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.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

"On My Back Porch"



on my back porch
through the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door
there is a weathered bottle of Guinness
the frayed edges of the label
marking the months since its abandonment
from soft hands and mouth forever foreign to my own

in the morning, the sunlit glint
refracts midnight brown glass
the original sin of my every sunrise
the thumbprint on the Mona Lisa
the first dent in a new car
the D in algebra
the hit-and-run body in the woods
we never talk about
keeping the scar of that night
the conversation forever fresh
her body
his
and my oblivious complicit silence

in the years hence,
when I think back about this home
I will remember the southern view
the sound of birds in the morning
bees around dusk
the first soft snow of winter
the creak of livingroom floorboards

and this bottle

refracting sunrise into my eyes
a tangible manifestation of sin
morning,
after morning,
after morning

I am not writing this poem
to ask for her forgiveness
it’s too late for that
nor my own absolution
undeserved

I am writing this poem
so if you ever visit my home
come wandering in to my back door
you do not make the mistake of picking up this bottle
it is not forgotten
instead imagine
it is bolted to the wood
nailed down with cold sin
impossible to lift
impossible to forget
impossible to forgive

Friday, January 12, 2018

Athena Zelda Nebula Skye Sylvia Diana Fox Graham's House Crest

This is the official House Crest of our daughter, Athena Zelda Nebula Skye Sylvia Diana Fox Graham:
Because my last name is Graham, not "Fox Graham" as some people assume, I made Athena a new crest that reflects the difference in her last name.



All eight of her names are represented:

Athena:

 Greek goddess of wisdom and war strategy who sprung fully armored from the head of Zeus.

Athena went by many epithets:
  • Athena was most commonly Pallas Athena Παλλάς Ἀθηνᾶ, derived either from πάλλω, meaning "to brandish [as a weapon]", or, more likely, from παλλακίς and related words, meaning "youth, young woman."Athena never had a consort or lover and is thus known as Athena Parthenos Ἀθηνᾶ Παρθένος, from which is derived the name of the Parthenon, the major temple on the Acropolis in Athens.
  • Athena Promachos Ἀθηνᾶ Πρόμαχος "Athena who fights in the front line" celebrated her role as a warrior, though she was worshiped by the Greeks not for her fighting prowess, but for her strategic military wisdom. Athena Promachos was also the name of a colossal bronze statue of Athena sculpted by Pheidias, which stood between the Propylaea and the Parthenon on the Acropolis. Erected around 456 BC, the Athena Promachos was either to memorialize the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) or the Persian Wars (First Persian War 492-490 BC, Second Persian War 480-479 BC, Wars of the Delian League 477–449 BC), which is possibly what the dedicatory inscription refers to; This inscription also mentions that the trophies won in the Persian War were once placed around the pedestal of the statue.
  • Athena Atrytone Ἀθηνᾶ Άτρυτώνη "Athena the Unwearying."
  • Athena Areia Ἀθηνᾶ Ἀρεία "Athena the noble"
  • Athena Ergane Ἀθηνᾶ Εργάνη "Athena the Industrious."
  • Athena Polias Ἀθηνᾶ Πολιάς "Athena of the city", refers to Athena's role as protectress of the city of Athens.
  • Athena Hippia Ἀθηνᾶ Ἵππια "Athena of the horses, refers to her role as a patron of equestrians.
  • Athena Hellotia Ἀθηνᾶ Ἑλλωτίᾶ was an epithet of Athena at Corinth
  • Athena, Apollo, Hermes, Hecate, Aphrodite and Artemis sometimes had the epithet Kourotrophos Kουροτρόφος or "child nurturer" added to the name as a patron of children and young people. In art, they were depicted holding a baby in their arms. Kourotrophos was also a stand-alone deity of Athens who protected of children and young people.
  • Athena Itonia Ἀθηνᾶ Ἰτωνία was an epithet of Athena worshiped widely in Thessaly, derived from the town of Iton in the south of Phthiotis, the home of Achilles. Athena Itonia was a goddess of war and the arts of peace, especially poetry.
  • Athena Budeia Ἀθηνᾶ Βούδεια "Athena the oxen-yoker" was a surname of Athena in Thessaly.
  • Athena Anemotis Ἀθηνᾶ Ἀνεμῶτις "Athena of the Anemoi" aka "Athena, subduer of the winds". The main four Anemoi were the cold north wind Boreas, the gentle west wind Zephyrus, the hot south wind Notus, and the strong east wind Eurus. The lesser wind was Kaikais of the northeast, Apeilotes of the wind from the rising sun, Skiron of the from the Scironian from the northwest, and Lips of the southwest.
  • Athena Ambulia Ἀθηνᾶ Ἀμβουλία was her name in Sparta, supposed to be derived from the Greek anaballo ἀναβάλλω, "to delay" and to designate those divinities as the delayers of death. Ambulia shares the same root word of ambulance, which, well, delays death.
  • Athena Alkidemos Ἀθηνᾶ Αλκιδεμοσ "Athena defender of the people" was the epithet of Athena of Pella, Macedonia. Athena Alkidemos was depicted with a thunderbolt and shield, or aegis.
In any case, this is Athena Parthenos in the crest, accompanied by her traditional Little Owl (Athene noctua):



