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Remembering Christopher Lane 10 years after his death

Tags: slam poet lane

10 years ago today, a mutual friend called me early in the morning to let me know Christopher Lane had died. As I wrote 14 days ago on what would have been his 50th birthday, Lane and I were friends, enemies, rivals, collaborators and competitors. I wrote that we were often confused for the other by people in Sedona, mainly by older residents who met one of us -- as two 20ish/30ish slightly balding white guys with goatees who did slam poetry both named "Christopher" -- we were objectively very similar. They would ask me about his children thinking they were mine or ask him about my newspaper stories. 

We had had a falling out in 2006 that we never really rectified. In February 2007, Sedona Monthly ran an article of Lane's franchise of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project and accidently ran my name instead throughout the story and in all the photo captions, to which I took great delight; the reporter had never met me but somehow confused us. Lane later visited the Sedona Red Rock News to tease me about it and congratulate me on the story about him.

By 2009, when I started host the new Sedona Poetry Slam, he was doing his own poetry events, working with youth at Sedona Red Rock High School and the Alzheimer's Poetry Project. I thought, and I think he have too, that we would some day make peace as we had more in common than not.

Sober for over a decade, went to his old stomping grounds in Dallas in 2012 and died later in Sedona from drug-related complications, 14 days after he turned 40.

Christopher Michael Lane

Aug. 5, 1972 — Aug. 19, 2012

Christopher Lane, 40, of Sedona, died unexpectedly at home Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012. Lane is survived by his wife Akasha, sons Oren, 8, and Zephryn, 3; mother Jo Anna Lane; sister Becky Sherrill and J.B., and their children Jennifer, Jonathan and Jordan; brother Eddie Lane II and Sue, their two children; and brother Stephen Lane and Tina, and their two children. Founder of NORAZ Poets, Lane joyfully worked with local high schoolers and Alzheimer’s patients spreading the healing power of poetry. A memorial is Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, at 5 p.m. at Indian Gardens Park. Carpooling is mandatory.

Our History

Christopher Lane grew up in Dallas. His father Eddie Lane died while they were at a lake east of Dallas when Christopher Lane was 11. He wrote about it in the poem "This Arizona Red Dirt."

Lane worked to open Best Buy locations in the late 1990s. He and met one of his buddies from those days at a restaurant in Scottsdale where they rehashed the crazy things and drugs they did. Lane famously had to often clear his upper sinuses with this snort-inhale thing he did because the cocaine and meth had torn up the cartilage between his upper nostrils. Lane left Dallas to get out of the drug scene, moving to Sedona to live with family and detox, telling me later that if he hadn't, he would have died in Dallas.

In a weird karmic twist, I now live a few houses away from his relative's former house, in whose basement apartment he got clean and sober, though his relative lost it to foreclosure in the Great Recession, seven years before I moved into my now-house. Lane later moved into a tiny trailer behind and above Indian Gardens Cafe & Market and Garland's Jewelry Store in Oak Creek Canyon. He worked in the market, as a waiter at Garland's Lodge further north in the canyon was the de facto night watchman over the jewelry store, which had loads of silver and turquoise and, aside from Sedona Fire District Station 5, not another neighbor for miles. Every few months he had to scare away someone, though I don't think anyone every successful broke in.

I met him a short while after at the first few Flagstaff Poetry Slams at The Alley Bar, which has since gone through several incarnations before becoming Firecreek Coffee Co., on Route 66.

We were on the first Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team in 2001, with slam champion Joshua Fleming, slammaster Nick Fox, hip-hop poet Eric "A-rek" Dye, and our beloved coach and future college professor Andy "War" Hall.

A lot of his history is in 2002 poetry book, "Who Is Your God Now?"

After a year as slammaster of the Flagstaff Poetry Slam, I toured the country for three months in the summer of 2002 with poet Joshua Fleming, playwright David Escobedo and singer and songwriter Keith Breucker. 

