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 423,000 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, March 5, 2015

This Began With “I Miss You”

This began with “I miss you”
nestled deep in the liver of pretty words
dancing illusionary around platitudes of nostalgia
the way lynchings and pogroms and Jim Crow
take a back seat when waxing poetic about the Roaring 20s

this began Art Deco
all smooth lines and steel rising above New York City
when Chrysler and Empire State vied for the heavens
when we could still see heaven

but this revisionist history
ignores begging in breadlines for something warm at night
the amputees returning home from the trenches
missing limbs from land mines

you were the FLASH! BANG! landmine
ripping smiles from this face
leaving me to sweat you out on PTSD nights
wondering if you were coming home to finish me off

you are my thousand-yard stare

you are the war story of crashing hips and desert stories
I would tell the neighbors
when they asked about the scars too visible to conceal

this began “I miss you,”
because I can still remember the beginning
when butterflies fluttered in the gut portending the future
back before we learned to fuck the way movie stars taught us:
well lit, in focus, every inch of skin captured center frame,
each retelling revealing more secrets than the last
until I could quote your inches from exposition to ending credits
even now, I can chart your body, knee to nape, lip to clit
like a family farm a man spent 90 years
getting ready to be buried in

your blustering winds do not make you a hurricane
you are not Salamis 
nor Trafalgar
and this is no “I miss you” poem

because I do not miss you

no one misses fatal car accidents
we were a slow-motion rollover
ejecting victims through the windshield face-first

after you found me inhabiting the suburbs of your heart
fostering your broken parts like they were my own children
you began pushing me out one brutal word at a time
no refugee misses the ethnic cleansing
that leaves them in the wilderness

you left me in the wilderness
of this place
in my own chest
surrounded by strange tongues that speak unfamiliar words
like “lover” and “future”
I had found a home in the forever changing definitions of “us”
never expecting to be the only one to remember it that way

you were the memory

I was the action

you were the story

I was the author

but you lit the manuscript on fire
drained the blood from all of my inkwells
broke pens like fingers
and cut the voice from my throat
leaving me to point at strangers
mouth useless words,
knowing they do not understand

you are breathtaking,

but that is no compliment

you hover between regret and unfortunate accident
haunting the stairwells of this cold, empty house
the image of a girl I can see in the television static
around 2 a.m. between the whiskey and the dawn
a tree in winter that I’m not certain is dead or dormant

this began “I miss you,”
this will end with, “I survived you”but we are still somewhere else

a wounded diver in shark-infested waters
and I cannot see the shore

we are the firing squad bullet between rifle and
let justice be done
a hand grenade frozen beautiful in a starburst
before shrapnel turns a dreamer
into a dying, wounded animal

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Christopher Fox Graham speaks at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on March 4

Words are a community's most powerful tool for educating and entertaining its residents. No Sedona resident does more to enrich people's lives through words than Christopher Fox Graham, managing editor of Larson Newspapers, which publishes the Sedona Red Rock News, Cottonwood Journal Extra, and The Camp Verde Journal, and slammaster of the semi-monthly Sedona Poetry Slam.
Graham decides in part what community activities the newspaper covers, what letters, press releases, and recurring columnists it publishes, and writes the newspaper's semi-weekly editorials.

He also coordinates Sedona's monthly Poetry Slam events and has participated himself in eight National Poetry Slams.

Slam poetry is an art form that allows written-page poets to share their work in a series of high-energy, three-minute, one-person oral presentations, each as gripping as a condensed play.)

Graham will be wearing each of these hats, in turn, when he will be guest of honor at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute's Keynote Speaker program on Wednesday, March 4, from 1 to 2 p.m. in room 34 of Yavapai College’s Sedona Center, on Cultural Park Place, across State Route 89A from Sedona Red Rock High School.

He will step up first as purveyor of Sedona's local news. Ever wonder how the guy who knows just about everything going on in town sees our community and his role in it? How do he and his reporters walk the line of objectivity in a town replete with controversies and people who feel strongly about them? He will share his personal story and his professional perspective, then answer questions from audience members.

Next, he will describe the origin and evolution of the Sedona Poetry Slam and show you what a poetry slam entry is like, providing a preview of what you might see at the next local poetry slam on Saturday, March 7, 7:30 p.m., at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre.

OLLI's Lunch & Learn is a town hall for local residents to meet, chat, and interact with speakers doing interesting and important things in town. This enjoyable, informative, weekly community event is free and open to all.

