This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mary D. Fisher Theatre hosts fourth Sedona Poetry Slam of 2017-18 season Saturday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m.

The Sedona Poetry Slam returns to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m.

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. and boisterous . Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. All types of poetry are welcome on the stage, from street-wise hip-hop and narrative performance poems, to political rants and introspective confessionals. Any poem is a “slam” poem if performed in a competition. All poets get three minutes per round to entertain and inspire the audience with their creativity.

Bernard "The Klute" Schober reads his victory poem after winning the third 
Sedona Poetry Slam of the 2017-18 season on Dec. 30 at the Mary D. Fisher
 Theatre.  The next  Sedona Poetry Slam takes place Saturday, Feb. 3, at 
7:30 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre.
All poets are welcome to compete for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. To compete in the slam, poets will need three original poems, each lasting no longer than three minutes. No props, costumes nor musical accompaniment are permitted. The poets are judged Olympics-style by five members of the audience selected at random at the beginning of the slam.

Poets in the Sedona Poetry Slam come from as far away as Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, competing against adult poets from Sedona and Cottonwood, college poets from Northern Arizona University, and youth poets from Sedona Red Rock High School.

The first three slams of the season were held Nov. 4, Dec. 16 and Dec. 30, won by Lauren Perry, M.C. Tristan Marshall and Bernard "The Klute" Schober, respectively. The next three slams will be at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona, on Saturdays April 7, May 5 and May 26.

Tickets are $12. For tickets, call 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org.

The Sedona National Poetry Slam Team

Lauren Perry won the first Sedona Poetry Slam of the 2017-18 season 
on Nov. 4 at the Sedona Arts Center. The next Sedona Poetry Slam 
takes place Saturday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre.
The 2017-18 season will culminate in selection of Sedona’s seventh National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent Sedona and the Verde Valley at the National Poetry Slam in Chicago in August.

The Last Chance Slam on May 26 will be the final opportunity for poets who want to qualify for the 2018 Grand Slam. With every regular slam, poets earn points toward a slot in the Grand Slam, on Saturday, June 9. The poets who make the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team at the final contest will represent Sedona and share the stage with 350 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe at the week-long National Poetry Slam in Chicago in August.

Sedona sent its first team to the 2012 NPS in Charlotte, N.C., its second to the 2013 NPS in Boston and Cambridge, Mass., and its third and fourth to Oakland, Calif., its fifth to Decatur, Ga., and its sixth to Denver. For more information, visit foxthepoet.blogspot.com.

The prize money is funded in part by a donation from Verde Valley poetry supporters Jeanne and Jim Freeland.

Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam early by Friday, Feb. 2, or arrive at the door by 7 p.m. to sign up the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on 10 FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-17. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

What is Poetry Slam?

Founded at the Green Mill Tavern by Marc Smith in Chicago in 1984, poetry slam is a competitive artistic sport designed to get people who would otherwise never go to a poetry reading excited about the art form when it becomes a high-energy competition. 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. Slam poets have opened at the 2010 Winter Olympics, performed at the White House and at the United Nations General Assembly and were featured on "Russell Simmon's Def Poets" on HBO.

For more information, visit poetryslam.com or the PSi channel on YouTube.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

"On My Back Porch"



on my back porch
through the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door
there is a weathered bottle of Guinness
the frayed edges of the label
marking the months since its abandonment
from soft hands and mouth forever foreign to my own

in the morning, the sunlit glint
refracts midnight brown glass
the original sin of my every sunrise
the thumbprint on the Mona Lisa
the first dent in a new car
the D in algebra
the hit-and-run body in the woods
we never talk about
keeping the scar of that night
the conversation forever fresh
her body
his
and my oblivious complicit silence

in the years hence,
when I think back about this home
I will remember the southern view
the sound of birds in the morning
bees around dusk
the first soft snow of winter
the creak of livingroom floorboards

and this bottle

refracting sunrise into my eyes
a tangible manifestation of sin
morning,
after morning,
after morning

I am not writing this poem
to ask for her forgiveness
it’s too late for that
nor my own absolution
undeserved

I am writing this poem
so if you ever visit my home
come wandering in to my back door
you do not make the mistake of picking up this bottle
it is not forgotten
instead imagine
it is bolted to the wood
nailed down with cold sin
impossible to lift
impossible to forget
impossible to forgive

Friday, January 12, 2018

Athena Zelda Nebula Skye Sylvia Diana Fox Graham's House Crest

This is the official House Crest of our daughter, Athena Zelda Nebula Skye Sylvia Diana Fox Graham:
Because my last name is Graham, not "Fox Graham" as some people assume, I made Athena a new crest that reflects the difference in her last name.



