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.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Slam poet Shane Koyczan performs poetry at 2010 Olympics

Photo by Christine McAvoy

Being in head-over-heels love with a Canadian girl, Azami, made me unusually attuned to the Canadian-ness surrounding me, i.e., I've noticed more Canadian license plates in Sedona in the last month than the last six years.

It also seems fitting the 2010 Winter Olympics are being held in Vancouver, British Columbia, only months after I fell in love with her. Serendipity.

So imagine how cool it was to see that the Opening Ceremonies featured Vancouver slam poet Shane Koyczan, who I met at the 2001 National Poetry Slam in Seattle. Koyczan also won the individual poetry slam championship Providence, R.I., in 2000. And Azami has met him as well. So here we are, sharing a common love of poetry and first-hand knowledge of a particular poet performing in her country in my art form. Vicariously sharing our "passions," as it were - Canada and poetry - with the world.

I have written about Shane Koyczan's brilliance before in my blog "Grandma's Got it Going On (Rise and Shine)", "Haiku videos" and "Beethovan."

The poem Shane Koyczan performed at the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies on Feb. 12:

Photo by Michelle Mayne

"We Are More" (audio)
by Shane Koyczan
When defining Canada
you might list some statistics
you might mention our tallest building
or biggest lake
you might shake a tree in the fall
and call a red leaf
you might rattle off some celebrities
might mention Buffy Sainte-Marie
might even mention the fact that we’ve got a few
Barenaked Ladies
or that we made these crazy things
like zippers
electric cars
and washing machines
when defining Canada
it seems the world’s anthem has been
” been there done that”
and maybe that’s where we used to be at
it’s true
we’ve done and we’ve been
we’ve seen
all the great themes get swallowed up by the machine
and turned into theme parks
but when defining Canada
don’t forget to mention that we have set sparks

we are not just fishing stories
about the one that got away
we do more than sit around and say “eh?”
and yes

we are the home of the Rocket and the Great One
who inspired little number nines
and little number ninety-nines
but we’re more than just hockey and fishing lines
off of the rocky coast of the Maritimes
and some say what defines us
is something as simple as please and thank you
and as for you’re welcome
well we say that too
but we are more
than genteel or civilized
we are an idea in the process
of being realized
we are young
we are cultures strung together
then woven into a tapestry
and the design
is what makes us more
than the sum total of our history
we are an experiment going right for a change
with influences that range from a to zed
and yes we say zed instead of zee
we are the colours of Chinatown and the coffee of Little Italy
we dream so big that there are those
who would call our ambition an industry
because we are more than sticky maple syrup and clean snow
we do more than grow wheat and brew beer
we are vineyards of good year after good year
we reforest what we clear
because we believe in generations beyond our own
knowing now that so many of us
have grown past what used to be
we can stand here today

filled with all the hope people have
when they say things like “someday”

someday we’ll be great
someday we’ll be this
or that
someday we’ll be at a point
when someday was yesterday
and all of our aspirations will pay the way
for those who on that day
look towards tomorrow
and still they say someday

we will reach the goals we set
and we will get interest on our inspiration
because we are more than a nation of whale watchers and lumberjacks
more than backpacks and hiking trails
we are hammers and nails building bridges
towards those who are willing to walk across
we are the lost-and-found for all those who might find themselves at a loss
we are not the see-through gloss or glamour
of those who clamour for the failings of others
we are fathers brothers sisters and mothers
uncles and nephews aunts and nieces
we are cousins
we are found missing puzzle pieces
we are families with room at the table for newcomers
we are more than summers and winters
more than on and off seasons
we are the reasons people have for wanting to stay
because we are more than what we say or do
we live to get past what we go through

and learn who we are
we are students
students who study the studiousness of studying
so we know what as well as why
we don’t have all the answers
but we try
and the effort is what makes us more
we don’t all know what it is in life we’re looking for
so keep exploring
go far and wide
or go inside but go deep
go deep
as if James Cameron was filming a sequel to The Abyss
and suddenly there was this location scout
trying to figure some way out
to get inside you
because you’ve been through hell and high water
and you went deep
keep exploring
because we are more
than a laundry list of things to do and places to see
we are more than hills to ski
or countryside ponds to skate
we are the abandoned hesitation of all those who can’t wait
we are first-rate greasy-spoon diners and healthy-living cafes
a country that is all the ways you choose to live
a land that can give you variety
because we are choices
we are millions upon millions of voices shouting
” keep exploring… we are more”
we are the surprise the world has in store for you
it’s true