After the tour, I moved to Phoenix. I would slam in Sedona and Flagstaff for bigger events. I moved to Sedona in March 2004 to help Lane run NORAZ Poets, our 501(c)(3) nonprofit, on whose board I was treasurer. Lane's wife was pregnant with their first son, Oren, and Lane needed someone who could run around Sedona promoting NORAZ Poets and chaparoning touring poets and putting them up for a few nights on my sofa.

Judges at the Canyon Moon Theatre for a Sedona Poetry Slam 

We were going to compete for real, no holds barred, on Friday, April 23, 2004, at the NORAZ Poets Grand Slam at the Orpheum Theater, but Akasha went into labor with Oren.

At the time I wrote: 

"Christopher Lane and Akasha had a baby at 8:17 on Friday night, Oren Jacob Lane ... 7lbs, 9oz. Already has more hair than Lane, and his beard is coming in the same. Oddly enough, I hear he's already taller than Chris. I am a surrogate uncle. But it means he was out of the slam ...." 

Then I wrote about my strep throat, adding, "by the Slam, I was feeling OK, more or less."

"More on the Slam later. Suffice it to say, the venue rocked, the audience was fucking huge, the host Bill Campana, feature (one of my best friends and former touring partner) Josh Fleming, calibrators Rebekah Crisp, John R. Kofonow, Dan Seaman, and Suzy La Follette, and slammers Justin "Biscuit" Powell, Sharkey Marado, Cass Hodges, Aaron Johnson, (and my NORAZ Teammates:) Brent Heffron, Logan Phillips, and Eric Larson were amazing. I was honored to share that stage. Everyone I know, poetry-wise in Northern Arizona was there, in addition to my Mom and step-dad Bill, and my Phoenician best friends Michael 'KuK' KuKuruga, Nikki Kaufmann, Kevin Crawford and his wife Erin Crawford." 

"Oh, and I won the slam. By more than 4 1/2 points while everyone else was fighting for the 1/10ths of points between them. Whoopty-fucking-do."

Because what Lane and I wanted was a real head-to-head. But Lane clearly loved being a father to Oren:

In 2005, Lane made the grand slam. I took third, after Logan Phillips, but ahead of Meghan Jones and Aaron Johnson. Logan Phillips made a DVD:


NORAZ Poets won the Arizona state championship at the 5th annual Arcosanti Slab City Slam

The Arizona State Championship title has returned to NORthern AriZona. The NORAZ Poets won the Arcosanti Slab City Slam on April 28, by 16.5 points.
"That's two touchdowns and a field goal," Christopher Lane, NORAZ Poets executive director and Team NORAZ member, said.
The fifth annual Arcosanti Slab City Slam featured 10 teams from all across the state. The NORAZ Poets included three teams of four poets each. Team NORAZ, Team Prescott, Team FlagSlam, faced off against Team Tucson, Team Arcosanti, The Loose Nuts, Hangover Express, a third Phoenix team, The X-Hosts, a team of slam hosts from the East Valley of Phoenix and Team NORAZ's cross-state arch-rivals Team Mesa Nationals, who has won the last four This year's Mesa team includes Brent Heffron a member of the 2004 Team NORAZ.
The championship team consisted of 4 of the 5 members of Team NORAZ:
Christopher Lane, of Sedona
Meghan Jones, of Flagstaff
Christopher Fox Graham, of Sedona, and
Logan Philips, of Flagstaff.

Team Prescott:
Eric Larson, of Prescott, and a member of 2004 Team NORAZ
Patrick David DuHaime, of Prescott
David Rogers "Doc" Luben, of Prescott, and
Greg Nix, of Flagstaff

Team FlagSlam:
Aaron Johnson, of Flastaff, the fifth member of Team NORAZ
Kimmy Wilgus of Flagstaff
Rhett Pepe, of Flagstaff
John R. Kofonow, Slam Master of Flagstaff

