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.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, March 9, to select three representatives to send to BlackBerry Peach National Poetry Slam's Arizona State Championships

With the fourth poetry slam of the Sedona Poetry Slam's 15th season, performance poets will bring high-energy, competitive spoken word to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Saturday, March 9, starting at 7:30 p.m. 

The top three poets at this slam with earn spots to compete at the BlackBerry Peach Poetry Slam's Arizona Championship, to be held at the Rebel Lounge in Phoenix in April. 

Open Slam

Anyone can compete in a poetry slam if they have poems to read and the courage to get on stage. A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. Anyone can sign up to compete in the slam 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.

Sondraya Bradley, photo by David Jolkovski/Larson Newspapers

Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. Poets 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. 

Tempest Juliet, photo by David Jolkovski/Larson Newspapers

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.

Valence, photo by David Jolkovski/Larson Newspapers

Mary D. Fisher Theatre is located at 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona. Tickets are $12. For tickets, call 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org.

Steven Ojeda, photo by David Jolkovski/Larson Newspapers

The next poetry slams of the season will be held on 

  • Saturday, April 13, featuring Briana Grace Hammerstrom of Portland. Ore., by way of Flagstaff; 
  • Saturday, May 11; 
  • and finally on Saturday, June 8.

Lydia Gates, photo by David Jolkovski/Larson Newspapers

The February poetry slam selected three poets — Lydia Gates, Josh Wiss and Tyler “Valence” Sirvinskas — who will be representing Sedona at the All-Arizona Poetry Slam Championship in Maricopa in March.

Josh Wiss, photo by David Jolkovski/Larson Newspapers

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

Email foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up early to compete or by the Friday before the slam or at the door the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. 

MC Tristan Marshell, photo by David Jolkovski/Larson Newspapers


For more information, visit sedonafilmfestival.com or foxthepoet.blogspot.com. For a full list of slam poetry events in Arizona, visit azpoet.com.


BlackBerry Peach

The top three poets will earn Sedona's three spots at the BlackBerry Peach National Poetry Slam's Arizona State Championships, sponsored by the Arizona State Poetry Society.

Three poets each from open poetry slams in Sedona, Mesa, Prescott, Phoenix and Flagstaff will compete at the 15-poet slam held by Ghost Poetry Slam and hosted by Ben “B-Jam” Gardea. 

The overall state champion will win trip sponsored by the ASPS to represent Arizona at the National Federation of State Poetry Societies' BlackBerry Peach National Slam from June 5 to 8 in Roswell, Ga.

B-Jam, photo by Sedona Poetry Slam

A regular competitor at the Sedona Poetry Slam, B-Jam is a Phoenix native, married father of three children. Gardea overcame both alcoholism and a rare hip disease that made him unable to walk. After getting sober and a total hip replacement, he had two goals: To share his poetry and and hike a mountain in Sedona. Three years later, B-Jam is the 2023 ASPS State Poetry Slam champion, ranked 10th nationally and has curated writers workshops, featured at poetry events, won a grant to publish a poetry book and is the host and producer of the popular PHX Poetry Slam.

“Poetry has changed my life and I want to be a caretaker of the artform for future generations to explore and become part of, because I know that poetry can make the most profound impact on human beings,” B-Jam said. 

B-Jam, photo by Sedona Poetry Slam

What is Poetry Slam? 

Founded at the Green Mill Tavern in Chicago in 1984 by Marc Smith, 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.

Host Christopher Fox Graham, photo by David Jolkovski/Larson Newspapers

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 Winter Olympics, performed at the White House and at the United Nations General Assembly and were featured on "Russell Simmons' Def Poets" on HBO.

Stacy Eden, photo by David Jolkovski/Larson Newspapers

Sedona has sent four-poet teams to represent the city at the National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., Boston, Cambridge, Mass., Oakland, Calif., Decatur, Ga., Denver and Chicago.

