Video from Mexican Slam

Some friends have put together some video from La Roma Slam de Poesia that I've been hosting for Tochtli Productions every month since March. More on Mexican slam poetry at: I love being a part of this.

In order of appearance: myself, MC Ewor, Tizano.

Myself, Oscar de Pablo:

Summer tour 2007! NYC! ABQ! FLG! Oh my!

Hello lovers & fighters, apes & lizards, Good news. I'll be back in the States for six weeks this summer, performing in Arizona and New Mexico on my way to spread the word about Mexican poetry slam at the 2007 National Poetry Slam! This means that I will get a chance to see a lot of people whom I haven't seen in awhile. This makes me excited like a Neanderthal going camping.

Also, I have the chance to be in NYC for ten days in July! I have never been before, and am looking forward to it. They tell me that after Mexico City, NYC shouldn't be a problem. We'll see. I have a few dates booked, but I am looking for contacts in New York. If you know of anyone involved in poetry and / or performance & video, please help me out! I could really use it.

The gigs page is now back in action and is filling up with dates. If you know of an event that I should check out in any of the below places, please don't keep it to yourself, luva.

July 1-7: Northern Arizona / Phoenix July 8-18: NYC July: 19-25: Southern Arizona / Tucson / Bisbee (?) July 26-August 4: New Mexico / Albuquerque / Santa Fe August 4-11: Austin, TX, 2007 National Poetry Slam.

See you soon?

UNINTERlingua: la poesía slam

Este jueves pasado tuve la oportunidad de exponer un tema en la conferencia UNINTERlingua aquí en Cuernavaca. UNINTERlingua es una conferencia de lingüística que este año tenía como enfoque "Comunicación: palabra, imagen y acto," organizado por la Universidad Internacional. Claro que eso tiene todo que ver con la poesía slam.

Di una conferencia de una hora que explicaba lo que es la poesía slam, de donde viene y a donde va. También hablábamos de sub-temas lingüísticos y sociales como el españgish y inmigración, utilizando poemas míos y también unos de poetas chicanos muy conocidos, entre ellos Joaquín Zihuatanejo y Alurista. Me pidieron una conferencia en inglés, así que la mayoría sí se encontró en esa lengua, pero claro había muchísimo codeswitching.

Esto realmente es un tema que está cobrando mucha fuerza, gracias a grupos como Tochtli Productions que están organizando slams en el D.F. También mencioné por primera vez en un foro público que próximamente vamos a presentar el primer slam de poesía aquí en Cuernavaca.

Había un público de 50, más o menos, entre ellos estudiantes, profesores, mexicanos, estadounidenses, alemanes y otros. Refleja bien la dinámica del movimiento slam en nivel global, que representa gente de toda las edades, razas y creencias. A mí queda claro que la poesía es una arma que fácilmente se usa para derribar barreras lingüísticas que se divide a la gente, y que ya en el momento que hay un poeta disparando un tema bien escrito y fuerte, todos agarran la onda de la poesía slam.

Back from the Flagstaff tornado wordfire

This post is a little more blog-style than usual. Just back from Flagstaff and facing the seven hours of class I'm about to give...

So, after drinking beer and watching YouTube until sunrise with CX Kidtronik, Frosty and Kwame in a hotel room in PHX, the cab came to take me away. I was drunk and was continually messing up English greetings. I said, for instance, good evening. They would say, good morning, drunkard. Like Christopher Lane said when I left, everything resets when you sleep. Unless you don’t sleep, then you’re yesterdayman in a today world.

I spent all of Earth Day in an empire of airports. I probably slept with my mouth open. After snow flurries in Flag, it was near-rain in LA. Only when landing in DF did it warm up again. Metaphor what you will.


So what was it like? Euphoria tornado beer forest caffeine remix handshake cellphone performance word collapse. It reminds me what Derrick Brown was saying on stage at the show, how good it feels to meet genuinely kind people. Writing that doesn’t seem to convey the right idea. But right from Lane’s friend Colby at the airport the first time, I met a lot of great people in that 72 hours.

Coming into Flag, we didn’t make one single stop before we hit El Charro café on San Francisco. The kids from Brooklyn were looking for nachos and margaritas. A cultural experience, basically. The place kills, as it always has. American-Mexican chiles rellenos and sopapillas... the rest of the night was spent between the minivan, Aaron Johnson’s apartment, Day’s Inn, my sister’s house, the south side, etc.

The next day I picked up the books from the printer on the east side. Thanks go out to Jim for doing an amazing job. Right away I started stuffing and addressing envelopes: all of you that ordered last week will be getting the goods in the next couple days. Let me know if it takes longer. Now, what books are left are here in Cuernavaca, or sitting in a series of boxes across Arizona.

