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, August 24, 2016

"Lumberjacking is the World’s Most Dangerous Profession" by Christopher Fox Graham

lumberjacking is the world’s most dangerous profession
falling trees and limbs slay lumberjacks at a rate
30 times higher than average
breaking bones a dozen times daily

these arms are not built to fell trees
these hands not built to wield axes or chainsaws
I am no lumberjack
but I know the sound of a tree falling in a forest
we do not know how many died
to build this stage
to erect these room
to raise this roof

poetry is the world’s most dangerous art form
suicide and addiction and overdose slay poets
at a rate not measured by the Bureau of Statistics
because we do not list "poet" as a profession
no matter how deep is in our bones

but I am a poet

these arms were built to climb trees
these hands to wield pen and microphone
the sound of a poet falling in a forest
sounds so much like a tree
even the Earth can't tell the difference
we do not know how many died
to raise this roof
to erect these room
to build this stage

I know no dead lumberjacks
but if I were to inscribe the names of all the dead poets
this body would be inkwell:

one drowned in the heat of lonely city
swallowing pills to stay afloat

one who found refuge in a bottle
until his liver took his heart in the divorce

one who shotgunned the worst of him
across pages of the best of him

one with the Will of a Haymaker
now Basquiating himself
with a heroin needle
refusing to hear us say "stop"

one who swam into the river
never intending to reach the far shore

one who relived his golden age
overdosing on methadone

one who named his son Oren
and told us to look it up
wrote that one day his son would fall,
but a poet would there to catch him

and another poet

and another

and another

I know no lumberjacks
but I know they must weep like I do
whenever these names come flooding back

we do not build furniture or homes or monuments or empires
tangibility that can exist without the living
we only leave behind our words
which yellow and age over time
only existing if we read or speak them
but there are too many words now
and not enough time
and I'm beginning to forget
and there's no one here to help

lumberjacks take refuge in the woods
work beneath the leaves
take revenge on the limbs and trees
that slew their brothers
but we poets have nowhere to go
but back to these pages
to these microphones
to these slam stages
where we pour out our rage
it's why we're always shouting
a Dead Poets Society
is trapped in our throats

I'm not even supposed to be here
there's too much sin,
and pride
to be a Speaker of the Dead
to bear this burden of survivor
I am the Devil's bad luck
and the Grim Reaper's off days

I am tired of burying our dead
of toasting our fallen as conquering heroes
of retelling all the same old stories
to those old poets who can remember
before the needle drained
the pills slowed
the bullet shattered
the depression became too much to bear

I am tired of telling new young poets
about who came before
or how their newest stanza
can make me weep
because it sounds so much like someone
they can read but never meet
they don't need this added weight
while learning to fly
I am tired of telling still-living poets
with one foot in the graveyard
and one hand on a needle
that I don't deserve to outlive them

one poet named his son “Pine Tree” in Hebrew
wrote that one day he would fall
I am no lumberjack
but I will ready to catch him
because a poet said to

I can build nothing
but this
this is a promise I can keep

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Sedona Poetry Slam hosts Individual World Poetry Slam qualifyer on Saturday, Aug. 20

Slam poets will assemble for the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, Aug. 20, to choose Sedona’s representative for the 2016 Individual World Poetry Slam. Poets are invited to compete at the first slam of the 2016-17 season, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. 

 Call Mary D. Fisher Theatre at 282-1177 or visit Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at to sign up to slam.

Individual World Poetry Slam

FlagSlam and Poetry Slam Inc. international nonprofit present the 2016 Individual World Poetry Slam, the four-day poetry slam festival from Wednesday to Saturday, Oct. 12 to 15, created by PSi giving poets the opportunity to compete outside of a team competition for the title of the Individual World Poetry Slam champion. The ninth annual event will bring world acclaimed feature performers, poetry and performance workshops, specialty slams, open mics and events for all ages to Flagstaff.
The contenders will hail from every major North American city including Phoenix, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Vancouver, Canada, as well as countries around the world such as Australia, France and Germany. Participants will compete in two days of preliminary competitions, culminating in a final clash of the top 12 on the final stage.
The festival will host a slew of side events and workshops, including the ever popular Nerd Slam, featuring poetry focused on comic books, fantasy, science, engineering, science fiction and anime, hosted by Phoenix poet Bernard “The Klute” Schober and featuring panelists like lightsaber-armed “Star Wars” nerd specialist Graham.

The slam will also pick the winning poet who will represent Sedona at the Arizona Poetry Society annual conference in November.

What is Poetry Slam?
Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. While many people may think of poetry as dull and laborious, a poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays. 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.

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’s Young Voices Be Heard slam group.

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 who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. The prize money is funded in part by a donation from Verde Valley poetry supporters Jeanne and Jim Freeland.

Sedona Poetry Slam
 The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on nine FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-16. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

The slam is the first of the 2016-17 season, which will culminate in selection of Sedona’s sixth National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent the city and the Verde Valley at the National Poetry Slam in Denver in August.

The final Grand Poetry Slam takes place next spring to determine the team. The poets who make the team to represent Sedona will share the stage at the week-long National Poetry Slam with 350 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Sedona sent its five-poet 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., and the fifth to Decatur, Ga.

Founded in Chicago in 1984 by construction worker Marc Smith, poetry slam is a competitive artistic sport. 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.