Randy Morris, photo by David Jolkovski/Larson Newspapers

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Buddy Wakefield: "A Waste" in Round 2 of the 2004 iWPS in Greenville, SC

Taylor Mali, MC, introduces Buddy Wakefield who performs "A Waste" in Round 2 of the 2004 iWPS in Greenville, SC
Videographers: Gabrielle Bouliane and Tazuo Yamaguchi 


BUDDY WAKEFIELD is an actor, writer, producer, and three-time world champion spoken word artist featured on the BBC, HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, ABC Radio National and has been signed to both Sage Francis’ Strange Famous Records as well as Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records. In 2004 he won the first Individual World Poetry Slam Finals thanks to the support of anthropologist and producer Norman Lear, then went on to share the stage with nearly every notable performance poet in the world in over 2000 venues internationally from The Great Lawn of Central Park, Zimbabwe’s Shoko Festival and Scotland’s Oran Mor to San Quentin State Penitentiary, House of Blues New Orleans and The Basement in Sydney, Australia.

Buddy has been a busker in Amsterdam, a street vendor in Spain, a team leader in Singapore, a re-delivery boy, a candy maker, a street sweeper, a bartender, a maid, a construction worker, a bull rider, a notably slow triathlete, a facilitator at Quantum Learning Network, and is the most toured performance poet in history. He is the founder of Awful Good Writers, and the producer and host of Heavy Hitters Festival 2020, a summer-long series of online shows and workshops featuring thirty of the most beloved performance poets alive.

The inaugural author released on Write Bloody Publishing, and an original Board of Directors member with Youth Speaks Seattle, Buddy is published in dozens of books internationally with work used to win multiple national collegiate debate and forensics competitions. His first short film, Farmly, directed by Jamie DeWolf, won Best of Texas at the Literally Short Film Fest, and the USA Film Festival.

In the spring of 2001 Buddy left his position as the executive assistant at a biomedical firm in Gig Harbor, WA, sold or gave away everything he owned, moved to the small town of Honda Civic, then set out to live for a living. His aim was to tour North American poetry venues for two years. He did not stop. Wakefield, who isn’t concerned with what poetry is or is not, delivers raw, rounded, disarming performances of humor and heart. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Sedona Poetry Slam on Feb. 3 will select three poets for the All-Arizona Championship Poetry Slam


Performance poets will compete for the third time this season, bringing high-energy, competitive spoken word to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3.

B-Jam

The top three poets will be representing Sedona at the All-Arizona Championship Poetry Slam that will be held in the town of Maricopa on March 9.

Lydia Gates

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. Anyone can sign up to compete in the slam for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. 

R.J. Walker, a featured poet from St. Lake City, performed Jan. 13.

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.

Sondraya Bradley

Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. Poets 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. 

Josh Wiss

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. 

Raina Jane

All poets get three minutes per round to entertain and inspire the audience with their creativity.


The Mary D. Fisher Theatre is located at 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona. Tickets are $12. For tickets, call 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org.

Kate Martin

The next poetry slam of the season will be held on Saturdays, March 9; April 13, featuring Briana Grace Hammerstrom of Portland. Ore., by way of Flagstaff, May 11 and finally on June 8.

Roger Blakiston

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

Cylie Lawrence

Email foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up early to compete or by the Friday before the slam or at the door the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. 

Damien Matthews

For more information, visit sedonafilmfestival.com or foxthepoet.blogspot.com. For a full list of slam poetry events in Arizona, visit azpoet.com.


All-Arizona Championship Poetry Slam

The All-Arizona Championship Poetry Slam will take place Saturday, March 9, at the Global Water Maricopa Center in the town of Maricopa. Poets from around the state will compete in slams held in four communities — Sedona, Flagstaff, Maricopa and Prescott — with each selecting their top three poets to send to the finals, in addition to drawing for the final three slots.

The 15 poets will compete in the championships hosted by Thomas Cooper, a slam poet from the Phoenix area who has represented Arizona a several regional events, and who made it to the finals ot the  Bigfoot Poetry Slam in Oregon. Cooper has coached youth slam teams, featured at events, judged slams and hosted events, which is now his focus.