The soundcheck was hectic but was the chance to see everyone under one roof after months of planning: Saul, Derrick, Buddy, Lane, Aaron, Frosty, CX, Kwame, the Orpheum crew, volunteers, etc. Saul is a kind, calm and focused man. It was really interesting talking with him. Then Derrick, Buddy and I hit up the Black Bean, which is a strange sort of ritual everytime Derrick comes into town. Except now they have tequila shots and Derrick has to eat tiny, baby-bird bites. We should have combined the two. It was great to see Buddy again, it had been a couple years. The two of them are on tour in a rented Mustang.

I ate lasagne with my family and generally was cold even inside the house. Then Biskit, Leena, Jewel and Melinda showed up, exploding the place. We all left to the Orpheum, Jewelinda voltron chaos bliss. The show was very, very good. I think I got to see more people on the sidewalk before hand than any other time. I went on a little after nine, shouting ernest gibberish. My set went very quickly, afterwords some people said they expected more, but that is what the show called for. I forgot to say a lot of things that I meant to. Like a shout out to Kingman High School and Sedona Red Rock. Ooops. I’m not sure if Flagstaff realized that the dinosaurs really, really are coming back. Joke’s on them.

Buddy and Derrick have both evolved since I last saw them, both of them are playing with music now, and I thought it worked very well. I had of course heard a lot about Saul’s performances, and knew his work, but it was the first time seeing the two together. It seems like the three of them (Saul and the band) did exactly what they wanted to do, smoothly. Trying to describe the mix of musical genres that they span would only make it sound like a soundbit-laden fusion band, of which they are the opposite. A lot of bands combine sounds in a very intellectual, intentional way, which never works as well as realizing that at one time Bad Brains were playing rap, punk and reggae all at the same time and there’s really no reason for further “innovation” or pseudo-creations of genre-combos. Music is one. It all just flows, as it should.

Flagstaff was euphoric and looking for an afterparty. There was some confusion at the Orpheum and things scattered a bit. It happens, maybe as it should.

Would it be overly dramatic to call the experience life-changing? Of course. But that's just fine. The night reminded me how much I love so many people that I'm now far from, and how much I owe so many of those people. Jesica reminded me how important high school shows are. All of it together reminded me that I can't wait to tour again.

Thanks to Christopher Lane for the idea and the opportunity, thanks to Aaron Johnson for making it happen. Thanks to everyone for coming out, everyone who bought one of the new books, and everyone that said hi. I’ll see you in July.

New books for sale online: one week only.

yes, your billz will buy this here hat and cane.

Ok, ok. Let's try this. I know there are at least a few people out there who want copies of the new books before they're sold out, and that can't make it to the 4/20 Spoken Word Showcase in Flagstaff next week. So how about this:

I'm putting the two new books onsale online for one week only. If you pay for them through PayPal between now and 4/20 and email me your address, I will put them in the mail to you while I am in the States for the show. Sound good? Ok.

  1. This Line Drawn Across Footprints: a high-quality printing of 44 pages, 16 poems in English, 4 Spanish translations, illustrations by Pedro Día, all of my best work from 2004-2005. $8 USD including shipping to anywhere on the globe. I swear. I'll do it.
  2. Where Do Airplanes Build Their Nests?: another 44 pages professionally printed by an independent printshop in Flagstaff. 23 poems, most of which have never been previously published or performed. Original photography from Ireland, England, France, Spain, Mexico, Guatemala and Cuba. All new design work. This is the best from early 2006, when I left Flagstaff, until now, sitting here in Cuernavaca. Also $8 USD, shipped to any country whose government will allow it.
  3. OR I'll send them both for $15. Because I can. I know, crazy.

So, you can pay through PayPal. You know the deal. It's fast, safe and secure. Really. Just hit the button below, as if you were going to "donate" (a ha-ha) and send along the jolly bills. Then send along your jolly address. And I'll send you some brand-new, still-smell-like-ink-and-printers'-armpits books. They may or may not be jolly. One week only, act fast, jivecat.

PS. The image on the right is what I'm gonna look like with all ya bills.


This Line Drawn Across Footprints cover

After three years and four hundred copies of my last book, "Sun Said Shine," I'm excited to say that I will have two new books released at the 4/20 Spoken Word Showcase in Flagstaff, AZ on April 20th.

The first book is "This Line Drawn Across Footprints," and is a compilation of work from 2004-2005 including many form poems and other pieces that were in heavy rotation during the 05 and 06 tours. 44 pages long, 16 poems and brand-new Spanish translations of 4. Pedro Día returns to offer more of his acclaimed illustration work.