Bring your lunch (or come for complimentary coffee, tea, water, and a little snack) and join the conversation at 12:30, or come from 1:00 – 2:30 to interact with Christopher Fox Graham, the driving force behind two vital and stimulating Sedona cultural "vortices"--the Sedona Red Rock News and the annual series of Poetry Slams.

OLLI is a local, volunteer, peer-to-peer, adult education program (part of Yavapai College) that offers many learning groups and workshops each term for a nominal fee. Its Winter term is ending, but catalogues will soon be available for its Spring term, beginning April 13. For more information about OLLI or the Lunch & Learn program, please call: 928-649-4275.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Star Wars Medley" by Lindsey Stirling & Peter Hollens

So, yeah, this nerdy awesomeness exists on the Internet.

Published on Aug 9, 2013
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Huge thanks to for letting us use their amazing costumes!

Arr. Tom Anderson -
Mix: Ed Boyer

Big thanks to our friends: Evynne Hollens - The Wookie
Josh Lenhardt - Darth Vader
Reilly Zamber - Boba Fett

John Williams is amazing, check out his original recordings for this here:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

In memory of legendary Jack McCarthy [May 23, 1939 - Jan. 17, 2013]

Seattle Poetry Slam - Ed Mabrey's Tribute to Jack McCarthy 

Jack McCarthy
May 23, 1939 - January 17, 2013
Jack McCarthy featured at the FlagSlam Semi-Final Slam on April 12, 2005. I remember he was quiet and gracious and delivered poetry in an unassuming, yet profound way.

He died Jan. 17, 2013, in Seattle, at the age of 73.

"He weaves wicker stories that creep slowly down the back stairs of your memory. He talks to you in your own voice." - Jim Dunn

Jack McCarthy's obituary in the Boston Globe

published Jan 27, 2013.

By Bryan Marquard
At some 200 lines, Jack ­McCarthy’s first published ­poem appeared in the Boston Sunday Globe in October 1976. Filling a page, “South Boston Sunday” describes a family stroll through the neighborhood of his youth, where even though the school busing crisis is an uneasy presence:

We will agree

This was the happiest day.

He thought the poem would launch his writing career, but that didn’t happen until another October, in 1993, when Mr. McCarthy took his youngest daughter to a poetry slam at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge. He got up to read and the positive response brought an epiphany: The poet’s voice and the audience’s ears were inseparable.

“For me, the live audience is really the only audience I ever think about,” he said by phone when he knew his death was near. “When I put something down on paper and publish it, my highest hope is that someone somewhere will pick it up and read it to a third party. My sense of audience does not stop with the person who reads the poem. I hope the poem goes on to another life.”

Legendary in Boston’s slam poetry scene, he became nationally known when he was among those filmed for the 1998 documentary “SlamNation.” A decade ago, Mr. McCarthy moved to Seattle, where he died at home Jan. 17 of complications from colon and lung cancer. He was 73.

A consummate storyteller whose métier was verse, he wrote and performed poems that inspired laughter with one line, tears the next.

In “Neponset Circle,” one of his favorites, a driver “can get us anywhere in the world –/as long as he starts from Neponset Circle.” Mr. McCarthy concluded with a couplet celebrating his wife: “Carol, my love,/you’re my Neponset Circle.”

“Drunks” draws chilling images from his alcoholism, his 40 years of sobriety, and the lives of others that ended badly: “we tried and we died and nobody cried.”

With just as sure a hand, he used the austere constraints of haiku to poke fun at aging:

Geezers dress funny;
we can’t dress like all our friends:
all our friends are dead

He collected his poems in books, and more await posthumous publication. Those who never saw Mr. McCarthy’s dramatic performances can still hear him on CDs or watch him on YouTube.

In the video for “Substances,” a recounting and recanting of past abuses, gestures augment every line. And videos for poems such as “I Wouldn’t Want to be Jesus,” linked on Mr. McCarthy’s website,, show how swiftly he engaged a crowd, even last May when he needed oxygen tubes to breathe.

“The only ambition he seems to have is to tell the truth as best he can in poems,” the poet Thomas Lux once wrote of Mr. McCarthy. “His work is direct, plainspoken, colloquial, authentic, lucid.”

Another poet, Stephen Dobyns, called him “one of the wonders of contemporary poetry. He writes — and often performs — dazzling narratives full of wit and humor, sadness and hard thinking. He should be cloned.”