Zelda:

For Zelda Fitzgerald and Princess Zelda

Zelda Fitzgerald, née Sayre (July 24, 1900-March 10, 1948) was an American socialite, novelist, painter and wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald. She was noted for her beauty and high spirits, and was dubbed by her husband as "the first American Flapper". She and Scott became emblems of the Jazz Age. She served as the model for Daisy Buchanan in F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel "The Great Gatsby."

Princess Zelda is the titular character in Nintendo's "The Legend of Zelda" video game series, created by Shigeru Miyamoto and introduced in its original entry in 1986. According to Miyamoto, Princess Zelda was named for Zelda Fitzgerald.
The name has applied to many female members of Hyrule's royal family, which includes several distinct characters in Hyrule legend. Zelda's alter egos include the ninja Sheik in Ocarina of Time and the pirate Tetra in The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. 
This is Princess Zelda in the crest as she is seen in the 2006 game "Twilight Princess"



Nebula:

For astrophysics

This part of the crest shows the region of space in Orion, with the Horsehead Nebula (Officially named Barnard 33, Right ascension: 05h 40m 59.0s Declination: −02° 27′ 30.0").
Lying 1,500 light-years from the sun, just south of the easternmost star in Orion's Belt, the Horsehead Nebula at first glance appears to be a distinctive hole cut in the vibrant backdrop of another nebula, IC 434. However, the darkness is actually a cloud of predominantly hydrogen gas that stands out because of the glow from the pinkish background gas. Known as an emission cloud, the intriguing shape of the nebula is sculpted by radiation from the stars around it. The dark gas extends below the more obvious horse's head into a shapeless blob beneath it.
The Horsehead Nebula is also important to the role of women in astrophysics: In 1894, American astronomer Edward Barnard photographed the distinctive nebula from the Lick Observatory in California, adding it to his list of dark nebula and resulting in its official moniker, but it was first imaged at Harvard College Observatory in 1888 on photographic plates.
Frustrated with his male assistants, astronomy professor Edward Pickering famously claimed that his maid could do a better job of identifying and cataloging the extensive collection of images taken at the observatory. He hired his maid, Williamina Fleming, along with several other women, who became known as "computers." Fleming proved Pickering's point. 
In addition to discovering the Horsehead Nebula, Williamina Fleming discovered 58 other gaseous nebulae, 10 novae and more than 300 variable stars. She eventually became the first American woman to be elected an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society of London.