Only two hundred copies will be printed this time. Price will be right around $7. Due to still living in Mexico, there are no plans to offer the book for sale online at the moment, maybe that will happen in July.

Here's a list of the poems:

  1. Gadsden in Sestina
  2. Arizonan Ghazels
  3. In Ciudad Júarez, They Say the Night is a Thief
  4. Fabulous, or Where Costs Are Way Far Down
  5. La Conquista Still Unfinished, the Priest Climbed
  6. The Boy's Pockets
  7. Morning of February 21, 2005
  8. I Confuse the Dead Man,
  9. Michael's Fever
  10. This Poem Ate it All
  11. What He Dreams of in His Coma
  12. Fausto Arellano
  13. La Viejita de Sonora
  14. Eight-Year-Old Slinky Falling Down Stairs
  15. Three Times el Búho Speaks
  16. Silverfish

italicized poems in Spanish and English

More info on the other new book soon! Yay!

Hosting the First Mexican Poetry Slam

Sí, sí, voy a traducirlo al español, esperame tantito...Rabid and homegrown, the first regular, open, Chicago-style poetry slam lights fire in Mexico City, asking no permission and needing none.

The Red Fly Tavern is tucked into an old buiding on a quiet street in Colonia Roma, smack in the middle of Mexico City. Steps away is a plaza with soaring trees and fountains. I’m standing across the street from the Tavern, happy and a little amazed about what is about to happen. It hasn’t been especially easy getting here. Untangling the Mexico City subway on a Friday night after a 50 hour work week is recipe for delirium and loss of direction, but not impossible. I cross the street.

Dispite my plans and years of interest, I wasn’t the one to organize the first Mexican poetry slam. I heard about it from a friend who saw it announced on a website, and I immediately dropped all my weekend plans to go. The credit for bringing the first open, regular, Chicago-style poetry slam to Mexico City goes to two women, both of whom are standing at the top of the stairs in the Red Fly when I walk into the space.


Cara Cummings is a Washington State native who has traveled around the world for the last decade, finally landing in Mexico City four years ago. There she met up with Imuris del Valle, a Mexico City born-and-raised asskicker with a unique talent for making big plans and following up on them. Together, they founded Tochtli Productions, and have spent the last two years organizing mostly hip-hop events in the city.

Then, recently, they suddenly decided to go in another direction. Despite the fact that she hadn’t attended a poetry slam in eight years and had never organized or ran one, Cara presented the idea to her compañeros, and off they went. But really, Mexican poetry slam has been years in the process, and lately the signs have been everywhere that it was coming: more interest in performance, various spoken word festivals and an exploding hip-hop scene. That’s not to mention the long, rich history of national poetry, from bombas in Yucatan, to décimas in fandangos, topadas and more.

But tonight is the first that promised to be free and open to all, judged by the audience. Both Cara and Imuris are looking very stressed. A reporter for the national newspaper Reforma, Óscar Cid de León, caught wind of the event, and published a story on the first page of the Cultura section the day of the slam. The night has the potential to explode. The room above the bar is small but perfect. Strange lighting and interior design, a great sound system and a small stage.

I had already emailed Cara, and they both seem happy to see me. They write my name on the signup list, and get swept up again in the swirl of organizing. Cid de León strikes up a conversation with me, and a few minutes pass. Soon we’re ready to start. The judges have been picked, and they ask me to give the “MC speil” to the crowd in Spanish. I ask the judges if they have yet slept with any of the participating poets. They say no and giggle. That out of the way, I explain the other, lesser important things, such as grading scale and what to look for in a poet.

So we’re all set to start. I meet David, who is to host the event. He’s a nice guy, with a great voice for the job. Then it comes out: we have no calibration poet to kick off the evening. Cara, Imuris and I, with our heads in a circle, quickly give up on all other options: I’ll calibrate then help David host. And so it ends up that I co-host the first ever Mexican poetry slam.

I introduce myself and explain that my poem was originally written in English and is directed at my compatriots in the US. I perform “Sin Voz” in Spanish. It’s hard to tell how it goes over, since it’s a translation and also the first poem of the night. The judges give me something like 18 out of 30. No problem, we’re off and running.

Ten poets in the first round. Two women, eight men, a good mix of participants coming from poetry and hip-hop backgrounds. Some of the poems are very, very good, though it’s obvious everyone in the room is getting used to this new format. I have to repeatedly mention the importance of booing and cheering the judges’ scores. Then, sometime just before the second round, it hits me: we’re arrived. Looking around from near the stage, with Cara scribbling numbers, Imuris snapping fotos, the DJ playing music between poets, poets getting ready for the mic and a screaming audience––we’ve arrived. This is it. Poetry slam has arrived, rabid, in Mexico.

