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Sedona Poetry Slam is back May 25 at Mary Fisher Theatre


Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich

Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich


Originally Published: May 20, 2019 11:17 a.m.

The Sedona Poetry Slam brings high-energy, competitive spoken word to the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Saturday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m.

A poetry slam is like a series of high-energy, three-minute one-person plays, judged by the audience. 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.

Mary D. Fisher Theatre is located at 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona. Tickets are $12. For tickets, call 282-1177 or visit SedonaFilmFestival.org.

The first slam of the spring was held Saturday April 27 and featured 11 poets from Flagstaff to Phoenix and several from the Sedona area.

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, May 24, or arrive at the door by 7 p.m. May 25 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 12 FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-18. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.

For more information, visit sedonafilmfestival.com or foxthepoet.blogspot.com.

What is Poetry Slam?

Founded at the Green Mill Tavern in Chicago in 1984 by Marc Smith, 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 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 the last seven years, Sedona sent a four-poet team to National Poetry Slam, held in different cities around the United States every 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., its sixth to Denver and its seventh to Chicago.

Unfortunately, there will be no National Poetry Slam this year due fiscal insolvency of the parent nonprofit, Poetry Slam Inc., last fall. The Sedona poetry slam, however, is doing well as it heads into its 10th year of hosting poetry slams in the Verde Valley.