Flagstaff blizzard.

And then the big winds camearound midnight, the radio station was tracking their arrival to the city. This just in to the West Side first.

Went walking beforehand, foot after foot, to the knee, deep snow. Deeper-than-dog snow. Dog bounding through snow and disappearing between bounds. I did a fall I call the inverse snow angel. (Video available upon request). falling thick.

And then the big winds did come, rearranging the powder as they saw fit. I saw it until the windows iced over. Then came the flashes of lighting unheard of in a blizzard, light bouncing between snow and low clouds, the whole world crackling purple white.

Woke up on the couch at dawn, the sun had come to breakfast. I was surprised and went back to sleep. The sun stayed anyway. Brilliant day. Sky without a trace of adjectives. I walked to Macy's. The coffee provisions had run out in our orange bunker.

Drank and thought about how the only way to live a desert is stories. Silko, Ortiz, first Australians, Bowden, Jews they all know this. Voices that shape the sand like big winds the snow. Stories that shape the ear. But how to explain that silence? The space after this stanza, the long horizon where words are born.

The stillness of staying home. Stillness rare like snow lightning. Stillness of cars stuck in the street.

And then the snow plow came and it didn't matter much, chaos is still chaos no matter who tries to own it. The City plows the rich neighborhoods first. Of course.

Resurrected my sister's car at sunset with a borrowed snow shovel. More is forecast, and what's here will freeze good tonight. Good to think we can leave when we want. But it's that silence we're after.

• • • L

for alison diciembre 2009

merry haunzakwanzamas & solstice, everybody

• •

Avie is surprised to see the sun come over without calling first.

Buen día.

Orange Bunker.

Snow turns the neighborhood back into forest.

Flag is very white, but tries to be colorful as well.

The space between things.

Always good to have arms for work. I spent an hour moving pounds of snow that won't exist if the sun sticks around. Like all work.

Letter to Youth of the Peaks


As Mike 360 said, as Leslie Marmon Silko said, as Rigoberta Menchú Tum said, as Miguel Angél Asturias said, as Simon J. Ortiz said, as Blackfire said, as Gloria Anzaldúa said, as Youth of the Peaks screams now,

¡Qué viva la cultura! ¡Qué viva la lucha!

Hello Youth of the Peaks,

my friends, I write you from central Guatemala, Sololá department. I write you on the occasion of your February summit, hoping that you are all well and that snow has blessed the lands since I left. I should be more specific: just enough snow for the trees, not enough for Snowbowl to open. Snow from the sky, and not what we call here "agua negra." Though I feel very far from the mountains that I have called home, I have been reminded of Flagstaff and especially of you all often on this camino. I write you hoping to pass on some of the things that I am seeing in my travels.

Outside San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas the most humble cement neighborhoods have spraypainted signs that read "AGUA ES VIDA, CUIDELA." Here the traditional Maya people consider their flesh to be made of maize. Foreigners like me are of course "wheat people."

The people here have also seen changes grow strong in the last years: "where culture and economy collide," rings true here as well. On the Lago Atitlán, one of Guatemala's most-touristed places, las milpas (fields of maize) still grow on terraces down the shore. Here too the peaks are sacred: the three volcanoes that form the walls of the lake hold the clouds tight around them, and café and maiz are grown in their soil. In the northern jungle along the Rio Ixcán, la tierra is so fertile that it gives harvest twice a year. Elders still wear the ropa tipica (traditional dress) and new hotels are built every year.

The thirty-six year-long civil war officially ended in 1996 when the indigenous, mostly Mayan highlander guerillas signed los Acuerdos de Paz with the government. Over 200,000 people, mostly indigenous civilians were killed or disappeared. Most of the tourism industry has developed in the last eight years, along with government infrastructure. The central government continues to build and improve "services" in the jungle, leading to a large influx of poor ladinos (guatemaltecos of mixed blood, no longer folllowing traditional ways) onto land that had been of the Chuj, Jacalteque, Kanjobal and Ixil. With the war ended, lives are generally safer but traditional ways of life continue to be in danger. Like in Flagstaff, here they also try to disguise the cellphone towers as trees. For the past 500 years the people here have been made to work, first as slaves then later for pennies on the foreign-owned fincas (plantations) of café, algodón (cotton), and azúcar (sugar). Now the practice of leaving the mountain aldeas (villages) for the coastal fincas to work for 4-7 months a year is becoming less popular than leaving to the United States, often for years at a time. When I tell people here I'm from Arizona, they know exactly where I mean.