By the time we take a break between the second and third rounds, the room is packed, with people spilling out of the door and craning their necks to see the stage. The beer is too expensive, but people are thirsty, and things are getting wilder.

To start the last round, I ask the audience’s permission to do a poem in English. They agree, and I go into “The Boy’s Pockets,” a bit slower than usual. It goes over really well. The third round, “La ronda de la muerte,” we cut to four poets. In the end, a guy named Oscar de Pablo takes it, and later it comes out that he is a published poet. The general concensus is that a few of the MC-poets made better connections with the audience, but tonight it was the published poet that took it.

It turns out the Tochtli girls have big, big plans. The Roma Slam will be every first Friday, with winning poets collecting points that will go towards their participation in the first-ever Mexican Grand Slam in December. The plan is for me to co-host from here on out. Another group already is throwing another, one-off slam later this month in another part of the city. It’s obvious: this is the spark. Before 2007 ends, I could see there being at least five regular slams in the Mexico City area.

After the slam, DJ Aztek sets up, and there is a dance party / freesytle MC battle that lasts for hours. Many of the poets freestyle, and a few MC’s show up just for the battle. At 3am, we’re back at Cara’s apartment a few blocks away, with everyone laughing and reviewing and making plans for the next slam. So it goes.

So it’s official. The international poetry slam movement has arrived to the largest Spanish-speaking country on the planet. Next stop everywhere.

It's official: opening for SAUL WILLIAMS 4/20

Well, this morning the rumors were confirmed:

I will be returning to the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA for my first performance in the US in ten months. I'll be opening the 4/20 SPOKEN WORD SHOWCASE, brought to you by none other than NORAZ Poets Southwest, the non-profit poetry organization out of northern Arizona.

Who else will be performing. Saul? Yes. Buddy Wakefield? Yes. And Derrick C. Brown. Indeed. I can say from personal experience that all three are high-calibur performers, the kind of which are very rare. Derrick has been one of my favorite poets for years, you won't be disppointed.

Also, the event will mark the release of my first chapbooks in two years. Not one, but two. New work from Paris to Guatemala, Arizona to Cuba.

Get your tickets early. This thing will be the largest spoken word event ever in northern Arizona. And it will sell out. More info to come.

Feat. Saul Williams, Buddy Wakefield, Derrick C. Brown and Logan Phillips.

Friday, April 20th, 2007. 8:30pm.
Orpheum Theatre, Flagstaff, Arizona
$20 advance, $25 at the door
Tickets on sale February 14th in Flagstaff
More information at

a somewhat weird graphic, it's true

Poesía en Voz Alta

English translation of this post. Más noticias de poesía slam mexicano.

Lo encontré un poco tarde, pero lo encontré de todos modos. El festival de la UNAM que se llama "Poesía en Voz Alta" ya empezó el jueves pasado. Más información está desponible en el sitio del Casa del Lago.

Este año tienen por lo menos un poeta estadounidense que se llama Amiri Baraka. Él es bien conocido, el movimiento slam en los EUA debe mucho a él. Hasta ahora no he tenido el placer de verlo en vivo, pero casi todos metidos en el movimiento sabemos de él.

Sin duda éste es un fuente importante de poesia contemporánea / moderna en México. Segun los organizdores, se puede encontrar mucho en el festival: poesía encénica, poesía con ritmo, hip hop, spoken word, poesía maya/zapoteca/náhuatl/quechua/guaraní contemporánea, dub poetry, y más.

No he encontrado ninguna mención de concursos de poesía slam, ni un veradero poetry slam, pero de todos modos este es un gran paso adelante en el proyecto.

Espero investigarlo más al fondo. A ver si puedo asistir uno de las sesiones.

New Poems Online

I've decided to post some older poems online finally. Most people who have seen me perform over the last couple years are probably familiar with these, but I haven't ever posted them here because I was saving them for my third chapbook. That chapbook never went to press before I ended up heading for Mexico full-time, and it probably won't see the light until at least Abril 2007 at this point. So I thought it's about time they made it here, better than them just sitting on my hard drive.

All three have been published in various anthologies and poetry publications over the last year. And here's a snapshot from last night in Cuernavaca:

Names for This

You Lightning-Flasher, Shirt-Raiser, lack-of-control Power Blinker, toss the trees around like wet cotton candy, they're drunk marionettes, Power Cutter, Bed Rumbler. The night is a black-eye disco, and you're a violent drunk, Night Storm. Drenching dreams, nowhere to go but right on top of us, roof Slam-Dancer, Sky-Splitter Night Light, Gutter-Deifier, Waterfall-Caller tumbling down window panes, Door-Groper, puddle on the tile. The nosleepers are listening to you, Tomorrow-Maker, Midnight Rumbler. Sharp clouds and nosleep, yer no quitter, Kid, Mountain Bowler, cement puddles, a mud romance.