Canada is the “what” in “what’s new?”
so don’t say “been there done that”
unless you’ve sat on the sidewalk
while chalk artists draw still lifes
on the concrete of a kid in the street
beatboxing to Neil Young for fun
don’t say you’ve been there done that
unless you’ve been here doing it
let this country be your first-aid kit
for all the times you get sick of the same old same old
let us be the story told to your friends
and when that story ends
leave chapters for the next time you’ll come back
next time pack for all the things
you didn’t pack for the first time
but don’t let your luggage define your travels
each life unravels differently
and experiences are what make up
the colours of our tapestry
we are the true north
strong and free
and what’s more
is that we didn’t just say it
we made it be.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Who is Azami?

While most people met the whirlwind amazingness that is Azami, my Canadian love who started as a house guest, or more correctly, in the tent in the Willow Way Hotel back yard, she quickly became a major part of my life.

For 2 1/2 months I had a best friend and partner in crime.

But who is Azami?

Azami has kicked off a new blog, Always Homeward Bound (Always HoBo), that answers the question by showing her travels as a "burner" at Burning Man as an Elections Observer in El Salvador, and hitchhiking trips through Guatemala, Canada, and the United States.

And, yes, she's coming back to Sedona. She leaves Toronto on Friday and I'll be picking her up in Las Vegas in the wee hours of the morning Saturday and bringing her back home to Sedona.

Visit her blog, Always Homeward Bound, and learn more about what living as full-time, international hitchhicker and free spirit is like.

My Michael Moore interview happens tomorrow

My interview with Michael Moore should happen tomorrow. If you have any questions you've always wanted to ask him, comment on my blog post ASAP and I'll try to include them all.

I have about 30 great questions generated by those who follow my blog or through Facebook, but more for Moore will make the interview more Moorawesome.

Moore is coming to Sedona for the 16th annual Sedona International Film Festival and I'm interviewing him for a story in Sedona Rock Rock News. Be sure and pick up the Friday, Feb. 19, edition for the whole interview.

Michael Moore was born in Flint, Michigan April 23, 1954. He studied journalism at the University of Michigan-Flint, and also pursued other hobbies such as gun shooting, for which he even won a competition.

Moore began his journalistic career writing for the school newspaper The Michigan Times, and after dropping out of college briefly worked as editor for Mother Jones.

He then turned to filmmaking, and to earn the money for the budget of his first film Roger & Me (1989) he ran neighborhood bingo games. The success of this film launched his career as one of America's best-known and most controversial documentarians. He has produced a string of documentary films and TV series about the same subject: attacks on corrupt politicians and greedy business corporations.

He landed his first big hit with Bowling for Columbine (2002) about guns in America, which earned him an Oscar and a big reputation.

He then shook the world with his even bigger hit Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), targeting President George W. Bush and the Bush Administration. This is the highest-grossing documentary of all time.

Sicko (2007) investigates Health care in the United States, focusing on its health insurance and pharmaceutical industry. The film compares the for-profit, non-universal U.S. system with the non-profit universal health care systems of Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Cuba.

Capitalism: A Love Story (2009) centers on the financial crisis of 2007–2010 and the recovery stimulus, while putting forward an indictment of the current economic order in the United States and capitalism in general.

Moore is known for having the guts to give his opinion in public, which not many people are courageous enough to do, and for that is respected by many.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Help me interview Michael Moore

I will be interviewing filmmaker Michael Moore, who is coming to Sedona for the 16th annual Sedona International Film Festival, set for Sunday, Feb. 21, to Sunday, Feb. 28.

I have a list of questions I've always wanted to ask, but do you?

Moore will be the festival's special guest, screening "Capitalism: A Love Story" at Harkins Theatres.