The Horsehead Nebula appears in the background, positioned between Athena and Diana:

Skye:

The largest and northernmost of the major islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland

The Isle of Skye [An t-Eilean Sgitheanach or Eilean a' Cheò] has been occupied since the Mesolithic period, and its history includes a time of Norse rule and a long period of domination by Clan MacLeod and Clan Donald. The 18th century Jacobite risings led to the breaking up of the clan system and subsequent Clearances that replaced entire communities with sheep farms, some of which also involved forced emigrations to distant lands. Resident numbers declined from over 20,000 in the early 19th century to just under 9,000 by the closing decade of the 20th century. About a third of the residents were Gaelic speakers in 2001, and although their numbers are in decline, this aspect of island culture remains important.
The island's largest settlement is Portree [Port Rìgh], known for its picturesque harbour, where my mother and I stayed when we visited Scotland.
We also visited Dunvegan [Dùn Bheagain] Castle, seat of the chief of Clan MacLeod, hiked to the Neist Point Lighthouse and visited the village of Uig, [Ùige],  which at 57.586°N, is the northernmost point on Earth that either of us have ever been.

I had always wanted to visit Skye. I like the name and I loved the The Skye Boat Song, one of the few songs I can sing in tune from memory. "The Skye Boat Song" is a Scottish folk song, which can be played as a waltz, recalling the escape of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) from Uist to the Isle of Skye after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The Graham Clan were Jacobites for two generations and many fell at Culloden, near Inverness, both of which we also visited.




The Skye Boat Song

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,
Thunderclaps rend the air;
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore,
Follow they will not dare.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean's a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Many's the lad fought on that day,
Well the claymore could wield,
When the night came, silently lay
Dead on Culloden's field.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Burned are their homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men;
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath
Charlie will come again.

The Isle of Skye, has its own tartan, which is located on Princess Zelda's dress:

Sylvia:

A family name

Sylvia is the name of my mother Sylvia L. Elliott née Redfield, grandmother Sylvia Rebie Redfield née Slife and great-grandmother Rebie Sylvia Slife née McElwee.

Silvia is an Italian female given name of Latin origin, with English-language cognate Sylvia. The name originates from the Latin word for forest Silva and its meaning is spirit of the wood. The mythological god of the forest was associated with the figure of Silvanus.

In Roman mythology, Silvia is the goddess of the forest.

Rhea Silvia was the mother of Romulus and Remus. According to Livy's account of the legend she was the daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa, and descended from Aeneas. Numitor's younger brother Amulius seized the throne and killed Numitor's son, then forced Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin, a priestess of the goddess Vesta. As Vestal Virgins were sworn to celibacy for a period of thirty years, this would ensure the line of Numitor had no heirs.
However, Rhea Silvia conceived and gave birth to the twins Romulus and Remus. She claimed that the god Mars was the father of the children.
When Amulius learned of the birth he imprisoned Rhea Silvia and ordered a servant to kill the twins. But the servant showed mercy and set them adrift on the river Tiber, which, overflowing, left the infants in a pool by the bank. There, a she-wolf (lupa), who had just lost her own cubs, suckled them.[4] Subsequently Faustulus rescued the boys, to be raised by his wife Larentia.[5] The god of the Tiber, Tiberinus, rescued Rhea Silvia and took her to be his bride.
Romulus would go on to found Rome, overthrow Amulius, and reinstate Numitor as King of Alba Longa.

St. Silvia or Sylvia (circa A.D. 515 to circa A.D. 592) was the mother of Saint Gregory the Great. Silvia was noted for her great piety, and she gave her sons an excellent education. After the death of her husband Gordian in 573, Gregory converted his paternal home into a monastery. Sylvia therefore retired to a solitary and quasi-monastic life in a little abode near the Church of St. Sava on the Aventine, devoting herself entirely to religion in the "new cell by the gate of blessed Paul" (cella nova juxta portam beati Pauli).  It became her custom frequently to send fresh vegetables to her son on a silver platter. One day, when Gregory found himself with nothing to give a poor beggar, he presented him with the silver platter.

The veneration of St. Silvia is of early date. In the ninth century an oratory was erected over her former dwelling, near the Basilica of San Saba. Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605) inserted her name under Nov. 3 in the Roman Martyrology.

St. Sylvia is invoked by pregnant women for a safe delivery. Coincidently, my mother Sylvia L. Elliott née Redfield and great-grandmother Rebie Sylvia Slife née McElwee were both nurses and my mother current works as a risk manager for Chandler Regional Hospital, southeast of Phoenix.

St. Sylvia's sliver platter appears below Athena's feet:


Diana:


Roman goddess of the hunt, the moon and nature, daughter of Jupiter and Latona.