The Internet extended Mr. McCarthy’s reach beyond his Boston fame long before he launched his own site. In 2000, several years after writing “Drunks,” he used a search engine for the first time “and the poem was there ahead of me,” he recalled in December. “I found it all over the world on websites.”

The oldest of four children, John Xavier McCarthy was born in South Boston. His family moved to Hingham and a scholarship sent Mr. McCarthy to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

In autumn of his senior year, his mother died in a car accident. The following spring, his father died of a heart attack. The day of his father’s funeral, Mr. McCarthy received a scholarship to Dartmouth College.

While studying there, Mr. McCarthy watched a short film of Dylan Thomas reading a poem.

“I was so moved that I sat there by myself in the theater and tears were rolling down my cheeks, just at the way he used the English language,” he recalled. “And I said: ‘I want to do that.’ ”

Alcohol intervened, however, and he dropped out of school and into the depths of existence. He started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in 1962 and returned to graduate from Dartmouth five years later.

He taught for a few years before working in information technology at banks and insurance companies. Mr. McCarthy married Joan Reynolds of Westwood in 1968 and they had three daughters. After their marriage ended in 1986, he stayed close to his children.

“He was always so full of good advice and reassurance,” said one of his daughters, Kathleen Chardavoyne of Charlestown. “He really struck the right balance between explaining to you why you did or didn’t want to do certain things, and letting you know he’d be there for you if you did screw up. I still remember a lot of the advice he gave me. I just worshipped him.”

Having decided he would not remarry, Mr. McCarthy nevertheless placed a personals ad on a whim in 1989, mentioning that he liked to bodysurf.

Carol Sinder, a former Californian, was intrigued by that detail and answered. They married in 1991 in St. Ann Church in Dorchester, where Mr. McCarthy sang in the folk group.

“Not only did I fall in love with Jack, but also with his poetry,” she wrote in an e-mail. “When I met him he only wrote poetry occasionally. I arranged for him to go to a poetry class with a famous poet, Galway Kinnell.”

Along with becoming a mainstay of the slam poetry scene, Mr. McCarthy took his writing to audiences near and far. His poem “Drunks” earned him an invitation to speak in Spain at an Alcoholics Anonymous convention, and he was a regular guest of students in the Poetry Soup Group at Newburyport High School.

“I think he gave them license to look at what’s behind the feelings they would often laugh off,” said Debbie Szabo, an English and creative writing teacher. “You know, teenagers are sarcastic, cynical, and snide, and Jack was the opposite of those things. He made them want to go out and write.”

The flame of fame bathes poets in a fainter light than other celebrities, but Mr. McCarthy was well-known enough around Boston that once while he was receiving Communion, the priest paused before handing him a wafer.

“When he normally would say, ‘Body of Christ,’ he said, ‘I love your poetry,’ and I said, ‘Thank you,’ ” Mr. McCarthy recalled. “I think very few poets get to have that experience.”

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. McCarthy leaves two other daughters, Megan McDermott of Madison, Wis., and Ann of South Boston; a stepson, Seth Roback of Seattle; two sisters, Hannah of Amherst, N.H., and Judith Winship of Boxford; and six grandchildren, the youngest born two weeks before he died.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 9 in Follen Church, a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Lexington.

Untroubled by the approach of death, and comparatively pain-free, Mr. McCarthy opened his poem “Victory” by writing:
What luxury
to know I’m dying
so comfortably

And with a nod to Dylan Thomas, who inspired his poetic aspirations a half-century ago, he added:
So forgive me, Dylan.
I will go gentle into that good night —
or afternoon, as the case may be.
There’s no rage in me, not any more
The years have been too kind;
allow the light the right to die.

“We’ve had 23 years, and this time was the most amazing journey,” Mr. McCarthy’s wife said a few weeks before he died. “Jack said, ‘If I believed in reincarnation I wouldn’t want to come back, because I’ve had such a good life.’ Now how many people say that?”

Bryan Marquard can be reached at

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pick your droid and let's battle at the Flagstaff Nerd Slam

Calling all dungeon masters, trekkers and inhabitants of Middle-Earth! Bookmans Entertainment Exchange and Firecreek Coffee Company - Flagstaff are proud to bring you the:

So fire up your X-wing starfighter and make your way to FIRECREEK on Saturday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. for a little friendly poetic competition and a celebration of nerdom. Sign up starts at 6 p.m. the day of slam. This event is free and open to the public. Come on down to see if you have what it takes to become Northern Arizona's ultimate nerd.

