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.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Dear Pluto" by Christopher Fox Graham, celebrating NASA's new photos of Pluto

With the new photos of Pluto released by NASA's New Horizons probe today, it seemed apropos to republish this poem. When New Horizons left Earth in January 2006, it was still the ninth planet from the Sun. By August 2006, it was reclassified a dwarf planet.

Dear Pluto
By Christopher Fox Graham

To the planet formerly known as Pluto,

Though we will never meet
I think I know you

I am a speck of organic matter
standing on the surface of your sister
my people and I
are converted from ice and dust
electrified into existence
by the mere circumstances
of your sister Earth and nephew Moon
dancing with tide pools
when they were still in their infancy
mere molecules slammed together
and held onto each other in strings
which took billions of years
to mistake themselves in their reproduction
to form this all-too-young boy
sending you this letter
forgive my impetuousness, dear Pluto
but compared to you,
I only have a second
before this organic matter caves in on itself
becomes dust and water to form something new
all I have is my voice
and I beg you to listen
because although we will never meet
I think I know you

I’m not sure if you will receive this letter
In the time it takes to reach you,
I could bounce between here and the sun 16 times
measured on your timescale
my country is not even a year old yet

You’re farther away from the sun
than any of your siblings
and while the rest of those planets circulate in lockstep
in the same elliptical orbit
yours is full of highs and lows
as you rise above the plane
and drop beneath it
because you’re either bipolar
of just refuse to conform
be glad you’ve been able to do it so long
here, those who are different
either by choice or accident
wind up getting bullied, brutalized or crucified
and while I could explain what those words mean
let’s hope that by the time one of us stands on your surface
we’ve forgotten what they mean, too

At Lowell Observatory in the hills overlooking Flagstaff
astronomer Clyde Tombaugh picked you out from the black
he watched you wander at the edge of the solar system
and noted how you keep your distance
from everyone else like you

Charon and Pluto
I know what it feels like to be alone, too
there are times when people here
believe the sun is so far away they don’t feel warm anymore
and they stare out into the black
and wonder what’s like to just let go
I’m glad you’ve stayed with us, dear Pluto
you show us that even when the universe is terrifying cold
there’s some light to hold on to
some reason to keep moving
and even out there you and your moon Charon
prove you can find love anywhere

since we began to worship stars
we have followed your siblings
the rocky worlds, the gas giants
to us, if they were bigger than an asteroid or moon
and weren’t furnaces like the sun,
they were a planet
deserving the name of a god
an astrological house
and a certain amount of inexplicable reverence

you were nine children of a yellow sun
on the rural edge of the galaxy

but now because your size doesn’t fit new rules
the International Astronomical Union on my world
has decided you are no longer a planet
you don’t meet the qualifications anymore
you no longer govern an astrological house
they took you away from you were to us

because some ink on paper said you didn’t matter anymore
they put you a box labeled “dwarf planets” or “Plutoids”
only to be ostracized from your brothers and sisters
by faceless strangers at the stroke of pen

here, we label people too,
segregate them into boxes
based on the color of their skins
or which one of those gods they called out to while dying
or whether they love someone with the same or different parts
or in what way they their throats make noises to communicate
or even by where they were born
as if point of origin means anything
on a planet spinning 1,600 kilometers per second,
where specks like me have wandered to every part of it
tell me, dear Pluto
can you see the borders of our nations from out there?
it seems that’s all we can see down here sometimes
can you tell us apart?
if we one day reach you
dig our fingers into your dirt
would you care about what language we used
to tell each other how beautiful the moment was?

Dear Pluto,
I know what it feels like to be small
I’m still a little boy, too
playing grown-up games
wondering what happens
when there’s nothing left to orbit anymore

Though we will never meet
you don’t have to answer this letter if it ever reaches you
but I think you know me,
I am a tiny voice on your sister Earth
and you are Pluto, the ninth planet of the sun

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Magicks Contained Beneath the Skin

Some magicks are best contained beneath the skin
while others should be loosed to the world,
unrestrained in an unyielding fury of kaleidoscopic colors
bedecked in cat ears or fox tails or deer antlers
a child’s wonder on their tongues and bellies full of fires
some are still the unpasteurized joy of days gone past
all tiger-teeth, shark-fang wildness of youth in its hooligan infancy
dancing in the moonlight of playing in a sealess playa
dreaming of cars turn mutant when swallowed in the dreams of artists
like those beneath her eyelids