Diana is a variation on Laura's mother's middle name, Diane.

As Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and nature, she was associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy.

Diana was known as the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, along with Minerva (Greek: Athena) and Vesta (Greek: Hestia), who swore never to marry. Oak groves and deer were especially sacred to her.

The Roman Diana was born with her twin brother, Apollo, on the island of Delos near Mykonos, near the centre of the Cyclades archipelago. Diana is the daughter of Jupiter [Greek: Zeus] and Latona [Greek: Leto, daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe, the sister of Asteria]. She made up a triad with two other Roman deities; Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius [Greek: Hippolytus], the woodland god.

Diana was one of the triple goddess, the same goddess being called Luna in heaven, Diana on earth and Proserpina in Hades or hell.

Diana is complex and contains a number of archaic features. According to French comparative philologistGeorges Dumézil [1898-1986] it falls into a particular subset of celestial gods, referred to in histories of religion as "frame gods." Such gods, while keeping the original features of celestial divinities, i.e. transcendent heavenly power and abstention from direct rule in worldly matters, did not share the fate of other celestial gods in Indoeuropean religions — that of becoming dei otiosi or gods without practical purpose, since they did retain a particular sort of influence over the world and mankind.

The celestial character of Diana is reflected in her connection with inaccessibility, virginity, light and her preference for dwelling on high mountains and in sacred woods. Diana reflects the heavenly world (diuum means sky or open air) in its sovereignty, supremacy, impassibility and indifference towards such secular matters as the fates of mortals and states. At the same time, however, she is seen as active in ensuring the succession of kings and in the preservation of humankind through the protection of childbirth.

These functions are apparent in the traditional institutions and cults related to the goddess.
  • The institution of the rex Nemorensis, Diana's sacerdos (priest) in the Arician wood, who held the position until someone else challenged and killed him in a duel, after breaking a branch from a certain tree of the wood. This ever open succession reveals the character and mission of the goddess as a guarantor of kingly status through successive generations. Her function as bestower of authority to rule is also attested in the story related by Livy in which a Sabine man who sacrifices a heifer to Diana wins for his country the seat of the Roman empire.
  • Diana was also worshiped by women who wanted to be pregnant or who, once pregnant, prayed for an easy delivery. This form of worship is attested in archaeological finds of votive statuettes in her sanctuary in the nemus Aricinum as well as in ancient sources.
As a goddess of hunting, Diana often wears a short tunic and hunting boots. She is often portrayed holding a bow, and carrying a quiver on her shoulder, accompanied by a deer or hunting dogs. Like Venus [Greek: Aphrodite], she was portrayed as beautiful and youthful. The crescent moon, sometimes worn as a diadem, is a major attribute of the goddess. In Rome, the cult of Diana should have been almost as old as the city itself as Roman scholar and writer Marcus Terentius Varro [116 BC – 27 BC] mentions her in the list of deities to whom King Titus Tatius of the Sabines vowed a shrine.

Diana is also the true name and identity of DC superhero Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince.


Diana appears as an archer here:

Fox Graham:

For obvious reasons

Not much to add to this one, other than Fox Graham is my middle and last name

 The House Graham crest that I've been using for a few years appears on Athena's belt here:

The House Crest Motto:

Appears here:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

We're having a baby




"Open Letter to the Women on Tinder" by Christopher Fox Graham

(a poem I wrote for a feature at Juniper House to subtly announce Laura and I were having a baby)

Maddy, 21, Northern Arizona University
while I find your pink hair punky and cute
and your nose piercing a subtle rebellion against your Baptist upbringing
that I would certainly encourage ...
perhaps too far ...
until your arms were awash
in a “Fuck Jesus” tattooed sleeve
we will show off to your parents at Thanksgiving

I must regretfully inform you
that as it happens, there is a redheaded woman
who has captured my interest
thus henceforth,
I will be unavailable to foster your personal experimentation