Prizes will be provided by Bookmans and other community partners for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Nerd Nerd panelists include John Quinonez, Vincent Vega, and Christopher Fox Graham.

This event is free and open to the public.

Big thanks to our community partners and fellow Nerds, Cab Comics.

Draw your weapons, nerd slam poets ....

Graphics by Daniel Nyari
Calling all dungeon masters, trekkers and inhabitants of Middle-Earth! Bookmans Entertainment Exchange and Firecreek Coffee Company - Flagstaff are proud to bring you the:

So fire up your X-wing starfighter and make your way to FIRECREEK on Saturday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. for a little friendly poetic competition and a celebration of nerdom. Sign up starts at 6 p.m. the day of slam. This event is free and open to the public. Come on down to see if you have what it takes to become Northern Arizona's ultimate nerd.

Prizes will be provided by Bookmans and other community partners for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Nerd Nerd panelists include John Quinonez, Vincent Vega, and Christopher Fox Graham.

This event is free and open to the public.

Big thanks to our community partners and fellow Nerds, Cab Comics.

TARDIS ready ....

"... coordinates set for the Flagstaff Nerd Slam ..."
-The Doctor

Hyperdrive ready ...

"You came to Flagstaff Nerd Slam in that thing? You're braver than I thought."
―Leia Organa, Princess of Alderaan

Maximum warp ...

"To boldly go to Flagstaff Nerd Slam,where no one has gone before."
-Capt. James T. Kirk

Ready to play ...

"On the other side of the Flagstaff Nerd Slam, it all looks so easy.
-Kevin Flynn

All aboard, heroes in a half-shell ...

"The Flagstaff Nerd Slam, cowabunga, dude!

Nature always finds a way ...

"Welcome to ... Flagstaff Nerd Slam."
―John Hammond, InGen CEO

Proton packs charged ...

"Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes! Volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! The Flagstaff Nerd Slam! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together ... mass hysteria."
―Dr. Peter Venkman

Friday, January 9, 2015

"14 Lines from Love Letters or Suicide Notes" by Doc Luben

Doc Luben is a writer, performer, and general person in Portland Oregon. Follow him at Doc Luben Poetry on Tumblr

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If you loved this poem, check out Ken Arkind:
Performing during the Last Chance Slam at the Individual World Poetry Slam.

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We seek to showcase the power and diversity of voices in our community. By encouraging and broadcasting the best and brightest performance poets of today, we hope to broaden poetry's audience, to expand its reach and develop a greater level of cultural appreciation for the art form.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Third Sedona Poetry Slam of the 2014-2015 season takes place Saturday, Jan. 3

Poets are invited to compete at the third Sedona Poetry Slam of the 2014-15, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 3, at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. State Route 89A, Suite A-3.

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 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.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. The prize is funded in part by a donation from Verde Valley poetry supporters Jeanne and Jim Freeland.

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 will be 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 slam will be hosted by Sedona poet Christopher Fox Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on seven FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009. Contact Graham at to sign up to slam.

Tickets are $12. Click here, or call Mary D. Fisher Theatre at 282-1177 or visit

The slam is the third the 2014-15 season, which will culminate in selection of Sedona's fourth National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent the city at the National Poetry Slam in Oakland, Calif., in August. There are seven slams in the regular season, six in Sedona and one in Clarkdale. The final Grand Poetry Slam takes place on June 6, to determine the team.

The local poets will share the stage with 350 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe, pouring out their words in a week-long explosion of expression. Sedona sent its five-poet first team to the 2012 National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C., its second to the 2013 NPS in Boston and Cambridge, Mass., and its third to Oakland, Calif., in August.

Women of the World Poetry Slam Qualifier

This slam is also the qualifier for Sedona’s representative to the International Women of the World Poetry Slam, to be held in Albuquerque, N.M., from March 18 to 21. The highest-ranked female or female-identified poet from earns Sedona’s WOWps slot.

Poets who live their lives as women are eligible to participate in the Women of the World Poetry Slam. Competitors are eligible from certified venues or as individuals from areas without certified venues (aka “Storm” poets).

All competitors must be PSI members in good standing and must agree to participate in the event following the rules of Slam as well as the Code of Honor, and must allow for PSI to videotape their performances for PSI owned product.

What is Poetry Slam?

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.