The clock blinking 12:00 in fear of You.

poesia slam en mexico

Click here for English translation. Hoy empiezo oficialmente algo que me ha interesado muchísimo durante los últimos tres años: la busqueda de una veradera "poetry slam" mexicana.

La idea me occurió por primera vez durante el otoño de 2003 cuando estaba viviendo en Querétaro, México. Antes de irme de Arizona, había estado participando en sesiones de poesia slam por unos dos años en Flagstaff, y abmos años participaba en los concursos nacionales de slam. Al cambiarme a Querétaro, buscaba unos eventos de poesía y también de hip-hop. Había algunos--y sí, algunos buenos--pero nada parecido a slam.

Estaba buscando en el sitio incorrecto, tal vez. Dicen que aunque tiene mucha cultura, Querétaro es una ciudad bien conservadora y la mayoría de sus eventos culturales reflejan esto. Ahorita, al llegar en Cuernavaca--una ciudad muy, pero muy diferente--he decidido investigar más al fondo.

Hay otras cosas aparte mi nuevo encenario que me hacen pensar en esto otra vez. Este verano pasado andaba un poco por Europa: desde Andalucía, España, hasta Francia. En Paris encontré de nuevo unos amigos poetas franceses, los cuales conocí anteriormente en los concursos nacionales estadounidenses de 2005 en Albuquerque, Nuevo México. Me invitaron representar unos poemas en una sesión suya en julio. Había un choque de idomas, gracias al hecho que la gran mayoría de mi obra se encuentra en inglés, pero este evento de slam internacional me impresionó mucho.

Pensando en este tema, le pregunté al Pilote le Hot--un organizor de las sesiones de Paris desde el principio--si hay eventos de poesia slam en España. Pensaba que eso podría ser un paso hacia slam mexicana porque por lo menos los poemas serían en español. Lamentablamente me dijo que no, hasta ahora no ha oido de slam española tampoco.

Como siempre, me pregunto si existe poesía slam en francés, aleman e inglés, ¿por qué no en español? Hoy todavía no tengo respuesta, salvo que sí existe, solo es que no sé de ella.

Y por eso estoy escribiendo estas palabras. Cualquiera persona que tenga información acerca de slam mexicana o española, hazme el favor de contactarme para que nosotros podríamos juntar la experiencia.

Así, quizás, empezamos.

Bienvenue au Café Cheri(e): An American Poet Performing in Paris

A packed house at Café Cheri(e) on this lucid and hot Paris summer night. All up and down Boulevard du Belleville most is quiet: cargo trucks covered in graffiti, the Vietnamese, the Thai district. It’s a Tuesday, and like everywhere, slam makes for a packed house even on a weeknight. The place is bathed in a sweaty red light coming from a chandelier of red bulbs hanging over the heads of the crowd. Spring and I have to squeeze our way in. Smoking is still legal here, and it’s in full effect, the red light falling through it. 9:30pm and the sun hasn’t begun to set outside. Though we arrive after the thing has started, anyone who has been to a few hundred slams over the years (or even a few, I guess) would know exactly what was happening without speaking a word of French.

The infamous Pilote le Hot is a the helm, he’s screaming for scores from the three judges. Maybe 60 people inside, another 30 sitting at tables outside. Pilote and K’trin-D remember me after I introduce myself. We competed against each other in the same bout in Albuquerque at the National Poetry Slam last August. Pilote is in a state I recognize right away: Host Mode. The scattered brain, the running, the yelling, the grinning, all conclusive symptoms. In the midst of it though, he asks me if I would like to read a sacrifice poem before the second round, no matter the language.

“Do you think it would go over well?” I ask, unsure. So far, the widely-held belief that the French are assholes has proved false, but I can imagine that a gringo shouting at them in English from a stage could possibly push them to blows.

“Oh yes, man,” Pilote says in his trademark accent and crooked grin. “Do it.”

It doesn’t take much convincing. After being in a country whose language I don’t speak, where most things seem strange to me, being at a slam is somehow calming, a spot of familiar in a sea of crazy Europe. I drink a beer, talk to a few of the poets around, most of whom speak a little English. “All us poets speak the same language,” one of them tells me.

My heart is beating like it hasn’t before a performance in a long time. The poets have assured me that the crowd will be into it—or at least they probably won’t boo me off the stage, even if they understand very little. I think of the first time I saw Pilote perform, back at the 2003 National Poetry Slam in Chicago. Obviously a lot less people spoke French in that room that speak some English here.