Kase, 34, UCLA
I noticed that you opt to spell K-A-S-E, sans accent mark,
thus I appreciate your sense of brevity 
and getting to the point
even in neglecting the apostrophe in “I’m” 
to save yourself a keystroke,
yet, it is my sad duty to report
that we will never clip sentences together,
as there happens to be woman in my life
of even shorter contextualization
who can speak volumes with a glance
hint with an eyebrow,
that today, of all Tuesdays,
there may be no panties beneath her skirt
and with a wink, 
invite me to wonder about that all afternoon

Sommer, 21, Northern Arizona University
I could have toyed with your name had met in the summer
but you spell it with an “O,” which is no season
your yoga backbend is impressive
and must have taken months to perfect,
let alone set up the camera,
but with sorrow,
which I also choose to spell with an “O”
that the woman who now shares my bed
can arch her back nearly as far,
but does so not to demonstrate impressive flexibility
but rather quite involuntarily
when I am in the picture
but my face out of frame
obscured by her thighs
but I will let slip that her toes curl
in much the same fashion

Mary, 25, no university listed
your come-hither looks will certainly draw the eyes
of the lover you seek,
though it is with some sadness 
that I have seen your photos before
under a different name
and I have reason to believe 
you may be a Russian hacker
attempting to steal my credit card number
that being said,
it is with some quiet joy that I must reveal
a woman with the same come-hither glance
can do so without a hint of deception
she can strip the secrecy from my tongue
and I have been unable to conjure any falsehoods in her arms

Heather, 30, Maricopa Community College
I must admit it was hard to get a look at you
because you were always slightly out of frame
so I had to puzzle-piece your face together
you should not fear the camera,
not with that kind smile,
but alas, I will be unable to help improve your photography skills
as there is a woman who currently eats up all my photo card memory
leaving me little room for anyone else

Laura, 26, Purdue
Your inviting smile
sitting on the edge of the bed
is coy, while still innocent
I’m certain your conversation would be equally enticing
but I, unfortunately, will never know,
as I have found a woman,
coincidently with your name
to whisper such conflictions into my ears
but, like you, she is a mother,
or at least soon will be
and I wonder if I love our child as you must love yours
I feel I must add at this junction that I will be deleting this app
as it no longer serve a purpose,
except to serve as the prompt for a poem


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sedona Arts Center hosts Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, Dec. 16

The Sedona Poetry Slam returns Saturday, Dec. 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Sedona Arts Center, 15 Art Barn Road, Uptown Sedona.

Lauren Perry, of Phoenix, won the Sedona Poetry Slam on Nov. 4. She has represented Phoenix at the
Utah Poetry Festival, several National Poetry Slams, the Individual World Poetry Slam and the
Women of the World Poetry Slam. The next Sedona Poetry Slam will be held at 7:30 p.m.,
Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Sedona Arts Center, 15 Art Barn Road, Uptown.
A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays. Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. 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.

All poets are welcome to compete 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.

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.

The first slam of the season was held Nov. 4 at the Sedona Arts Center. The next five slams move to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona, on Saturdays, Dec. 30, Feb. 3, April 7, May 5 and May 26.

Tickets are $12. For tickets to the Sedona Arts Center slams, call 282-3809 or visit sedonaartscenter.org. For tickets to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre slams, call 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org

The 2017-18 season will culminate in selection of Sedona’s seventh National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent Sedona and the Verde Valley at the National Poetry Slam in Chicago in August.

The Last Chance Slam on May 26 will be the final opportunity for poets who want to qualify for the 2018 Grand Slam. With every regular slam, poets earn points toward a slot in the Grand Slam, on Saturday, June 9. The poets who make the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team at the final contest will represent Sedona and share the stage with 350 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe at the week-long National Poetry Slam in Chicago in August.

Sedona sent its 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., its fifth to Decatur, Ga., and its sixth to Denver. For more information, visit foxthepoet.blogspot.com.

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

Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam early by Friday, Dec. 15, or arrive at the door by 7 p.m. to sign up the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on 10 FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-17. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

What is Poetry Slam?
Founded at the Green Mill Tavern in Chicago in 1984, 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 2010 Winter Olympics, performed at the White House and at the United Nations General Assembly and were featured on "Russell Simmon's Def Poets" on HBO.

