
Austin Reeves, of Flagstaff, 82.1
Mikel Weisser, of Kingman, 80.2
Gary Every, of Sedona, 77.3
Lauren Hanss, of Flagstaff, 74.9

(The Klute and Lauren Perry declined to join the team, bumping Frank O'Brien and Spencer Troth to the team as alternates).

Photo by Jonathan Weiskopf.
Tyler Sirvinskas aka Valence performs at the 2011 National Poetry Slam in Cambridge, Mass.
Tyler Sirvinskas aka Valence, was a member of the 2011 Flagstaff National Poetry Slam team. He is the top-ranked poet competing in the Sedona grand slam

Evan Dissinger. Photo by Kelly Watts.
Evan Dissinger is one of the preeminent voices in the Flagstaff poetry scene. A skateboard rat in Flagstaff, Dissinger is one of the most sincere poets in Arizona with a knack for making conventional experiences sublime.

Josh Wiss
Joshua Wiss’ infectious enthusiasm for life is evident in his energetic performances. A recent graduate of NAU with a degree in creative writing, Wiss performed at every Sedona Poetry Slam this season and was ranked No. 2 going into the grand slam.

Frank O'Brien
A poet’s poet, Frank O’Brien writes with a profound simplicity. O’Brien won the 2008 and 2009 Flagstaff Grand Slams, and competed at three national poetry slams from 2008 to 2010.

Spencer Troth
A political science student at NAU, Spencer Troth’s introspective work brings compassion to his views of current events, such as a poem touching on the double murder outside Sedona in January. Troth will be taking his poetic voice overseas as a political science student in France next year.

    Chuck Norris plays Mario Cart

    Saturday, June 16, 2012

    Buy your tickets now for today's Sedona Poetry Grand Slam


     The biggest, most energetic poetry event to hit Sedona is coming to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 16:

    The 2012 Sedona Poetry Grand Slam.

    The top 12 slam poets in Arizona will compete in three rounds in front five judges randomly selected from the audience who assign numerical value to individual performances.
    At the end of the night, the top four poets will represent Sedona at the weeklong National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., in August. There, Sedona’s four representatives will compete against more than 350 of the best performance poets from the United States and Canada.
    At nationals, poets perform both solo and group poems, creating complex, dynamic performances.
    For the last sixth months, poets from all over Arizona have been competing in Sedona, earning points for the Sedona Poetry Grand Slam. Only the top 12 of the nearly 50 competitors made the cut for this invitation-only contest.
    Poetry slam is unlike any other poetry event you’ve ever seen. Slam poetry isn’t enigmatic and esoteric like in a college literature class with rhyme and meter, but an energetic blend of spoken word, theater and performance art.
    In each three-minute performance of their original work, poets aim to make audiences laugh, cheer, cry or get chills down their spines. The performers are not permitted to use props, costumes or musical accompaniment, relying instead on their own words and inflections.
    Poems range from explosively humorous to deeply personal to wryly political, with styles from hip-hop to narrative storytelling. All types of poetry are welcome. Audience reaction is just as important to a high score as the poetry itself, so the crowd is encouraged to not remain silent, but cheer, boo and engage with the poets’ on stage.

    Tickets are $15, available online at studiolivesedona.com. Proceeds help fund the team’s trip to Charlotte. Additional donations will gladly be accepted.
    The 2012 slam season and the grand slam is cosponsored by the Sedona Performing Arts Alliance, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

    The Mary D. Fisher Theatre is located at 2030 W. SR 89A, near Coffee Pot Drive in West Sedona. For more information, call (928) 282-2688. For videos from past slams and updates about the grand slam, visit foxthepoet.blogspot.com.

    Sunday, June 3, 2012

    Buy your tickets the Sedona Poetry Grand Slam now and pick your seat

     The biggest, most energetic poetry event to hit Sedona is coming to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 16:

    The 2012 Sedona Poetry Grand Slam.

    The top 12 slam poets in Arizona will compete in three rounds in front five judges randomly selected from the audience who assign numerical value to individual performances.
    At the end of the night, the top four poets will represent Sedona at the weeklong National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., in August. There, Sedona’s four representatives will compete against more than 350 of the best performance poets from the United States and Canada.
    At nationals, poets perform both solo and group poems, creating complex, dynamic performances.
    For the last sixth months, poets from all over Arizona have been competing in Sedona, earning points for the Sedona Poetry Grand Slam. Only the top 12 of the nearly 50 competitors made the cut for this invitation-only contest.
    Poetry slam is unlike any other poetry event you’ve ever seen. Slam poetry isn’t enigmatic and esoteric like in a college literature class with rhyme and meter, but an energetic blend of spoken word, theater and performance art.
    In each three-minute performance of their original work, poets aim to make audiences laugh, cheer, cry or get chills down their spines. The performers are not permitted to use props, costumes or musical accompaniment, relying instead on their own words and inflections.
    Poems range from explosively humorous to deeply personal to wryly political, with styles from hip-hop to narrative storytelling. All types of poetry are welcome. Audience reaction is just as important to a high score as the poetry itself, so the crowd is encouraged to not remain silent, but cheer, boo and engage with the poets’ on stage.

    Tickets are $15, available online at studiolivesedona.com. Proceeds help fund the team’s trip to Charlotte. Additional donations will gladly be accepted.
    The 2012 slam season and the grand slam is cosponsored by the Sedona Performing Arts Alliance, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

    The Mary D. Fisher Theatre is located at 2030 W. SR 89A, near Coffee Pot Drive in West Sedona. For more information, call (928) 282-2688. For videos from past slams and updates about the grand slam, visit foxthepoet.blogspot.com.