All eight of her names are represented:

Athena:

 Greek goddess of wisdom and war strategy who sprung fully armored from the head of Zeus.

Athena went by many epithets:
  • Athena was most commonly Pallas Athena Παλλάς Ἀθηνᾶ, derived either from πάλλω, meaning "to brandish [as a weapon]", or, more likely, from παλλακίς and related words, meaning "youth, young woman."Athena never had a consort or lover and is thus known as Athena Parthenos Ἀθηνᾶ Παρθένος, from which is derived the name of the Parthenon, the major temple on the Acropolis in Athens.
  • Athena Promachos Ἀθηνᾶ Πρόμαχος "Athena who fights in the front line" celebrated her role as a warrior, though she was worshiped by the Greeks not for her fighting prowess, but for her strategic military wisdom. Athena Promachos was also the name of a colossal bronze statue of Athena sculpted by Pheidias, which stood between the Propylaea and the Parthenon on the Acropolis. Erected around 456 BC, the Athena Promachos was either to memorialize the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) or the Persian Wars (First Persian War 492-490 BC, Second Persian War 480-479 BC, Wars of the Delian League 477–449 BC), which is possibly what the dedicatory inscription refers to; This inscription also mentions that the trophies won in the Persian War were once placed around the pedestal of the statue.
  • Athena Atrytone Ἀθηνᾶ Άτρυτώνη "Athena the Unwearying."
  • Athena Areia Ἀθηνᾶ Ἀρεία "Athena the noble"
  • Athena Ergane Ἀθηνᾶ Εργάνη "Athena the Industrious."
  • Athena Polias Ἀθηνᾶ Πολιάς "Athena of the city", refers to Athena's role as protectress of the city of Athens.
  • Athena Hippia Ἀθηνᾶ Ἵππια "Athena of the horses, refers to her role as a patron of equestrians.
  • Athena Hellotia Ἀθηνᾶ Ἑλλωτίᾶ was an epithet of Athena at Corinth
  • Athena, Apollo, Hermes, Hecate, Aphrodite and Artemis sometimes had the epithet Kourotrophos Kουροτρόφος or "child nurturer" added to the name as a patron of children and young people. In art, they were depicted holding a baby in their arms. Kourotrophos was also a stand-alone deity of Athens who protected of children and young people.
  • Athena Itonia Ἀθηνᾶ Ἰτωνία was an epithet of Athena worshiped widely in Thessaly, derived from the town of Iton in the south of Phthiotis, the home of Achilles. Athena Itonia was a goddess of war and the arts of peace, especially poetry.
  • Athena Budeia Ἀθηνᾶ Βούδεια "Athena the oxen-yoker" was a surname of Athena in Thessaly.
  • Athena Anemotis Ἀθηνᾶ Ἀνεμῶτις "Athena of the Anemoi" aka "Athena, subduer of the winds". The main four Anemoi were the cold north wind Boreas, the gentle west wind Zephyrus, the hot south wind Notus, and the strong east wind Eurus. The lesser wind was Kaikais of the northeast, Apeilotes of the wind from the rising sun, Skiron of the from the Scironian from the northwest, and Lips of the southwest.
  • Athena Ambulia Ἀθηνᾶ Ἀμβουλία was her name in Sparta, supposed to be derived from the Greek anaballo ἀναβάλλω, "to delay" and to designate those divinities as the delayers of death. Ambulia shares the same root word of ambulance, which, well, delays death.
  • Athena Alkidemos Ἀθηνᾶ Αλκιδεμοσ "Athena defender of the people" was the epithet of Athena of Pella, Macedonia. Athena Alkidemos was depicted with a thunderbolt and shield, or aegis.
In any case, this is Athena Parthenos in the crest, accompanied by her traditional Little Owl (Athene noctua):



Zelda:

For Zelda Fitzgerald and Princess Zelda

Zelda Fitzgerald, née Sayre (July 24, 1900-March 10, 1948) was an American socialite, novelist, painter and wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald. She was noted for her beauty and high spirits, and was dubbed by her husband as "the first American Flapper". She and Scott became emblems of the Jazz Age. She served as the model for Daisy Buchanan in F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel "The Great Gatsby."