For more information, visit poetryslam.com or the PSi channel on YouTube.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sedona Poetry Slam season kicks off on Saturday, Nov. 4

The Sedona Poetry Slam begins its slam season on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the Sedona Arts Center, 15 Art Barn Road, Uptown Sedona. 

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays. Slam poetry is an art form that allows written page poets to share their work alongside theatrical performers, hip-hop artists and lyricists. 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.

All poets are welcome to compete 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.

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.

The second slam will be at the Sedona Arts Center on Saturday, Dec. 16. The following five slams will take place at Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona, on Saturdays, Dec. 30, Feb. 3,  April 7, May 5 and May 26.

Tickets are $12. For tickets to the Sedona Arts Center slams, call 282-3809 or visit sedonaartscenter.org. For tickets to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre slams, call 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org

The 2017-18 season will culminate in selection of Sedona's seventh National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent Sedona and the Verde Valley at the National Poetry Slam in Chicago in August. 

The Last Chance Slam on May 26 will be the final opportunity for poets who want to qualify for the 2018 Grand Slam. With every regular slam, poets earn points toward a slot in the Grand Slam, on Saturday, June 9. The poets who make the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team at the final contest will represent Sedona and share the stage with 350 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe at the week-long National Poetry Slam in Chicago in August.

Sedona sent its 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., its fifth to Decatur, Ga., and its sixth to Denver. For more information, visit foxthepoet.blogspot.com.

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

Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at foxthepoet@yahoo.com to sign up to slam early by Friday, Nov. 3, or arrive at the door by 7 p.m. to sign up the day of the slam. Poets who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on 10 FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-17. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

What is Poetry Slam?
Founded at the Green Mill Tavern in Chicago in 1984, 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 2010 Winter Olympics, performed at the White House and at the United Nations General Assembly and were featured on "Russell Simmon's Def Poets" on HBO.

For more information, visit poetryslam.com or the PSi channel on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

40 years ago today, Voyager 1 left Earth, never again to return home.


The entirety of our species may be this one golden record. This is the entirety of the recording.



This audio recording of Bulgarian folk sing Valya Balkanska performing “Izlel e Delyu Haydutin,” is one of several songs on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes.

"The Golden Record"
A poem for the Voyager 1 & 2 spacecraft
By Christopher Fox Graham

Valya Balanska
in 60,000 years
when the human race is extinct
racing at a geologic pace to fossilize ourselves
next to dinosaurs
Valya Balkanska will still be singing
she may be the last
and only voice
the galaxy knows of our species

to tell her story
I must begin at the beginning:
we all shared the same neighborhood once
when matter didn’t matter so much
but FLASH-BANG! scattered us
like children
from doors of school
on the last day before summer
some stayed close to home
while others wanted to see how far away they could run

and when they began to pick up the pieces
they clung to each other so tightly
you could feel the gravity of it all
but these rocky asteroids and gas giants
comets of ice and terrestrials covered in methane or argon
stare across the vacuum playing telephone with each other
and wonder if they’ll ever touch again

can you hear them?
they speak slow
some syllables take millions of years to finish
but out in the black
are so many lost marbles
they number a billion billion for each one of us here
they, too, were born blind in the dark
wondering, “what is this place”“
and “where did I come from?”
they cling to the nearest glowing stars
like lost children
terrified to be alone

The Voyager spacecraft, launched in 1977.
among the sea
in a stretch of nebula
on one of those marbles
unremarkable in its ordinariness
a thump-pulse of moving things speaks so fast
the planets can’t understand the gibberish
but they love the sound of it all
it reminds them of a split moment in lost memory
when we all were dancing on the head of a pinprick

those creatures, they say,
have sent ambassadors into the stars
riding radio waves in images and sounds
but we have no way to answer, just to listen
a few constructions of metal
have sailed into the dark bearing their dreams
like messages in bottles
so if they annihilate themselves
in a flash of fire
or by eating up all the matter on which they survive
something will remain to prove
there was some magic once