When I tell people here that a group of jovenes indigenas (indigenous youth) from northern Arizona have organized politically to protect their cultural beliefs, they're not sure what to say. During the war, organization was very dangerous. In the early 1980's the government adopted a "scorched earth" policy against the guerillas, entire aldeas were massacred and buried in mass graves as punishment for allegedly supporting rebel groups. Currently things are safer for civil society, but still not like what we know in the States. People here smile when they hear of you.

Sometimes it seems that all I'm doing by traveling is searching for perspective. Sometimes the farther away I get, the clearer things become. Sometimes it's the opposite. I'm writing you to share these things I'm learning, but also to tell you that from here, removed from your area, what you all are doing seems yet even more incredible. You have like-minded people all over the continent that share your vision. There are many in this world who value culture before money. Like the graffiti in San Cristóbal says, "¡VIVAN LOS RESISTANTES DEL MUNDO!" The first indigenous president of Bolivia, Evo Morales was just inaugurated wearing ropa tipica, and indigenous groups around the country came together to hold a ceremony naming him as their leader, the first time they have held the ceremony in about 500 years. Part of his inauguration speech from just a few weeks ago:

The 500 years of Indian resistance have not been in vain. From 500 years of resistance we pass to another 500 years in power... We have been condemned, humiliated ... and never recognized as human beings... We are here and we say that we have achieved power to end the injustice, the inequality and oppression that we have lived under... The original indigenous movement, as well as our ancestors, dreamt about recovering the territory.

And tell J.R. Murray and Bruce Babbit to listen to guatemalteco writer Miguel Angél Asturias when he says “la tierra es ingrata cuando la habitan hombres ingratos.” They say Snowbowl will go out of business due to the drought. "The earth is ungracious when it is populated by ungrateful men."

I'm honored to be counted among your friends. Remember that no judge will ever decide what is sacred or what isn't, as human beings we each reserve that for ourselves. Congratulations on all that you've accomplished and don't stop planning the next thing. Keep in touch.

El pueblo unido...

logan timoteo phillips Cobán, La Verapaz, Guatemala 06febrero2006

Article from the Lumberjack

lumberjack article

I've been meaning to post this for awhile, but finally got around to it today. This is pretty cool: an article on me and the border events last April from The Lumberjack, the student newspaper of Northern Arizona University, where I graduated from back in May. Autumn Moodie did a great job, although for the record, I'm not an English Graduate Student, that's just a "mistake" which made it easier for the editors to accept the story, I think.

Here's a PDF of the article.

Return of the FlagSlam

So yes, it's true that I haven't been updating the website near as much as in the past, but life has been rockin my cruise ship a bit lately and cyberworld hasn't seemed quite so important. But why dwell on that, when things are looking up: I'll be hosting Flagstaff's poetry slam for one last semester this fall and I'm really looking forward to it. Lily White has also said that she'll be sharing the responsibilites, which, let me tell you, tickles me. I love to host. I'm not sure what it is. I'm outside of the competition and get to encourage the newbies and give the vets a hard time... it's a blast.

Come check it out:

*********** THE FLAGSLAM: 2005-2006 Season Kickoff featuring BIG POPPA E WEDNESDAY September 14, 2005 now at THE HIVE (319 S. San Francisco St.) sign-up 7:30, slam @ 8:00pm, $2 admission Adult language & themes, hosted by Logan Phillips ***********

We start out Year Five in our best venue yet, the Hive, located near the corner of S. San Francisco and Butler. Just look for the steeple--the Hive is housed in the building of Flagstaff's oldest church. First up on the pulpit? LOGAN PHILLIPS returns as FlagSlam host for the fall season.