Princess Zelda is the titular character in Nintendo's "The Legend of Zelda" video game series, created by Shigeru Miyamoto and introduced in its original entry in 1986. According to Miyamoto, Princess Zelda was named for Zelda Fitzgerald.
The name has applied to many female members of Hyrule's royal family, which includes several distinct characters in Hyrule legend. Zelda's alter egos include the ninja Sheik in Ocarina of Time and the pirate Tetra in The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. 
This is Princess Zelda in the crest as she is seen in the 2006 game "Twilight Princess"



Nebula:

For astrophysics

This part of the crest shows the region of space in Orion, with the Horsehead Nebula (Officially named Barnard 33, Right ascension: 05h 40m 59.0s Declination: −02° 27′ 30.0").
Lying 1,500 light-years from the sun, just south of the easternmost star in Orion's Belt, the Horsehead Nebula at first glance appears to be a distinctive hole cut in the vibrant backdrop of another nebula, IC 434. However, the darkness is actually a cloud of predominantly hydrogen gas that stands out because of the glow from the pinkish background gas. Known as an emission cloud, the intriguing shape of the nebula is sculpted by radiation from the stars around it. The dark gas extends below the more obvious horse's head into a shapeless blob beneath it.
The Horsehead Nebula is also important to the role of women in astrophysics: In 1894, American astronomer Edward Barnard photographed the distinctive nebula from the Lick Observatory in California, adding it to his list of dark nebula and resulting in its official moniker, but it was first imaged at Harvard College Observatory in 1888 on photographic plates.
Frustrated with his male assistants, astronomy professor Edward Pickering famously claimed that his maid could do a better job of identifying and cataloging the extensive collection of images taken at the observatory. He hired his maid, Williamina Fleming, along with several other women, who became known as "computers." Fleming proved Pickering's point. 
In addition to discovering the Horsehead Nebula, Williamina Fleming discovered 58 other gaseous nebulae, 10 novae and more than 300 variable stars. She eventually became the first American woman to be elected an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society of London.

The Horsehead Nebula appears in the background, positioned between Athena and Diana:

Skye:

The largest and northernmost of the major islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland

The Isle of Skye [An t-Eilean Sgitheanach or Eilean a' Cheò] has been occupied since the Mesolithic period, and its history includes a time of Norse rule and a long period of domination by Clan MacLeod and Clan Donald. The 18th century Jacobite risings led to the breaking up of the clan system and subsequent Clearances that replaced entire communities with sheep farms, some of which also involved forced emigrations to distant lands. Resident numbers declined from over 20,000 in the early 19th century to just under 9,000 by the closing decade of the 20th century. About a third of the residents were Gaelic speakers in 2001, and although their numbers are in decline, this aspect of island culture remains important.
The island's largest settlement is Portree [Port Rìgh], known for its picturesque harbour, where my mother and I stayed when we visited Scotland.
We also visited Dunvegan [Dùn Bheagain] Castle, seat of the chief of Clan MacLeod, hiked to the Neist Point Lighthouse and visited the village of Uig, [Ùige],  which at 57.586°N, is the northernmost point on Earth that either of us have ever been.

I had always wanted to visit Skye. I like the name and I loved the The Skye Boat Song, one of the few songs I can sing in tune from memory. "The Skye Boat Song" is a Scottish folk song, which can be played as a waltz, recalling the escape of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) from Uist to the Isle of Skye after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The Graham Clan were Jacobites for two generations and many fell at Culloden, near Inverness, both of which we also visited.




The Skye Boat Song

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,
Thunderclaps rend the air;
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore,
Follow they will not dare.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean's a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Many's the lad fought on that day,
Well the claymore could wield,
When the night came, silently lay
Dead on Culloden's field.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Burned are their homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men;
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath
Charlie will come again.

The Isle of Skye, has its own tartan, which is located on Princess Zelda's dress:

Sylvia:

A family name

Sylvia is the name of my mother Sylvia L. Elliott née Redfield, grandmother Sylvia Rebie Redfield née Slife and great-grandmother Rebie Sylvia Slife née McElwee.