The Golden Record with encoded messages about how to play it,
Earth's location triangulated with 14 pulsars, and information about
the hydrogen atom to give a point of measurement reference.
on one of those lost satellites called Voyager
now 18 billion miles away from a home
it will never see again
is a golden record
and instructions to play it
so if, in eons hence
on some other marble, wiser life sprouts
and in their wild youth,
breaks the laws of gravity
they may find it floating wandering in the dark
and hear the sounds

of us

those alien discoverers may not get past the wonder
of greetings in 55 different human languages
saying in Begali “Hello! Let there be peace everywhere.”
or in Indonesian “Good night ladies and gentlemen.” and
“Goodbye and see you next time.”

after hearing “Johnny B. Goode”
they may crusade the stars
searching for Earth
and more Chuck Berry
they may listen over and over
to the perfect precision of Beethovan’s 5th symphony

or the unleased joy in the Peruvian wedding song

1½ tons of metal
weighing nothing in the ether
carries our billion conversations
every love story
every epic poem
every genocide and celebrity wedding
every nation to rise and fall
every miracle
manmade or otherwise

1½ tons of metal
carries the weight of 10,000 years of human history
on a record barely an hour long

But when they hear Valya Balkanska sing“Izlel e Delyu Haydutin,”
our evolution and extinction will not have been in vain

those alien discoverers
may not have tears
but they will know we did
they may not understand grief
but the first sound they utter afterward
will become it
they will understand
why we could not bear to be alone
when there were so many lost marbles
aching to feel footsteps
the touch of stargazing strangers
they will know there was good in us
and they may even call us 
“brothers”

to the creatures who find Voyager:
you may not have a song to mourn your dead
but as Valya’s haunting melody
and the Bulgarian pipes
retch all the sorrow of a million human generations 
into the stars one last time
you have a mourning song now

and Valya,
Valya will sing it for us







Bulgarian lyrics

Излел е Делю хайдутин,
хайдутин ян кеседжия
с Домбовци и Караджовци.
Зароча Дельо пороча
Дериденските аяне,
айяне, кабадаие:
- Две лели имам в селоно,
да ми ги не потурчите,
да ми ги не почърните,
че кога флезем в селоно,
млого щат майки да плачат,
по-млого млади нивести,
дете ще в корем проплака.

Гюлсюме Делю заръча:
- Варди са, Делю, чувай са,
канят са да та примажат,
деридеренски аяне,
аяне, кабадаие:
сребърен куршум ти леят,
та ще та, Делю, удрият.
- Гюлсюме, любе Гюлсюме,
не са е родил чилякън,
дену ще Деля примаже.

English translation

Deljo the hayduk went out,
the hayduk, the rebel
with the Dumbovi and the Karadjovi clans.
Deljo gave the following orders
to the brazen-faced governors of Zlatograd:
- "There are two aunts of mine in the village.
Do not make them Turks,
do not besmirch them,
because when I come back
a lot of mothers will cry,
a lot of young brides,
and unborn children."

Gyulsume told Deljo:
- "Beware, Deljo, beware,
you are being threatened, Deljo
the Zlatograd rulers,
the brazen-faced governors,
they cast a silver bullet
for you, Deljo, to kill you."

- "Gyulsume, my love Gyulsume,
not yet is born a man
who could kill me."

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

"Home" by Warsan Shire

Photograph by Daniet Etter/New York Times/Redux /eyevine.
Syrian refugee Laith Majid cries tears of joy and relief that he and his children have made it to Europe.

"Home" by Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles traveled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here





Warsan Shire is a 24-year-old Kenyan-born Somali poet, writer and educator based in London. Born in 1988, Shire has read her work extensively all over Britain and internationally - including readings in South Africa, Italy, Germany, Canada, North America and Kenya- and her début book, 'Teaching my Mother How to Give Birth," was published in 2011. Her poems have been published in Wasafiri, Magma and Poetry Review and in the anthology "The Salt Book of Younger Poets." She is the current poetry editor at SPOOK magazine. In 2012 she represented Somalia at the Poetry Parnassus, the festival of the world poets at the Southbank, London. She is a Complete Works II poet. Her poetry has been translated into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Shire is also the unanimous winner of the 2013 inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize.