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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What I Believe

What I Believe:
A 500-word essay for Rebecca Allen

Every person is an artist

Beneath the layers of skin,
genetically imbedded in our evolution
is the need to create

all living things have one intention: to survive
they breed, kill competitors, protect offspring
knowing that even if the individual must die
the species survives
and with it, some remnant of the survivor

the quest for fame or immortality is no different
we want to survive
and knowing the body cannot, our art can
tied more completely to us
because over it, unlike genetics,
we have complete creative control

and if we can't be immortal
and only bear so many children
that drive to create and survive must release into art
or we'll go mad with yearning

the aesthetic too
is buried within us
that which is beautiful
we never want to leave:
lovers, landscapes, ecstasy, words and music
no one feels this as foreign

we want to feel the electricity and satisfaction of creation
that's why we invented god
because the sensation of making everything as we see fit
must feel transcendent

every person wants to be
Michelangelo, Mozart, Shakespeare,
Baryshnikov, da Vinci, Spielberg,
Tom Hanks, Pavarotti, Bill Gates,
Bob Dylan and a pregnant mother
all at once
but our mortal curse
is that we can not be

we all have stories
different experiences we can relate through speech and art
we differ from all other species
in that we can communicate across time
to those yet unborn
and those long dead
can tell us of life back then
a conversation is art
sounds creating visual images
depicting wit and irony
which we can laugh at
or a tragedy that can cause tears
we want to see, touch, taste and live it all
in every body, place, time, age and culture
but since we can't,
we want to be told
and live vicariously through the art

every human life is a epic tale of
war, loss and victory,
love and strife
we are all warrior poets
destined for royal thrones
in whatever realm we create
be it the page, the battlefield, the bedroom, or our daily insanities

those who aren't artists
aren't looking hard enough
and those who aren't skilled
aren't practicing enough

natural gifts and intuition go a long way
but the brilliance of the great artists
can be taught
if the student is unhindered, fearless, patient and dedicated

know that all things human
institutions, traditions, and technology
were made by overgrown children
that anyone can learn
and we change it all if want
the key is to gain collective agreement
the goal is getting others to see our logic
either rationally or emotionally
but the medium is art, language or otherwise

art is as important as air, water, food, shelter, warmth
we want to love and be loved in return
by family, lover and tribe
for what we create and provide
art makes us immortal
as if we don't live and die in vain
the only people who aren't artists
are already dead or as yet unborn

Monday, January 15, 2007

Summer Weekends

For Rebecca Allen

summer weekends
should sweetly stick lovers in the anxious embrace
they have held for days
and when the constraints
of minute hand and second hand take reprieve
the resulting cataclysm of hips and tongues
should shake the foundations
and wake the neighbors

but today, I wake alone
she loves me more
but loves him now
-- in this western desert town,
we take what we can get
because the dreams are better
then the lonely surrender
nd nothing is worth moving to the eastern cities

I'll take momentary happinesses
to stand close to her warmth
press my nose to her blueblood figure
and inhale that which may be mine
if the mathematics of time
and the chess of bodies puts her close to me
a wisp of imagination
outweighs all the metaphors for surrender

I wish I could share an honest moment with him
speak without the inferences of it in his suspicions
tell him like a prophet
but he has a poet's envy
but such things are not meant to last
because her belly burns for more:
a lush pen-in-hand interp of her punk rock passions
and non-segued speech with a loose-cannon tongue

she'll find her way home
when the vacation loses its summer glimmer
"hold fast, hold fast, hold fast
to the dreams of her"
the manta repeats cyclically
she's not that far
in this town has a thing for reincarnation
it's all B.S., I say,
but the desperation holds onto anything it can reach
and I'm at that place now
the groundskeepers always have kind words
and escaping from the longsleeved, buckled jackets
gives me something to do

shame's a silly thing
disappearing once you stop believing in it,
and instead enjoying playing cards with Santa Claus
a chocoholic bunny
and a winged dentist
with a penchant for baby teeth

hold fast, hold fast, hold fast,
time's a measurable variable,
solve, then counter,
and equations subtracts the superfluous lovers
deletes the brevity of summer
but the consistency of yearly fluctuations
leaving the simplicity of the answer:
there's no need for trigonometry when algebra will do

he's got no tricks up his sleeve
the warranty will soon expire
and toys only last so long
lovers and bone and breath,
flesh and whispers
to satisfy their boredom
with interactivity

I have faith in blind hope
and the mathematics of men
that Kasparov would admire
and our neighbors are buying earmuffs in anticipation

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Obligation of Artists: Why Christopher Lane has betrayed NORAZ Poets and poetry

What is the obligation of artists?

First, to answer the voice within and interpret it into your expression, be it music, poetry, dance, pottery, drawing or photography.

Second, relate joy of the human experience to any and all who will listen or look. The goal is to instill in the audience of one or thousands the same feeling the artist had when they created the art.

Third, enrich one's tribe, community, nation and world though shared human expression.

When an artist loses sight of any one of these obligations, we, as artists, see a tragedy.

When an artist willingly denies these obligations in the name of self-interest or self-promotion, we, as artists, see arrogance.

When an artist, regardless of talent, would rather charge than create while still proclaiming allegiance to these obligations, we, as artists, see hypocrisy.

When an artist, especially one who leads other artists, would deny youth the talent imbued by the creator, or the muse, or simple genetics, we, as artists, see usurpation of that gift and should demand .

If a school contacts the leader of a supposed nonprofit arts community and asks for that artist and others to display that gift for youth, and is denied for insufficient funds, namely Southwestern Academy, NORAZ Poets and $800, then the leader of that organization betrays not himself, but also his talent and his personal obligation to represent those artists.

All artists are free to make money from their work, just as with any form of work. Art is labor-intensive, emotionally draining, and in some cases, even life-threatening. However, an artist's words are not all that threatened in the posh surroundings of the Verde Valley.

An it's not as though the aforementioned nonprofit has made a stand toward these three obligations, unless, of course, one were to read the organization's mission statement:

"The NORAZ Poets Southwest™ vision is to provide the community with clear and concise information about poetry events throughout the Southwest. We will empower others, by making poetry more accessible."

"We will help make our communities' quality of life better, by using poetry. We will help our communities to pursue their creative goals through program development, readings, and other performance mediums."

"But above all, we wish to give back to our communities what they have given us -- the inspiration and means to create the written and spoken word."

You betray poetry, Mr. Lane.
You betray your community, Mr. Lane.
You betray yourself.