Photo by David Schnack
do not fret the days when stars can still be counted as we once did
skipping digits while applicable or when unnecessary
knowing the final number was reachable
and always the same in the this county or the old

as the decades churn old histories into misremembered mysteries
of what-whens and who-hows Seuss would have created had he the lexicon
futures remain unwritten, though envisioned by madmen young boys never listen to,
coaxial lifespans stretch into the undreamed ether threading parallels when the geometry is right
yet the soft hands holding cracked hearts bend outward to find horizons
the foolish forgotten with half-bitten tongues wish for the best days
as yet-to-bes yet-to-comes rather than as what-may-have beens

and as the cycle of stars circles round a child-sun playing marbles in the dark,
on one, unremarkable in its ordinariness,
dances a spirit in tutus and feathers
Saturning her hips in hoops
marking one more checkbox of numbered years
toward days-to-comes
and soon-to-bes
and not-yet-nows
preparing smiles for the nightwandering desert dreams to sail in on the breeze
to sleep soundly until the next dawn asks her
how her sun rises

Sunday, June 21, 2015

"To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Daughter" by Jesse Parent

 "To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Daughter" by Jesse Parent. Remember to wait for the addendum.Thanks to The Huffington Post, this video went viral last year.

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Jesse Parent, performing during the Coaches Slam at the 2014 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational.

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Button Poetry is committed to developing a coherent and effective system of production, distribution, promotion and fundraising for spoken word and performance poetry.

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, May 6, 2015

"Friend Zone" by Dylan Garity

"Friend Zone" by Dylan Garity, performed May 6, 2013

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Dylan Garity, performing in the 3rd round of the Saint Paul Grand Slam Poetry Slam on May 6. Buy his book at the Button Shop:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Three powerful Tucson poets feature at the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, May 2

Poets are invited to compete at the seventh Sedona Poetry Slam of the 2014-15 season, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3 in West Sedona.

Maya Asher is one of three featured poets who will perform at the Sedona Poetry Slam on
Saturday, May 2, along with
Mickey Ran and Laura Lacanette, at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre,
2030 W. SR 89A
, in West Sedona.
All three poets are veterans of the Tucson slam
poetry scene.
There will be three featured poets between rounds, Mickey Ran, Laura Lacanette and Maya Asher, three of the most powerful performance poets from Tucson, all of whom have competed at the national level.

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.

Laura Lacanette is one of three featured poets who will perform at the Sedona Poetry Slam on
Saturday, May 2, along with
Mickey Ran and Maya Asher, at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W.
SR 89A
, in West Sedona
. All three poets are veterans of the Tucson slam poetry scene.
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.

Maya Asher is a poet and therapist, in that order. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing, a Bachelor of Science in special education and rehabilitation, and Master of Arts in eehabilitation counseling from the University of Arizona. She is a licensed professional counselor. Asher is a published poet, performance artist, teaching artist, and arts organizer. She has performed poetry at national competitions across the U.S. since 2005. She co-founded the longest running poetry slam in Tucson, Words on Fire, in 2004. She is the facilitator of Poetry and Healing for Spoken Futures and staff member for Tucson Youth Poetry Slam. The craft of writing and the art of performance have taught her about the art of living fully and the craft of creating change.

Mickey Ran is one of three featured poets who will perform at the Sedona Poetry
Slam on Saturday, May 2, along with
Laura Lacanette and Maya Asher, at the
Mary D.
Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, in West Sedona. All three poets are
veterans of the Tucson slam poetry scene.
Laura Lacanette is an aspiring adult. She competed with the Tucson Ocotillo team in 2009 and 2010 at the National Poetry Slam. She is a feminist, poet, gamer, has a degree in engineering, and likes to make up songs on the ukulele about her dog. She loves logic puzzles, pirates and waffle cones. Her favorite Care Bear is Love-a-Lot.

Mickey Ran is a poet, feminist, warrior, teacher, and community builder who has lived and loved in Tucson since 2005. Her mission in life is to foster authentic conversations of equality and empathy among all types of people. She loves consensual hugs, so don't be shy and come say "Hi."

Poets Laura Lacanette, Maya Asher and Mickey Ran, left to right,
will perform at the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, May 2
, at
the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A
, in West Sedona.

All three poets are veterans of the Tucson slam poetry scene.
Asher, Lacanette and Ran were members of the 2010 Ocotillo Poetry Slam Team from Tuscon that competed in the Group Piece Finals at the 2010 National Poetry Slam in Minneapolis, Minn.

The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Sedona poet Christopher Fox Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on nine FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009. Contact Graham at to sign up to slam.

Tickets are $12. Call Mary D. Fisher Theatre at 282-1177 or visit

The slam is the seventh of 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 May 2 slam is the final "open slam" of the season and thus the last chance for poets to compete and earn a berth in the Grand Poetry Slam.

The poets who made the team on June 6 to represent Sedona will share the stage at the National Poetry Slam 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 NPS in Charlotte, N.C., its second to the 2013 NPS in Boston and Cambridge, Mass., and its third to Oakland, Calif., in August.

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.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A brief history of the FlagSlam National Poetry Slam Team

December 2000, FlagSlam founded.

In 2001, 12th National Poetry Slam in Seattle, Wash.:
Grand Slam Champion: Josh Fleming
Nick Fox
Chris Lane
Christopher Fox Graham
Alternate: Eric “A-rek” Matthew Dye
Coach: Andy “War” Wall
After I graduated from Arizona State University and made the FlagSlam team, I moved to Flagstaff in June.

I tried out for the FlagSlam team in 2002 but pulled the "1" and got clobbered. I had already been planning the Save the Male Tour with Josh Fleming, so that was my summer instead. 

In 2002, 13th National Poetry Slam in Minneapolis, Minn.:
Grand Slam Champion: Suzy La Follette
Logan Phillips
Andy “War” Hall
Dom Flemons
Alternate: Jarrod Masseud Karimi (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
Coach and alternate: John Raymond Kofonow
First tie at NPS: New York City-Urbana and Detroit

In 2003, 14th National Poetry Slam in Chicago, Ill.:
Grand Slam Champion: Suzy La Follette
Logan Phillips
Cass Hodges
Dom Flemons
Alternate: Julie Hudgens (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
Coach and alternate: John Raymond Kofonow
I was a volunteer bout manager at NPS in 2003.

In 2004: 15th National Poetry Slam in St. Louis, Mo.:
Grand Slam Champion: Christopher Fox Graham
Eric Larson
Logan Phillips
Brent Heffron
Coaches: Mary Guaraldi, and John Raymond Kofonow
First time all four NPS finalist teams were from west of the Mississippi River (Hollywood's Da Poetry Lounge, Denver, Dallas and Berkeley). One of the worst organized NPSes due to the location of venues relative to each other and the venues in question. This was the first NORAZ Poets slam team.

In 2005: 16th National Poetry Slam in Albuquerque, N.M.:
Grand Slam Champion: Chris Lane
Logan Phillips
Christopher Fox Graham
Meghan Jones
Aaron Johnson
Coaches: Mary Guaraldi and John Raymond Kofonow
FlagSlam sent a crew of poets and supporters because Albuquerque was so close. I was also legal guardian for my ward, Sarrah Wile. One of the best organized NPSes. All venues were within walking distance of the Hotel Blue. The hotel manager lost his job for what he allowed us to do, but won the Spirit of the Slam Award.This was the secondNORAZ Poets slam team.

In 2006: 17th National Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas:
Aaron Johnson
Christopher Fox Graham (kicked off team before the National Poetry Slam)
Meghan Jones (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
Justin “Biskit” Powell
Alternate: A.J. Moyer (Joined team)
Coaches: Greg Nix (quit before the National Poetry Slam) and John Raymond Kofonow (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
This year was a train wreck. Those who know why, know why. I'm glad A.J., Aaron Johnson and Biskit had a good time at NPS, though. This was the third and final NORAZ Poets slam team.

In 2007: 18th National Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas:
Grand Slam Champion: Joseph Nieves
Aaron Johnson
Troy Thurman
J.J. Valentine
Last year Individual Poetry Slam Championships were held at NPS. They would be held at a separate event, the Individual World Poetry Slam starting in 2008.

In 2008: 19th National Poetry Slam in Madison, Wis.:
Grand Slam Champion: Frank O'Brien
Ryan Brown
John Cartier
Jessica Guadarrama
Alternate: Kami Henderson
Coach: Dana Sakowicz

In 2009: 20th National Poetry Slam in West Palm Beach, FL.
Grand Slam Champion: Frank O'Brien
Ryan Brown
John Cartier
Andrew “Antranormus” Wanner
Jessica Guadarrama
Coach: Dana Sakowicz

In 2010: 21st National Poetry Slam in St. Paul, Minn:
Grand Slam Champion: Ryan Brown
Brian Towne
Johnny P (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
RahMahMercy (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
Frank O'Brien (Joined team in Johnny P's slot)
Christopher Fox Graham (Joined team in RahMahMercy's slot)
Alternate: Christopher Harbster (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
I was going to be a volunteer bout manager at NPS in 2010, but wound up on the team.

