Flagstaff slam poet Ryan Brown headlines the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, April 9. Poets are invited to compete at the fifth slam of the 2015-16 season, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. SR 89A, Suite A-3, in West Sedona.
Audience members are welcome! Tickets are $12.
All poets are welcome to compete for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. Contact host Christopher Fox Graham at email@example.com to sign up to slam.
Ryan Brown was a member of the the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Teams, and 2008 National Poetry Slam semi-finalist. Born 27 years ago in Phoenix, Arizona, Ryan Brown has been writing and performing poetry in Northern Arizona for nearly nine years. After discovering Flagstaff’s FlagSlam in 2007, Brown began writing poetry with a small group of like-minded young people, eventually taking over as the slam’s Slammaster in the fall of 2008. That year, the Flagstaff poetry scene saw features such as Gypsee Yo and Andrea Gibson hit Flagstaff stages for the first time, reinvigorating a slam community that pulled poets from Northern Arizona University, Sedona, and Phoenix to create one of the largest consistent poetry slams in Arizona.
After slamming at his first National Poetry Slam in 2008, Brown began to focus his writing more on the ideals of community, social networking, and the ever-cliché but always boundless topics of love, intimate relationships, and human connection.
Teaming up with Frank O’Brien on Flagstaff nationals teams in 2008, 2009, and 2010, Brown worked on herb and coffee farms in Hawaii in late 2010, eventually coming back to NAU to get an English degree with the class of 2012. Brown helped build the current FlagSlam scene, which takes place weekly at Firecreek Coffee Co., thriving in an all-ages scene that draws upwards of 100 people on a schoolnight, poets flocking from miles away.
Formerly the Flagstaff Slammaster, Brown’s passion for poetry and poetic expression can be rivaled by his love of baseball, skateboarding, and patio conversations with a few good friends, or a couple of brothers.
He cites John Cartier, Frank O’Brien, Jessica Guadarrama, Aaron Johnson, and Josh Wiss as his biggest influences, both in poetry and in life.
"Ryan Brown is one of the best performance poets to ever come out of Northern Arizona, "Graham said.
"His poem 'Justino' is perhaps the single-best piece of work in the 16-year history of the Flagstaff Poetry Slam. It is an ironically apolitical political poem, condensing America's entire immigration debate into a three-minute narrative, reducing politicians' lofty rhetoric to mere background noise deafened by the din of reality in Arizona's working restaurants."
"Not only is his work polished and brilliant, Brown exhibits a certain savoir-faire envied by poets and fans alike, both on and off the stage," Graham said.
This will be one of Brown's last features in the United States before he leaves in May to teach English in South Korea. His is a performance not to be missed.
What is Poetry Slam?
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.
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 who want to compete should purchase a ticket in case the roster is filled before they arrive. The prize money is funded in part by a donation from Verde Valley poetry supporters Jeanne and Jim Freeland.
The Sedona Poetry Slam will be hosted by Graham, who represented Northern Arizona on nine FlagSlam National Poetry Slams in 2001, 2004-06, 2010 and 2012-15. Graham has hosted the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2009.
The slam is the fifth of the 2015-16 season, which will culminate in selection of Sedona’s fifth National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and alternate who will represent the city and the Verde Valley at the National Poetry Slam in Decatur, Ga., in August. The first four poetry slams took place Oct. 10, Jan. 2, Feb. 6 and March 12.
The last regular slam will be Saturday, May 7. The final Grand Poetry Slam takes place on May 28, to determine the team. The poets who make the team to represent Sedona will share the stage at the week-long National Poetry Slam with 350 of the top poets in the United States, Canada and Europe.
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 and fourth to Oakland, Calif.
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.