Silvia is an Italian female given name of Latin origin, with English-language cognate Sylvia. The name originates from the Latin word for forest Silva and its meaning is spirit of the wood. The mythological god of the forest was associated with the figure of Silvanus.

In Roman mythology, Silvia is the goddess of the forest.

Rhea Silvia was the mother of Romulus and Remus. According to Livy's account of the legend she was the daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa, and descended from Aeneas. Numitor's younger brother Amulius seized the throne and killed Numitor's son, then forced Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin, a priestess of the goddess Vesta. As Vestal Virgins were sworn to celibacy for a period of thirty years, this would ensure the line of Numitor had no heirs.
However, Rhea Silvia conceived and gave birth to the twins Romulus and Remus. She claimed that the god Mars was the father of the children.
When Amulius learned of the birth he imprisoned Rhea Silvia and ordered a servant to kill the twins. But the servant showed mercy and set them adrift on the river Tiber, which, overflowing, left the infants in a pool by the bank. There, a she-wolf (lupa), who had just lost her own cubs, suckled them.[4] Subsequently Faustulus rescued the boys, to be raised by his wife Larentia.[5] The god of the Tiber, Tiberinus, rescued Rhea Silvia and took her to be his bride.
Romulus would go on to found Rome, overthrow Amulius, and reinstate Numitor as King of Alba Longa.

St. Silvia or Sylvia (circa A.D. 515 to circa A.D. 592) was the mother of Saint Gregory the Great. Silvia was noted for her great piety, and she gave her sons an excellent education. After the death of her husband Gordian in 573, Gregory converted his paternal home into a monastery. Sylvia therefore retired to a solitary and quasi-monastic life in a little abode near the Church of St. Sava on the Aventine, devoting herself entirely to religion in the "new cell by the gate of blessed Paul" (cella nova juxta portam beati Pauli).  It became her custom frequently to send fresh vegetables to her son on a silver platter. One day, when Gregory found himself with nothing to give a poor beggar, he presented him with the silver platter.

The veneration of St. Silvia is of early date. In the ninth century an oratory was erected over her former dwelling, near the Basilica of San Saba. Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605) inserted her name under Nov. 3 in the Roman Martyrology.

St. Sylvia is invoked by pregnant women for a safe delivery. Coincidently, my mother Sylvia L. Elliott née Redfield and great-grandmother Rebie Sylvia Slife née McElwee were both nurses and my mother current works as a risk manager for Chandler Regional Hospital, southeast of Phoenix.

St. Sylvia's sliver platter appears below Athena's feet:


Diana:


Roman goddess of the hunt, the moon and nature, daughter of Jupiter and Latona.

Diana is a variation on Laura's mother's middle name, Diane.

As Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and nature, she was associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy.

Diana was known as the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, along with Minerva (Greek: Athena) and Vesta (Greek: Hestia), who swore never to marry. Oak groves and deer were especially sacred to her.

The Roman Diana was born with her twin brother, Apollo, on the island of Delos near Mykonos, near the centre of the Cyclades archipelago. Diana is the daughter of Jupiter [Greek: Zeus] and Latona [Greek: Leto, daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe, the sister of Asteria]. She made up a triad with two other Roman deities; Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius [Greek: Hippolytus], the woodland god.

Diana was one of the triple goddess, the same goddess being called Luna in heaven, Diana on earth and Proserpina in Hades or hell.

Diana is complex and contains a number of archaic features. According to French comparative philologistGeorges Dumézil [1898-1986] it falls into a particular subset of celestial gods, referred to in histories of religion as "frame gods." Such gods, while keeping the original features of celestial divinities, i.e. transcendent heavenly power and abstention from direct rule in worldly matters, did not share the fate of other celestial gods in Indoeuropean religions — that of becoming dei otiosi or gods without practical purpose, since they did retain a particular sort of influence over the world and mankind.

The celestial character of Diana is reflected in her connection with inaccessibility, virginity, light and her preference for dwelling on high mountains and in sacred woods. Diana reflects the heavenly world (diuum means sky or open air) in its sovereignty, supremacy, impassibility and indifference towards such secular matters as the fates of mortals and states. At the same time, however, she is seen as active in ensuring the succession of kings and in the preservation of humankind through the protection of childbirth.