Founded in 2018 and formerly hosted the late Arizona slam poetry legend Bernard “The Klute” Schober, the All-Arizona Championship is sponsored by the Maricopa Arts Council and the city of Maricopa.



What is Poetry Slam? 

Founded at the Green Mill Tavern in Chicago in 1984 by Marc Smith, 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 Winter Olympics, performed at the White House and at the United Nations General Assembly and were featured on "Russell Simmons' Def Poets" on HBO.

Sedona has sent four-poet teams to represent the city at the National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., Boston, Cambridge, Mass., Oakland, Calif., Decatur, Ga., Denver and Chicago.

Lydia Gates


Monday, January 15, 2024

"Langston" by Christopher Fox Graham

"Langston"

by Christopher Fox Graham

for one little girl
growing up in the segregated South,
Langston was her favorite 

Poet Langston Hughes signs autographs for young fans.
Photograph by Griffith J. Davis/Griffith J. Davis Photographs and Archives

in the Heart of Harlem
top floor 20 East 127th
Hughes howled for dreams deferred
in eleven revolutions 
the stinking rotten meat of Jim Crow
festering like a sore
running north from Joplin to New York
like he did
redlining himself into the Renaissance 
and a coming revolution

The Langston Hughes House is a historic home located in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City. It is an Italianate style dwelling built in 1869. It is a three story with basement, rowhouse faced in brownstone and measuring 20 feet wide and 45 feet deep. Noted African American poet and author Langston Hughes (1902–1967) occupied the top floor as his workroom from 1947 to 1967


Hughes found his home in Harlem
and “Harlem” found its home
in the anthologies and college textbooks
where the dream could sag like a heavy load


and one little girl
growing up in the segregated South,
handwrote her favorite:

“A world I dream where
               black or white,
“Whatever race you be,
“Will share the bounties of 
              the earth
“And every man is free,”



Hughes and King
the New Yorker and Alabaman
the communist and the Christian
traded stanzas and sermons

Poet Langston Hughes [Feb. 1, 1901-May 22, 1967], left, was called the father of the Harlem Renaisssance literary and arts movement. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. [Jan. 15, 1929-April 4, 1968] led the Civil Rights Movement until his assassination. Photo of Langston Hughes courtesy of Carl Van Vechten/Carl Van Vechten Trust/Beinecke Library, Yale Photo of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. courtesy of Marion S. Trikosko

In Lorraine Hansberry’s hands,
Hughes’ “Harlem” dried up
and tasted like a "Raisin in the Sun"


from the pulpit at Dexter Avenue Baptist,
in the heart of Montgomery
became the revolution’s war cry


in the hands 
of an Alabama preacher
with an army of churches at his back 
a dream deferred 
called all kinds of names
riding in the back end of the bus for no reason
swimming with its head deep under water
given no release

must explode

Emmitt Till in a casket
George Wallace in a doorway
John Lewis across a bridge in Selma

racial slurs from schoolchildren
like 6-year-olds always are

an army unto herself

President Barack Obama, Ruby Bridges and representatives of the Norman Rockwell Museum view Rockwell’s "The Problem We All Live With,” hanging in a West Wing hallway near the Oval Office, July 15, 2011. Bridges is the girl portrayed the painting, then 6-years-old, on her way to William Frantz Elementary School, an all-white public school, on Nov. 14, 1960, during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis. She was escorted by four deputy U.S. marshals
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza


“Emancipator looking down on demonstrators." Participants in the March on Washington in front of the Lincoln Memorial and massed along both sides of the Reflecting Pool, viewed from behind Abraham Lincoln statue” on Aug. 28, 1963. 
Photo by James K. Atherton for United Press International/Shorpy

the preacher turned revolution back into poetry
made a dream deferred into dream to come
into freedom ringing



there was one little girl
growing up in the segregated South,
who said Langston was her favorite

she collected, annotated and footnoted his poems
worn the pages rough in her collection
left bookmarks with her favorites