Film festival director Patrick Schweiss set me up with an interview of Moore that will appear before the festival in the Sedona Red Rock News.

If you have questions you want me to ask filmmaker Michael Moore during my interview, e-mail them to me at (Subject: "Michael Moore Questions") or comment on my blog by Friday, Feb. 12, and I will try to include most of them during my interview.

Even if they do not appear in the final print edition of the Sedona Red Rock News, I will get you his answers.

Waiting for You Haiku

Waiting for You Haiku

Measure time in days;
It's easier than counting
Unanswered heartbeats

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Envisioning Your Return

Envisioning your return
before the Boeing touches down on tarmac
when fuselage doors kiss jetbridge lips,
the long tongue brings you inside the terminal
the screenwriter of my imagination
writes the thousand variations of our reunion

you'll drop your bag at the first sight of me
run unabashedly into my longing arms,
shoving bystanders aside like wheat
as your Anemoid spirit —
transformed from Eurus into Zephyr by a layover
and all the metaphors that entails —
obliviously brushes them aside
in the eager anticipation of my embrace
in all likelihood,
my Jedi reflexes will fail at the moment of impact
and we'll collide with the Earth as meteors
your giggles replacing the "timber!" of lumberjacks
bystanders will Polaroid the moment
add anecdotes to their dull lives
so that in decades hence,
when asked by grandchildren what love is
they'll ponder and remember
relate a moment they saw on a promenade
when spacetime became an irrelevant hindrance
to two strangers who could not be held apart any longer
crashing into over-vacuumed carpet
leaving an impact crater that echoed joy for days

but maybe you'll be stationary,
and I, unable to wait another moment
will hurdle chairs as an Olympian yearning for gold accolades
or streak frantic-mad as a Berliner at Checkpoint Charlie
or a Jew at Sobibor, dodging abandoned luggage like mines
as though your arms are my only chance at freedom,
peripherally blind to the passersby
feet achieving speeds akin to Superman or the Flash
security would reach toward Tazers or radios
thinking I had homicide on my mind,
until I stop short of you
wrap arms parentally around your small frame
as if a refuge father wanted to banish any fear of orphanhood
vault you into the air,
bring your lips to mine
transform the terminal into a bedchamber
unusually populated at this time of night
and swallow your breath
to taste all the words you longed to say in person
whispered into the Canadian wind too long
fill you with all the unspoken poems
kept gestating in my belly
burst them back into you mouth
with my Morse code tongue
while security,
seeing berserker rage transmogrify into unshielded joy
before they could bring guns to bear
would relent as pulses return to humdrum levels
while at the center of the world,
we'd stand still,
letting it all spin at epic speed
making dizzy those around us

but perhaps the moment would be more tame
something from a yuppie romantic film
I'd sit in the trendy coffeehouse
sipping cappuccino and reading The New York Times
as if I'd brought the paper from my driveway
comment to the barista about faraway places
I'd seen on business trips,
"I've been to a café down the street from this bombing,
so sad, so sad,"
and wax philosophical about days long past
you'd approach, drop your bag along the table,
I'd look up, quote a headline,
or ask for a crossword clue,
you'd reply with an answer that fit the spaces,
but metaphorically encapsulate our relationship,
like "destined" or "prophetic" or "sui generis"
I'd pencil it in, aware of the subtext
and that the word wasn't the answer to the clue —
the "e" turns "mate" into "mete" —
but the answer to us
then ask about your trip home to me
as though you'd made it a hundred times before
you'd complain about the in-flight film
laugh about playing pattycake with a 6-year-old at 40,000 feet
then ask where I'd parked the truck
we'd stroll out, arm in arm
like 60-year-old lovers who'd always been
while the barista's next customers would order mochas
and wonder about our youthful love
unaware of our underlying plot