These functions are apparent in the traditional institutions and cults related to the goddess.
  • The institution of the rex Nemorensis, Diana's sacerdos (priest) in the Arician wood, who held the position until someone else challenged and killed him in a duel, after breaking a branch from a certain tree of the wood. This ever open succession reveals the character and mission of the goddess as a guarantor of kingly status through successive generations. Her function as bestower of authority to rule is also attested in the story related by Livy in which a Sabine man who sacrifices a heifer to Diana wins for his country the seat of the Roman empire.
  • Diana was also worshiped by women who wanted to be pregnant or who, once pregnant, prayed for an easy delivery. This form of worship is attested in archaeological finds of votive statuettes in her sanctuary in the nemus Aricinum as well as in ancient sources.
As a goddess of hunting, Diana often wears a short tunic and hunting boots. She is often portrayed holding a bow, and carrying a quiver on her shoulder, accompanied by a deer or hunting dogs. Like Venus [Greek: Aphrodite], she was portrayed as beautiful and youthful. The crescent moon, sometimes worn as a diadem, is a major attribute of the goddess. In Rome, the cult of Diana should have been almost as old as the city itself as Roman scholar and writer Marcus Terentius Varro [116 BC – 27 BC] mentions her in the list of deities to whom King Titus Tatius of the Sabines vowed a shrine.

Diana is also the true name and identity of DC superhero Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince.


Diana appears as an archer here:

Fox Graham:

For obvious reasons

Not much to add to this one, other than Fox Graham is my middle and last name

 The House Graham crest that I've been using for a few years appears on Athena's belt here:

The House Crest Motto:

Appears here:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

We're having a baby




"Open Letter to the Women on Tinder" by Christopher Fox Graham

(a poem I wrote for a feature at Juniper House to subtly announce Laura and I were having a baby)

Maddy, 21, Northern Arizona University
while I find your pink hair punky and cute
and your nose piercing a subtle rebellion against your Baptist upbringing
that I would certainly encourage ...
perhaps too far ...
until your arms were awash
in a “Fuck Jesus” tattooed sleeve
we will show off to your parents at Thanksgiving

I must regretfully inform you
that as it happens, there is a redheaded woman
who has captured my interest
thus henceforth,
I will be unavailable to foster your personal experimentation

Kase, 34, UCLA
I noticed that you opt to spell K-A-S-E, sans accent mark,
thus I appreciate your sense of brevity 
and getting to the point
even in neglecting the apostrophe in “I’m” 
to save yourself a keystroke,
yet, it is my sad duty to report
that we will never clip sentences together,
as there happens to be woman in my life
of even shorter contextualization
who can speak volumes with a glance
hint with an eyebrow,
that today, of all Tuesdays,
there may be no panties beneath her skirt
and with a wink, 
invite me to wonder about that all afternoon

Sommer, 21, Northern Arizona University
I could have toyed with your name had met in the summer
but you spell it with an “O,” which is no season
your yoga backbend is impressive
and must have taken months to perfect,
let alone set up the camera,
but with sorrow,
which I also choose to spell with an “O”
that the woman who now shares my bed
can arch her back nearly as far,
but does so not to demonstrate impressive flexibility
but rather quite involuntarily
when I am in the picture
but my face out of frame
obscured by her thighs
but I will let slip that her toes curl
in much the same fashion

Mary, 25, no university listed
your come-hither looks will certainly draw the eyes
of the lover you seek,
though it is with some sadness 
that I have seen your photos before
under a different name
and I have reason to believe 
you may be a Russian hacker
attempting to steal my credit card number
that being said,
it is with some quiet joy that I must reveal
a woman with the same come-hither glance
can do so without a hint of deception
she can strip the secrecy from my tongue
and I have been unable to conjure any falsehoods in her arms

Heather, 30, Maricopa Community College
I must admit it was hard to get a look at you
because you were always slightly out of frame
so I had to puzzle-piece your face together
you should not fear the camera,
not with that kind smile,
but alas, I will be unable to help improve your photography skills
as there is a woman who currently eats up all my photo card memory
leaving me little room for anyone else

Laura, 26, Purdue
Your inviting smile
sitting on the edge of the bed
is coy, while still innocent
I’m certain your conversation would be equally enticing
but I, unfortunately, will never know,
as I have found a woman,
coincidently with your name
to whisper such conflictions into my ears
but, like you, she is a mother,
or at least soon will be
and I wonder if I love our child as you must love yours
I feel I must add at this junction that I will be deleting this app
as it no longer serve a purpose,
except to serve as the prompt for a poem