"THE FUNNIEST POET IN SLAM!" The Austin Chronicle


"AN ICON!" Ms. Magazine

"LEGENDARY!" The Albuquerque Journal

Who could the above quotes be referring to? Why, our featured poet of course! He is none other than BIG POPPA E, a veteran poet now out of Austin, TX. He has been seen on Def Poetry Jam and on several National Poetry Slam finals stages. He can rock a room like no other, and be sure to bring a few extra bucks to pick up one of his books or DVD's, trust us, you'll want to. Get a taste of BPE online at http://www.bigpoppae.com

SUGAR, CAFFEINE & VERSE: Munchies, beverages and underground merchandise will be on sale. Bring the dolla billz.

HURRICANE KATRINA RELIEF: We will be accepting donations of nonperishable food items, clothing and bottled water for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Please be generous.

POETS: Sign-up is in the back room of the Hive from 7:30 to 7:45 sharp. 15 poets will compete in the slam, and this is how they'll be picked: the first 7 poets to sign-up are automatically in the slam. Everyone that signs up after that will have their name put in a hat, from which we will draw 8 names. That makes 15 poets total. Be sure to bring three of your original poems. This is the most fair system we've been able to come up with, if you have suggestions, reply to this email, or better yet, come to a volunteer meeting: 1st & 3rd Wednesdays, 6-7pm @ The Hive.

*********** POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP & OPEN MIC Not digging the competition, or want to polish your work outside of the slam? Check this out: every Monday at the Campus Coffee Bean (1800 S. Milton) bring multiple copies of a poem to workshop with a small, supportive group. Free & open to all. Workshop @ 7pm sharp, Open Mic @ 8pm.

FLAGSLAM VOLUNTEER COUNCIL Want to get involved? Good, cause we need you! All are welcome to our biweekly meetings where we decide how the FlagSlam is run, who we want to feature & a whole lot more. 1st & 3rd Wednesdays, 6-7pm @ The Hive. ***********

It's time for a good slam! Metaphor! Poetry! Hilarity! Soul! Community! WEDNESDAYS! http://www.flagstaffpoetry.com http://www.norazpoets.org

Dom Flemons in His Element

One of my favorite things to see is my friends being successful at what they love to do. Hopefully this post will be the first in a series giving props to the people who I respect and helping publicize their various projects.

Dom Flemons cover

So, first up, none other than Dom Flemons.

I met Dom my Freshman year at Northern Arizona University at a campus poetry slam. He had just started slamming as well but had quickly become the unchallenged diva, due to his huge personality, hilarious writing and stage experience. We were teammates on our first two poetry teams the following year, at the 2002 National Collegiate Poetry Slam in Cleveland and the 2002 National Poetry Slam in Minneapolis.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of being his friend, listening to his music, arguing with him about everything under the sun, and just generally watching his afro and talent grow larger and larger. I've designed his last four self-released CD's, the cover of one is on the right.

Now, Dom has left Flagstaff and has found himself right where he needs to be. He's one third of the rockin' Sankofa Strings, a "african-american string band" that is quickly gaining attention. I remember telling Dom years ago that while his solo performances were epic, a band was the way to go for him. I mention that now not because I had anything to do with Sankofa Strings, but just to rub it in, should he read this, sucka.

Flagstaff's NPR affiliate, KNAU interviewed the band when they were in the area recently. Listen to the interview, it makes me beam.

This is happy fate.

Beyond Page vs. Stage: Slam Poetry as an Accessible Form

Ever heard the phrase "slam poetry isn't real poetry?"

Come explore that idea for yourself at a presentation given this Friday, April 22nd at 4:30pm at NAU's DuBois ballroom in Flagstaff. Local poet and NORAZ Poets advisory board member Logan Phillips will present slam poetry as a poetry form, as valid as the more well-known forms of sestinas, villanelles or haiku. Following the lecture, there will be a small panel discussion which will include Prescott poet and advisory board member Daniel H. Seaman.