rather, you'd find a quiet bar
between gate and baggage claim
and I'd see you in the shadows of mood-rich track lights
move in like Casanova,
order a pinot noir and dirty martini
stroll strangerlike to your table
ask unassumingly if "is this seat taken?"
pitch a half-hearted pickup line
nothing too obvious or offensive
offer the wine or gin,
whatever your taste
and make small talk
you'd say you're a college professor,
here to speak about the nuances of Joseph Campbell
in the mythos of Kerauoc and the Beats
as it relates to modern pop culture and the idealized rebel
I'd pretend to comprehend,
then explain I was an architect
recently returned from a conference on New Urbanism
chaired by spouses Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk,
with whom I enjoyed a drink the night before in Miami,
I'd discuss walkable neighborhoods and pedestrian spaces,
you'd say James Dean played the role but missed the intent
but we'd both find common ground
in having recently read "Love in the Time of Cholera,"
and mutually vowing to never wait as long as Fermina and Florentino
we'll look into each other's eyes
and a moment would last too long
before we'd break away
you'd say you would have to be going,
find a taxi to your hotel,
while I'd offer a you a lift,
it's on my way, and I know a little bar near it,
you'd hesitate, then acquiesce,
in hopes of another longing look
I'd fumble for my keys
and hope there was a little bar nearby
because I've never anywhere near there,
and my house is on the other side of town
but your eyes are worth the drive

perchance I'd simply stand stoically,
sly smile painted on lips
slowstep at a glacial pace,
and meet in the middle
I'd say this was as I'd foreseen
you'd ask how long
I'd smile, look away, and tell you the moment it first came
you'd ask why lips had shuttered before the telling,
I'd say no one believes Cassandra
who saw Troy burn before Agamemnon set sail
you'd ask for all my secrets
and this time I'd tell
catch the other shoe before it fell
and change destinies

knowing your games, however,
you'd walk on by, making me a stranger,
I'd ask if you were looking for someone
you'd reply, a boy, who hadn't come,
I'd ask his description which would eerily resemble mine
you'd throw up arms in jest
unable to believe he'd done it again,
left you somewhere strange
while I'd ask if I could take his place
his loss, my gain

instead, when you come within earshot,
I'll leap atop a counter
address passengers and well-wishers
ask for forgiveness for what they're about to hear
pull a poem from my back pocket
toss out dry erase boards to five strangers
and slam verses as though this terminal
was the NPS finals' stage
and we're in second place,
needing a 29.9 to tie, but a 30 to win
spout metaphors about a girl I loved,
who left me standing naked in my skin
on the side of the road as she left too soon,
turning in the ether of a mirage
as I couldn't stop her
chest damp with our shared tears
mixed like blood in a John Donne poem
about a flea and two lovers
I once read her
the poem would slam itself, I'd be told later
by those who understood the reference
and you, red-faced and embarrassed at my pronouncements
would see the gesture romantic even if foolhardy
hoping I'd quit soon, but still love the moment,
as something we'd whisper about later under covers
some Sunday morning weeks ahead
the point wasn't the points, but the poetry
which strangers would quote to their lovers
pretending it their own

but all these visions conclude
I watch too many movies

instead, I'd prefer a reunion our way:
across the terminal, in the back our minds
as you leave transport and I approach the gate
we'd feel a disturbance in the Force
a trembling in the air around us,
dart senses warily around the inevitable battlefield
lock eyes across the distance
as all else fades into shadow,
simultaneous "snap-hiss" of lightsabers
mine in cobalt blue,
yours in royal violet
dash madly toward each other
and leap above civilians in the last stretch,
cross blades mid-air
I'd tumble into luggage
you'd somersault into strangers,
unperturbed, we'd resume
slash, parry, thrust, passata-sotto, spin
beat, riposte, lunge, redoublement, in quartata
flèche, croisé, quinte
and blades lock as bystanders stand in awe
having never seen Jedi spar except on celluloid
"been too long, Azami"
"yes, it has, Cyph"
then hiss-snap as blades retract
fall to floor like shooting stars
kisses collide with more power than Death Stars
sending shockwaves across the galaxy
from Endor to Korriban
Sith Lords shudder on their thrones
Cylons cower in their chasses
Vorlons feel the urge to flee
knowing the Jedi have returned
and on a tiny corner
of a tiny world
you and I find home is shared heartbeats
after too many moments apart