Pilote is back on stage. By way of my introduction, he says “it’s not his fault that he is American,” both in English and French so that we’re all on the same page. The crowd is welcoming and claps even louder as I get on stage, rather than starting to die off, which seems to be the American way of doing things.

“Bonsoir, ça va?” I say into the cordless mic, “Bueno, hablo mucho español and I speak English but je ne parle pas français, but I’m going to learn. Thank you for having me.” I do “The Boy’s Pockets,” maybe over exaggerating the movements a little, as Pilote has told me to perform my ass off, or something like that. I forget the poem about halfway through, as I sometimes do when I’m unpracticed. I freestyle it, weaving back into the poem.

The crowd is generous. Several people approach me later to ask questions about me—and even better—about the poem. The meaning of the word matches for instance: “Lashes?”

“No, matches. To light your cigarette.” A free beer for le artiste, good cheer. They started with around eighteen poets at the beginning of the night, and the cuts are fierce in the second and third rounds. Ángel Pastor is in the house and performing tonight, which is a definite treat. The Spanish-born poet also journeyed to Albuquerque last summer and Danny Solis reportedly called him “a national treasure” after Solis featured here in Paris. And at around 80 years old, Pastor definitely is a treasure.

Standing no more than 5’5”, with long white hair and a long white beard, the man rarely uses a microphone, as he sings cante jondo at the top of his lungs. Old, revolutionary songs modified from time to time to fit modern day. The crowd always loves him and has a chant that they sing every time he comes off stage. After eleven years, the original Paris Poetry Slam (now one of many) is as developed as any slam I’ve seen. While K’trin-D is onstage, some of the other poets are mouthing her poem along with her.

France has had its own National Poetry Slam for the last four years, the 2006 event hosted sixteen adult teams from all over the country and ten adolescent teams. And unlike their American counterparts, these poets are all paid by the state to compete. Everything from rail tickets to lodging and food are covered, which is why the tournament most grow slowly—it requires a massive amount of financial support.

The French National team will be competing at the United States National Poetry Slam for the second time this August in Austin, Texas. Lead by K’trin-D and Pilote, the team will perform in French while their poems are projected in English behind them. If you’re in Austin, they’re worth checking out.

Learn more: La Fédération Française de Slam Poésie: The United States National Poetry slam: Slam Productions (France):

I've Sold Out.

As the 2006 tour winds down, a glance at the infamous Merch Crate tells me this: it’s been a successful trip. Over the last two months, 8,000 miles, five states and 30+ shows, I’ve sold out of every single bit of merch that I had. After two printings and over 400 copies, the book Sun Said Shine is officially gone. There are no plans for another printing, I’d rather spend the money on the next book, whose working title is “This Line Drawn Across Footprints.” The manuscript is finished, Pedro Dia has returned to illustrate, I’ve just lacked the time and finances to put it out. It will happen, this time with more proof reading. The CD Fourteen Ways to Move the Tongue is gone after 100 copies. Likewise with La Calaca T-shirt, a big box of 100 shirts is now one shirt: mine. There might be more CD’s, but that particular shirt is done.

Thanks to everyone who has passed me some money in exchange for any of the above. It means more than you could imagine, and I have no one but you to thank for supporting me during my first four months as a ‘professional’ poet. I promise I didn’t blow all of it on booze. Yet.

Don’t forget though, you can always

via PayPal.

Return to NORAZ

This is going to be a special one, so I'm posting it here on the ol main page. Wednesday, May 17 2006 Logan Phillips feature performance The Well Red Coyote Book Store, Sedona, AZ 6:00pm Come see and hear what the road teaches. This is my only performance in NORAZ during this tour.

"The Well Red Coyote Book Store is located at 3190 W. Hwy 89-A at the corner of Dry Creek Rd. and 89-A. Call 928.282.2284 for more information about this and future events."

2006 NORAZ Grand Slam

For you Northern Arizona cats: the 2006 NORAZ Poets Grand Slam is coming up this weekend. This will be the first time in four years that I won't be competing, but I'm wishing I could attend. Why? Besides the locals bringing the stinging Awesome, the feature is Derrick Brown, who is probably my favorite living poet / performer, bar none. He used to be a weatherman in Flagstaff. He's worth the admission price (or double as much) all by himself. So go. More info: The 2006 NORAZ Poetry Grand Slam, Sunday, April 30. Tickets Available in Sedona at The Well Red Coyote Book Store!

It's coming! The moment we've all been waiting for. The Grand Slam held each year at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Flagstaff.

Doors open at 6:30pm, Show starts at 7pm!!