Part of the 9th Annual Conference at the Peaks, presented by the Organization of Graduate Students of English, the presentation follows this year's theme of "The River of Words: Exploring Fluidity and Dynamism in Literature and Language." Hardly anything is as dynamic as slam poetry, a young form that has exploded across the nation over the last 20 years. So come out and explore the ideas surrounding poetry forms.

NORAZ Poets is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which promotes poetry and poetry events in NORthern AriZona. More information: http://www.norazpoets.org

Presentation Abstract: Since it’s inception in the mid-1980’s, the competitive art of Poetry Slam has only continued to gain popularity, media exposure and momentum. This year, the fifteenth annual National Poetry Slam will be held just four hours from Flagstaff in Albuquerque, NM. This offers a unique opportunity for our thriving literary community to reflect on the influence and discourse of slam poetry here in Northern Arizona.

Our brief presentation, followed by a small panel discussion, will seek to debunk the “stage vs. page” myth by exploring the characteristics of slam poetry not as the opposite of “page poetry,” but rather as another poetry form. Equally as valid of a form as a sestina or sonnet, slam poetry draws on a long tradition of oral expression and is marked by specific characteristics which define it clearly. These characteristics include distinct uses of repetition, length, subject matter, and yes, even meter. Equally informed by hip-hop, popular culture, stand-up comedy, forensics and “traditional” poetry, slam is very visible and accessible, often acting as an entry point into the literary arts for those who may not have been exposed to them otherwise. This initial exposure often leads to further involvement in the literary community, as we will show using examples from our own area.

Far from being mutually exclusive, slam poetry and the more traditional literary arts stand to gain much from each other. Nowhere in poetry are popular culture and our society so clearly reflected, defined and critiqued as within slam. One could liken the young form to a flash flood entering the wider river of words, adding not only new audience and power, but also seeking to define itself and find its place within the flow of the literary arts.

dirtyverbs on the airwaves

I'll be on the University's KJACK radio this Tuesday from 7pm-8pm, MST talking up the Grand Slam and probably doing a poem or two. Tune in via streaming mp3 or streaming window media player. This will be the second radio program I've been on in the last two weeks, last week Emilie Vardaman featured my poem "La Viejita de Sonora" on KBRP, 96.1 LP FM Bisbee during her borderlands poetry show. She explains the "LP" stands for "low power," meaning the broadcast just reaches Old Bisbee, they're hoping to boost power to cover Warren soon.

Michael’s Fever

20s-era rental built of bent boards,bad carpet and brick. A falling value, south of downtown and neglect by landlords. But at night, through the windows pass drafts and views,

I find him standing when I get up to piss. His shoulders defeated, his open mouth holds a yellow tongue in bubbling bliss, his eyes unkempt. I ask if he's ok.

There’s a sun in the south,

he replies, standing dead asleep. The windchime is the breeze's punching bag, the curtains are canvas sails burning and they leap to catch us, doors slamming, our clothes in red rags.

Forensics will find us tomorrow, but still none can explain the smoldering window sill.

A semifinal fuego

Así ando ya.

The final scores of the semi-final, finally semitasticallitious:
Semi-Final Champion: Logan Phillips
, #7 seed, 88.4
2nd: Sharkie Marado, #12 seed, 85.0
3rd: Aaron Johnson, #1 seed, 84.2
4th: Al Moyer, #3 seed, 82.0
5th: Ryan Guide, #14 seed, 80.1

6th: Kimmy Wilgus, #16 seed, 79.5
7th: Justin Powell, #8 seed, 79.4
8th: Sarah Knurr, #19 seed, 73.4
David Rogers "Doc" Luben, #9 seed, was unfortunately unable to attend the slam and will not compete this year for the Team NORAZ.
From the NORAZ Poets Grand Slam page

Saturday, April 23rd. The 2005 NORAZ Poetry Grand Slam. Be there.

Giving the Check to NACASA

So it's been almost a month since the Siren Slam, the FlagSlam's celebration of women's voice in poetry. It was hosted by Suzy La Follette and Andrea Gibson as part of their Siren's Iris tour and was a huge success: over 15 women from all over NORAZ threw down to a crowd that was the biggest we've seen all spring. Check out the audio that I recorded to hear what I mean. All of the proceeds, plus donations made during the slam were to be given to NACASA, the Northern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault. When we decided on the NACASA donation idea, I really didn't know as much about them as I thought they did. Actually, I still didn't until today. Today I gave the check for $288.10 from NORAZ Poets to Nancy Hiatt, the executive director of NACASA.

