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, June 29, 2011

Azami, if she were an animated girlfriend

What was it like to date Azami?

Kind of like this, in a totally fun way. I'm actually more surprised more people didn't have a crush on that girl squirrel growing up, but not in a cross-species bestiality way, but in an if-I-were-a-squirrel-I-would-want-a-squirrel-girlfriend-like-that kind of way.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Utah Arts Festival afterparty cypher

A cypher in poetry slam is the name given to a circle of poets who take turns reciting poems, usually occurring at an afterparty.

The ground rules are usually once one gets started, the audience remains quiet and attentive, although drinking and imbibing are by all means not discouraged.

Sometimes if the cypher is chaotic, there is an MC of sorts who picks the next poet, other times (usually at calmer events or those with seasoned slam poets) the poet performing chooses the next poet. It's usually a profoundly democratic system even when the room is bordering on a collective 0.12 blood alcohol content.

If you get chosen, you perform one poem. It's generally good form to perform a "new" poem the room did not hear earlier in the slam, unless it's specifically requested by the crowd. When complete, it's good etiquette to chose a poet you haven't heard, don't know, or who isn't from your home venue or home city. This serves to emphasize the camaraderie of the Slam Family, or "Slamily," because even though we are cutthroats with strategy when on stage, we are really artists off stage who just want to share our words.

Those poets and non who think slam is too competitive an art form or full of unyielding egos (ex-girlfriends, I'm winking at you) need to stick around and witness the community support and bohemian beauty what happens at a cypher. Deep down, afterparties and cyphers are the root of why we slam poets continually experience profound moments after slams and at regional and national bouts. This one (and the amazing slam) certainly made the nine-hour car trip from Sedona to Salt Lake City worth every mile.

Before the afterparty began, DeAnn Emett led Aaron Johnson and me on three block trek to buy alcohol from the state-owned liquor store, which closes at 10 p.m. The line is out the door. Anyone over 21 who enjoys alcohol in Utah should become a registered voter if they ever have to wait in a line like this. It felt like the last day before Prohibition.

Janelle Wilson from Boise, Idaho, "planking" on Lauren Perry from Phoenix

Cody Winger from Salt Lake City, left as Janelle Wilson, Tara Brenner and Cheryl Maddalena from Boise, Idaho, chat with The Klute from Phoenix.

Cheryl Maddalena, left, Cody Winger, (girl in a headscarf whose name I didn't get), Dominique Christina Ashaheed, Mikena Richardson, Levi Rogers (seated) and Lauren Perry (on the bed), listen to Jesse Parent perform at the start of the night's cypher.

Jesse Parent emotes

Dominique Christina Ashaheed performs

Lauren Perry performs

Aaron Johnson from Phoenix performs

Ayinde Russell performs

Ayinde Russell performs while Gray Brian looks off, contemplating the awesomeness of that belt buckle. My foot is bedecked in the Chuck Taylor at right.

The Klute, with his Cthulu T-shirt, performs

Tara Brenner performs

Cheryl Maddalena from Team Boise. Note the aforementioned "beautiful" tattoo in 200pt Times New Roman on her left arm.

Lauren Perry performs in her zombie tanktop.

Brian Franden

Adorable Rebeca Mae, Gray Brian's girlfriend, performs.

Leah Cronen from Bosie performs. Note to viewers: the city is pronounced "Boy-See," not "Boy-Zee"

Levi Rogers performs

The Klute with his "O" face, performing

Gray Brian performs

Josh McGillis performs via SmartPhone
And I passed out around 4 a.m., fully dressed.

Utah Arts Festival Team Poetry Slam, part two

Nick Shifrar Team 801 Underground, the Salt Lake City pickup team
Dominique Christina Ashaheed and Ayinde Russell from Denver's Slam NUBA with a poem about the use of music in fighting South African Apartheid.

DeAnn Emett, from the Salt City Slam, performing a poem about a murdered friend that only escalated in intensity as the poem went on. By the end, I thought her passion would burst a an artery.

My Tombstone Poets Slam Team captain, Lauren Perry, closing up our rotation as the first poet of the final round. Aaron Johnson, The Klute and I, having all been team captains before, came to Salt Lake with Lauren so she could have a go at calling the rotations and work on her slam team strategizing.

Tara Brenner, from team Boise, proclaiming her love of vampires, the real kind of Count Dracula/Court Orlok-type seducers, not pansy-ass Edward "Twilight" Cullen "I mourn my lost humanity and don't want to ravish you" vampires.

Host Dave McKnight

Jesse Parent and Cody Winger, from Salt City Slam.

Poet from 801 Underground, the Salt Lake City pickup team

Brando Chemtrails from team Slam NUBA

Round 1
Salt City Slam, Salt Lake City: Gray Brian, 29.0
801 Underground, Salt Lake City: Adam Love and Nick Shifrar, 28.5
Slam NUBA, Denver:
Tombstone Poets, Phoenix: Aaron Johnson, "Lightning" 29.4
Boise, Idaho: Cheryl Maddalena, 29.8

Round 2
801 Underground, Salt Lake City: 27.8
Slam NUBA, Denver: Brando Chemtrails, Ayinde Russell, Dominique Christina Ashaheed, Theo Wilson and Jovan Mays, 29.4
Tombstone Poets, Phoenix: Christopher Fox Graham, "Spinal Language" 28.6
Boise, Idaho: Brenda Ray, 29.3
Salt City Slam, Salt Lake City: Jesse Parent, Cody Winger, DeAnn Emett and Gary Brian, "I Am Legion," 30.0

Round 3
Slam NUBA, Denver: Ayinde Russell and Dominique Christina Ashaheed, 29.9
Tombstone Poets, Phoenix: The Klute, Aaron Johnson (beatboxing), Christopher Fox Graham, "Hip-Hop Republican," 30.0
Boise, Idaho: Leah Cronen, 28.5
Salt City Slam, Salt Lake City: DeAnn Emett, 29.6
801 Underground, Salt Lake City: Nick Shifrar, 29.5

Round 4
Tombstone Poets, Phoenix: Lauren Perry, 28.4
Boise, Idaho: Tara Brenner, 29.9
Salt City Slam, Salt Lake City: Jesse Parent and Cody Winger, 29.5
801 Underground, Salt Lake City: 28.5
Slam NUBA, Denver: Brando Chemtrails, 30.0

Final Scores
Slam NUBA, Denver: 119.3
Salt City Slam, Salt Lake City: 118.1
Boise, Idaho: 117.5
Tombstone Poets, Phoenix: 116.4
801 Underground: 114.3