All proceeds go to helping get our new team to Austin, Tx and back for this years National Poetry Slam!!

This years host was last years Grand Slam Champion, Mr.Lane!

This years featured poet? None other than NAU graduate Derrick Brown!

The night will consist of ten poets competing for the coveted honor of being one of the five members of the 2006 National Poetry Slam Team representing Northern Arizona at the National Poetry Slam help this August in Austin, Tx.

Rowie Shabala Greg Nix Meghan Jones Christopher Fox Graham Aaron Johnson John Kofonow Al Moyer Justin Powel Lindsay Chamberlain and Patrick DuHaime

All will duke it out for an evening you'll never forget!

And you don't have any execuse's to not be there because tickets are even cheaper than last year.

$8 in advance, $7 for students by calling the Orpheum Theatre @ 928.556.1580! Or just go by these locations to buy a few:

The Well Red Coyote Book Store in Sedona Animas Trading Co. in Flagstaff Rainbows End in Flagstaff Gopher Sounds Orpheum Theatre Box Office in Flagstaff

Pure Chaos Whirling at the Puro Slam

San Antonio, Texas, EUAfirst printed in the Arizona Poetry Newsletter

The lightning is flashing so much it looks like some god is changing channels in the sky. The freeway between Austin and San Antonio is one long city, but the only people who live here are the billboards and the streetlights. They’re afraid of the lightning, and so am I. The show in San Antonio starts in half an hour and all the radio can talk about is the hurricane-force winds in the east that are moving toward I-35. The Puro Slam, though, is one of the few shows that’s worth risking electrocution to see.

lees y graf

Outside of Sam’s Burger Joint, the mood is right: sirens, those pre-storm winds, an orange sky, cars pulling up right and left. Anthony Flores and his lady Dee Dee are climbing out of a car and squinting in my direction. Anthony has become one of San Anto’s best poets, and it’s good to see him here. Shaggy, doorman / scorekeeper / announcer / brains-of-the-operation is already inside, his hand buried in some green alien’s head that they use as a tip jar at the door.

Eleven PM and the show finally begins. This is, without a doubt, one of the greatest poetry slams in the country, certainly one of the most unique. It’s a Tuesday, almost midnight, and there’s over a hundred people in the dark and swanky room, many huddled around the drink specials at the bar. It’s beer, it’s poetry, it’s cursing and it is good. Thanks to this being Texas, eighteen-year-olds are also allowed in, though the government says they must stay sober. But there is not a lot of sobriety at the Puro Slam.

Tonight’s host is Ria, who skips announcing the rules and gets straight to insulting the audience, which they love. The woman controls the room with a drink in one hand and her purse in the other. First on the mic is Anthony, as it should be. All you can really ask of poetry slams these days are just a few moments of startling originality, and Anthony brings the unique. “Playing with words is like playing with knives” he chants as he mimes knife juggling, keeping infectious rhythm with his hands clapping as he reads.

The room loves it, as they should. It’s a good crowd, but many of the well-known poets like Anthony are taking the night off from competing: San Anto just had their Grand Slam last week, so everyone is ready to relax. And something else unique has happened here in this city: both Anthony and his daughter, Amanda Flores, have made it on the team that will go to the National Poetry Slam in Austin this August, making them probably the first-ever father / daughter team on a Nationals-bound poetry slam team. It’s like I’m telling him during the first round: writing group pieces is going to be great for them. The second that the crowd realizes they’re seeing a family on stage together, I’m sayin the tens will be in the bag, which is the kind of thing you worry about when going to Nationals.

Ria is onstage making fun of a rookie poet who just performed in a muscle shirt. He deserves it. Puro Slam is not known for being kind: the crowd’s heckling is known throughout the nation. It’s a strange thing, to be in a room full of people watching a poet shaking and sputtering through a played-out rhyming poem, when someone suddenly begins The Carwash Clap. You know The Carwash Clap, if you know Carwash. It’s an unmentioned rule here in San Anto: at the first sign of the crowd starting The Carwash Clap, the poet had better get off stage quickly.

I have no sympathy. A good poetry slam is just a bit mean around the edges: like a carnival with rides, bad cotton candy and a certain menace in the colors of the merry-go-round. At a good poetry slam, anything can happen, which is why the crowd is here.

The first round ends. I’m called up to feature. People have been buying me Red Bull and Vodka for about the last hour and a half. I’m a livewire walking a tightrope in front of a crowd that will either riot or rejoice in a few minutes. I just rip through the poems, lots of yelling, insulting and laughing. I feel pretty well at home when being cut no slack. Cheering and clapping breaks out during my sestina about the border. No Carwash Clap in sight, they’re with me.