“Sunday Morning Prophesy”

“I, Too”


added the poems the editors omitted,
for a grandson unborn
in case he became a poet
or led a revolution

she heard him read poems, once 
killed four little girls

she heard him read poems, once
on a tour in Atlanta

sharing dreams so syrupy sweet
they would crust and sugar over
into a revolution burning
from her Atlanta
in the segregated South 
to his Harlem

Born in Joplin, Mo., Langston Hughes moved to New York City in 1947, and lived of his time in the city in the top apartment at 20 E. 127th Street in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, N.Y., until his death in May 1967. Photo by Robert W. Kelley/The Life Picture Collection


Langston spoke to her,
the way no other poet did

Langston was her favorite 
"which no one could imagine"
she said, 
a little white girl
growing up in the segregated South


she never met my son
she died 8 months before he was born
to honor him
to remember her
not for the revolution
but for their dream

Sylvia Rebie Redfield (December 14, 1925 - July 28, 2021)

of all her great-grandchilren
Langston 
would be her favorite

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Salt Lake City poetry slam powerhouse R.J. Walker features at Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, Jan. 13

 With 2023 in the rear-view mirror and 2024 underway, the Sedona Poetry Slam enters its 15th season (but 16th year!) of performance poets bringing high-energy, competitive spoken word to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13.

Between rounds, Salt Lake City spoken word powerhouse R.J. Walker will perform a featured set. A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. Anyone can sign up to compete in the slam for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize.

R.J. Walker

RJ Walker is a performance poet and voice actor from Salt Lake City, Utah. Walker has performed at the National Poetry Slam numerous times, representing Salt Lake City and Sugar House Utah. At the Individual World Poetry Slam he was a showcased poet on final stage and placed sixth overall at the 2017 Individual world poetry slam.

 

Walker won the NPS Spirit of the Slam award for organizing the first Compliment Deathmatch event. 

   


The next year he placed fourth at the National Poetry Slam with the Salt City Unified team. He is a winner of the Button Poetry video contest.

   

In Salt Lake City, Walker is the host and operator of The Greenhouse Effect Open Mic, SLC’s longest running open mic style event. Walker is a TEDX SLC speaker and was a keynote speaker for the League of Utah Writers’ Quills Conference.
>Outside of poetry, Walker has narrated over 30 audiobooks, designed escape rooms, written murder mystery adventures, designed alternate reality games that take players on adventures through the urban exploration of Salt Lake City and written five produced plays for Salt Lake Community College, Wasatch Theatre Company and The Utah Arts Alliance.

   

 He is an Irene Ryan-nominated actor and an ACTF finalist in playwriting. He is also a runner up for the ACTF devised theatre competition.
Currently on the creative team for The Box theatre, Walker serves as a playwright in residence and is the executive director of Lords of Misrule theatre company which pioneers mutual-aid focused theatre arts.


Open Slam

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.
Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. Poets 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. 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.

   

Mary D. Fisher Theatre is located at 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona. Tickets are $12. For tickets, call 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org. The next poetry slams of the season will be held on Saturdays, Feb. 3; March 9; April 13, featuring Briana Grace Hammerstrom of Portland. Ore., by way of Flagstaff, May 11 and finally on June 8. The prize money is funded in part by a donation from Verde Valley poetry supporters Jeanne and Jim Freeland. Email foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up early to compete or by the Friday before the slam or at the door the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. >For more information, visit sedonafilmfestival.com or foxthepoet.blogspot.com. a href="https://www.azpoet.com/" target="_blank">For a full list of slam poetry events in Arizona, visit azpoet.com.

What is Poetry Slam?

Founded at the Green Mill Tavern in Chicago in 1984 by Marc Smith, 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 Winter Olympics, performed at the White House and at the United Nations General Assembly and were featured on "Russell Simmons' Def Poets" on HBO. Sedona has sent four-poet teams to represent the city at the National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., Boston, Cambridge, Mass., Oakland, Calif., Decatur, Ga., Denver and Chicago.