It was absolutely one of the most positive things that poetry has ever allowed me to do. Nancy's eyes lit up, her hand found her mouth, "I really didn't think it would be this much," she said, "we were expecting around $100." I told her the story of the night, how the donation jar came back with $80, filled with 5's and 10's, how Suzy decided on the spot that the Siren Slam would be a yearly event, the explosive crowd, the laughter. Then she stopped me, as we were joined by Sara Thome, who is the SART Advocate/Coordinator.

"I don't want you or anyone else to think that this is a small amount of money," Sara said. "$288.10 pays for half of the training we give to a nurse so that they can work here. $288.10 helps us pay our staff." She went on to say that the money would go toward a prophylactic given to women when they come in after an assault to help prevent the transmission of STD's.

This was, and is the real thing. There I was, handing the money to the people that fight for the things so many of us believe in. We have quite literally put our money where our collective mouth is.

Sara and Nancy also spoke of how much they loved the Siren Slam poster, so much so that one of their copies was currently being framed to hang in the front room. They were both still disappointed that they hadn't been able to make it to the slam, there had been an important board meeting that night. They wanted to make up for it by coming to next month's Grand Slam, where they'll have a table with literature and information.

I tell this story in thanks to everyone in our community who made the Siren Slam so incredible. Sure, I went to NACASA today, but it was all of us who handed that check to Nancy.

Thank you.

Semifinals: April 1, Echale Leña

So word just came down on the 2005 NORAZ Semifinals: I'll be slamming in Sedona at the Canyon Moon Theatre a week from tomorrow: Friday, April 1st. This is going to be an absolute blast. Hearts will be broken, that's for sure, but nothing is for certain, which makes all of this so much fun. Get your tickets early, they'll sell out by early next week. Oh, and the one and only Danny Solis from Albuquerque will be the featured poet. He's one of my favorites, I've learned a lot from him. So come to Sedona! The full list:

April 1, at the Canyon Moon Theatre in Sedona o Sharkie Marado o Al Moyer o Sarah Knurr o Aaron Johnson o Kimmy Wilgus o Ryan Guide o Justin Powell o Logan Phillips o Doc Luben

April 12, at Studio One Eleven in Flagstaff o Greg Nix o Christopher Lane o Patrick DuHaine o Eric Larson o Christopher Fox Graham o Rowie Shebala o Lindsay Chamberlain o Meghan Jones

Running with Ove & el poema japones

So this week has been insane in a land of insanity. My man Oveous Maximus from NYC arrived in the PHX at 12:45 Monday morning, I picked him up & we drove to Sedona. I again spent all of Monday in Sedona Red Rock High School, teaching with Christopher Lane as part of NORAZ Poet's Young Voices, Be Heard program. The lesson of the week was haiku. Now let's get this straight. I have never come across a haiku written in Spanish, and after talking it up with some Lit professors I know, it doesn't sound like it's very common. So I say it's never been done, which means that the Spanish-speaking students of SRRH wrote some of the first Spanish haiku ever. Yes indeed. These kids rock. Un poema japones, viene de un juego que jugaba los poetas japoneses hace tres siglos. Está caraterizido por ser corto, como un pedazo de la vida, usualmente se trata de la naturaleza. Imaginense una foto poetico... no se puede incluir todo ¿no? Por eso, eligimos una imagen y la presentamos en menos de diez palabras...

Then the FlagSlam Tuesday night, Ove rocked the house and I got it all recorded crystal clear. Look for it soon on a compliation of the 2004-05 FlagSlam features... We performed on Wednesday at NAU as part of the University Hunger Project, another cool, if very different, gig. We freestyled together for the last poem of the night, there will be video of that online sometime in the future.

So that's life, remembering that the poetry is the fire in the piston... Ove discovering silence in the Grand Canyon and stars in the night sky...