It’s 1:30 in the morning when I look around and wonder if anyone still remembers a poetry slam is going on. Ria is loaded, as is everyone else. It’s one of those rare moments when an entire group of people all devolve at once, leaving their normal selves at the door and basking in poetry, chaos and laughter. It’s the Puro Slam and we’re headed toward sunrise.

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

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!

Pictures from Nationals

Ken Arkind, marry me

Let me tell you about the wonderful David Huang. I met him in Minneapolis during my first National Poetry slam in 2002. He is an amazing photographer with a huge heart who just so happens to be obsessed with poetry slam. He attends every major event and shoots constantly with his big camera that is always in his hands. After he has amassed hundreds of photos in one day, he'll upload them on his website, Poetic Dream.

Without him, our movement would be much MUCH less documented.

So, courtesy of my man David Huang, I give you the NPS 05:

Oh Ken Arkind from Denver, let us cross the threshold.

Oh Suz. You're right, yo. So right.

Two of my best friends, Suzy La Follette and Nick Fox.

Jeanne, great benefactor & friend.

Good conversations.

Was I wearing pants in this picture? I can't remember, we had been nightswimming...

A member of Team France, one of my favorite poets from the event in one of my favorite pictures. His cante flamenco pieces, if only I could hear them again.

Performing "Emergency Broadcast System" at our second bout.

"I don't know what that poem was about, but boy were those cool t-shirts!"

Performing our duo "This Spanish."


"This poem should be about my lungs / filled only with the names of men / who have given me entire worlds."


"A hundred boys fighting to be king of the playground!"

Push it, Meg.

If you had never heard of poetry slam, what the hell would you think we were doing in this picture?!

"Here's the wind-up and the pitch..."

"Raise up your left hands!"

I said raise them!!

Scream it, Aaron baby.

Raise them, bitches! This is our last poem at Nationals!

And we plead with you, audience!

"You gotta reach out and grab this big ugly world by its balls with ya left hand!"

Celebration! Yay France! Yay Berekley! Yay Eugene! Yay us!

National Poetry Slam 2005!

It's that time of the year again. Over 400 poets decend on an unsuspecting city for a week of some of the most dynamic and relevant poetry around. Sure, it's a competition, but you won't be able to tell that at 3am when groups of people from all over the nation (and France) are still on street corners in tight circles letting their poems rip from their mouths. It's the National Poetry Slam 2005. If you are anywhere close, there is no reason to miss this.

Oh, and my Team NORAZ 2005 will be competing. Come see us perform brand-spankin' new group poems in front of rabid audiences. It's all happening. I'll be posting updates soon...

WEDNESDAY 7pm @ THE LAUNCHPAD 618 Central Ave SW Albuquerque, NM 87102 NORAZ Miami Corpus Christi St. Louis Central NJ STORM POET: Karrie Waarala

THURSDAY 9PM @ GORILLA TANGO LOFT 519 Central Ave. NW Albuquerque, NM 87102 Berkeley France NORAZ Palatine Eugene STORM POET: Ragan Fox

High Noon & High Water at the Southwest Shootout

The minivan that the car rental place gave us is called the Kia Sedona. I-35 just north of Austin is known as one of the worst-designed freeways in the United States. The last time I passed through it, my friend Tammy Gomez in Ft. Worth told me that engineering professors from UT bring their students here and instruct them on hownot to design.

We're staying with the infamous Suzy La Follette on S. Congress, just on the other side of the bridge from the Texas State Capitol building, which is an exact replica of the national capitol building except that, of course, in true Texas style, it is 14' taller than the dome in Washington.

Even the poets and swimming pools are huge here.

Last night in the priliminary round our Team NORAZ took third against four other teams.

Southwest Shootout 2005, Austin!

Two teams from Albuquerque, Houston, NORAZ and arriving last to the venue, Team Austin. I was afraid that maybe they broke down on the long drive to reach the venue. Mike Henry was showing scenes from the upcoming slam documentary Slam Planet before the action, so Andy Buck arrived early in a way, projected.

The Albuquerque team headed to the National Poetry Slam is working hard not to dissapoint their community in August. And they're well on the way.

We don't know if we'll get to perform tonight. Before finals, there will be a one-poem head-to-head to decide which team goes into the finals: NORAZ or San Antonio. We're throwing up Christopher Lane with "Poetry Is Still." All is riding on him. Last night we played it real risky, saving our best poems for the finals. This is where we deserve to be and where we perform best.

Krissy Reeves tells me that today is the middle day. Exactly 182 days of 2005 have already passed, 182 still left to go.

We go on stage at eight pm.

Suzy just finished shaving my head.