In 2011: 22nd National Poetry Slam in Cambridge and Boston, Mass.:
Grand Slam Champion: Shaun “nodalone” Srivastava
Maple Dewleaf
Taylor Marie “Tay” Kayonnie-Ehrlich
Christopher Harbster (quit before the National Poetry Slam)
Alternate: Tyler “Valence” Sirvinskas (Joined team)
I was a volunteer venue manager at NPS in 2011. 
In 2012: 23rd National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C.:
Grand Slam Champion: Christopher Fox Graham
Ryan Brown
Tara Pollock (tied)
Shaun “nodalone” Srivastava (tied)
Alternate: Jackson Morris (Joined team)

In 2013: 24th National Poetry Slam in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, Mass.:
Grand Slam Champion: Christopher Fox Graham
Jackson Morris
Vincent Simone
Verbal Kensington (opted out to give Gabbi Jue her slot and compete for the Sedona National Poetry Slam Team)
Alternate: Austin Reeves (Joined team)
2nd alternate: Gabbi Jue (Joined team)

In 2014: 25th National Poetry Slam in Oakland, Calif.:
Grand Slam Champion: Ryan Smalley
Josh Wiss
Josh Floyd
Christopher Fox Graham
Alternate: Claire Pearson (Joined team)
Coach: John Quinonez
A caravan headed from Flagstaff: The Yorktown, The Truth Bomber and The Majin Buu. On the first night in Oakland, The Yorktown was broken into and thieves stole computers and clothes from John Quinonez, Christopher Fox Graham and Ryan Smalley but we still had an awesome time.

In 2015: 26th National Poetry Slam in Oakland, Calif.:
Grand Slam Champion: Ryan Smalley
Christopher Fox Graham 
Gabbi Jue
Vincent Vega
Alternate: Claire Pearson (Joined team)
Coach: John Quinonez

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Game of Thrones" by Lindsey Stirling & Peter Hollens

Published on Sep 5, 2012
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ALL sounds are made by the human voice (Peter) and the violin (mua).

Monday, March 9, 2015

"Four Corners" by Christopher Fox Graham

Dorothea Tanning "Self-Portrait"

"Four Corners"
by Christopher Fox Graham

Cities in the Old World
rise triumphant on the horizon
busy bee hives of doing, doing, doing
while the sounds of sins and salvations
fade into the din of the streets
lost in the cups of beggars
trampled under the footfalls of migrants
the hooves of workhorses
the tires of Model-Ts and Mack Trucks
who we are is swallowed in waddle and daub
buried beneath concrete and asphalt
we become frozen in monuments
to legacies long forgotten

Fields in the East
spread wide to catch the morning sun
stretch fingers toward the sun
a trillion siblings no taller than the next
reach toward the heavens
speak stories on the breeze
rumors caught in the wind
sins and salvations swirl into tornadoes
deafening all that could be heard
who we are is swallowed in the green
reaped in the winters
we become harvests
to feed the generation next

Bayous in the South
lazily roll toward the sea
at a strolling pace
caught low the waters stop and stagnate
no desire to move past churned mud and muck to
these waters do not care who floats by
Arcadian, Anglo, alligator
French, free, slave or sharecropper
sins and salvations ooze in the same stillwater
who we are is drowned in the shallow deep
emptied into the Gulf
we become sediment
to hold back the floodwaters

but the West is always open
nothing here lives easy
there are no off days, no weekends, no bounty
even leafless plants are armed
evolved to resist transgressors
here, the stories on the wind are hollow
the breezes instead ask us to speak
so on the edges of canyons
we cry out our names
shout our stories to absent ears
here, where the gods fear to wander
we have no old religions demanding obedience
no monuments to dead kings dare stand
here, sins dry up into dust
salvations thirst for water
turn their bones white into signal flares
the sunrises, drained of their energies
angered at emptying themselves
to all the green elsewhere
beat down their rage into the soil
drunk on their own desperation
there is a hate that beats back into the sky
building mirages of what could be
loneliness is the only common faith
solitude the universal tongue
who we are is what we choose to remake ourselves
each new day if we survive that long
we become whatever we chose for a moment
to live and fade away

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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Arr. Tom Anderson -
Mix: Ed Boyer

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

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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!