The tournament consisted of all 10 teams competing in two preliminary rounds.
Christopher Lane, kicking off the slam with "if this poem," starting in the middle of the crowd and moving to the microphone as he performed. At the end of the first round, Team Mesa was ahead by a slim margin. But Meghan Jones' poem, "Where's Your Microphone?," a plea to the women poets in the crowd to become slam poets started off the second round with Team NORAZ in the lead, and the margin of victory only increased. Christopher Fox Graham's "We Call Him Papa" and Logan Philips' "The Boy's Pockets" cemented their lead.
As round two rolled around, Team Mesa came in fierce in the first slot. Team FlagSlam was in the third slot, followed by Team Prescott, and Team NORAZ in the sixth slot. Logan Philips started off with "Worth of Words," followed by Meghan Jones' "Patches", Christopher Fox Graham's "Spinal Language" and closing out the last round of the bout with Christopher Lane's "poetry is still."
The final bout would be the top 4 teams: Team NORAZ, Team Prescott,, Team Tucson and Team Mesa Nationals.
The night's poetry feature was Luke Warm Water, an activist, poet, epidemiologist an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribe, born and raised in Rapid City, S.D. Author of John Wayne Shot Me, Luke Warm Water, has performed across the United States, England and Germany, in 120 venues within the last 4 years. He was preceded by 2005 NORAZ Poets semi-finalist Rowie Shebala, of the Navajo Nation.
Team NORAZ now had a comfortable lead of 12 points. The finals bout was a "feature" round for the team. Christopher Lane performed "for Jessica…". Christopher Fox Graham brought out perhaps the most anticipated poem of the night, "The Peach is a Damn Sexy Fruit." Meghan Jones, made the night a hot one with the sensual, sexy "Honey." The line "caramelize me," melted the audience in their seats. To top out the night, Logan Philips performed "La Viejita de Sonora."

In the end:

Team NORAZ 339.4
Team Mesa Nationals 322.9
Team Prescott 320.9
Team Tucson 315.6

The night ended with a bronze pour at the Arcosanti Bronze Foundry where the Arconauts created the 40-pound bronze trophy, followed by a fire performance by Flam Chen, and a huge after-party that rolled until dawn.

Note that NORAZ Poets, not just Team NORAZ won the tournament. Of the 40 poets who competed, 13 of them were NORAZ Poets. We are a community of poets, not just a team, and not individuals. The victory and the trophy represents our strength as a community, unified in our diversity.

The 16th National Poetry Slam was held in Albuquerque, N.M.:

Logan Phillips, John Kofonow, Christopher Fox Graham, Meghan Jones, Christopher Lane and Oren, and Aaron Johnson at the 16th National Poetry Slam in Albuquerque, N.M.

We were joined by a cadre of Flagstaff poets, including Rowie Shebala. I was made the temporary legal guardian of my 16-year-old friend Sarrah Wile for the week because she wanted to go and her parents trusted me and the other poets. As I spent a good portion of the nights buzzed or drunk, she babysat me more than I did her. I wrote it was then and still is "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."

Chris Lane and Logan Phillips performing at the 2005 National Poetry Slam
We had a group poem that year too

Team NORAZ 2005. 22junio2005. Assembled by logan phillips. Version 5.

opening sales jargon, all poets overlapping
you want a candle that will burn for twelve fuckin years? We got that too
lane starts ebs tone

We got Abba Zabba, poets love that Abba Zabba
cfg joins tone

Wheel of Fortune is taped on sight in beautiful California,
where the women are cheap, the gas is expensive
but none of that matters
meghan joins tone

Beautiful uptown Sedona, Arizona
and more turquoise kokopellis than you could shake a camera at
Just don’t forget to pay the fees to see the forest
can’t see the forest for the fees
logan joins tone

It’s called Poetry Slam, now brought to you by
American Spirit tobacco, reminding you that Indians smoked too
Poetry Slam, institutionalized revolution
aaron joins tone

five count, then tone quits abruptly
poets snap to attention

We inturrupt this slam to bring you a test of the Emergency Broadcast System

The poets of your area
 In voluntary cooperation with authorities 
Have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency.

CFG & Aaron:
Remember, this is only a test

But this is an emergency

The poets of this room are not acting in concert with authorities.

CFG & Meghan start tone again

The Emergency Broadcast System tone
echoes like a 

Aaron & Logan:
glass blast

tone abruptly ends on ‘blast’

and wedding rings clashing.
My father, pierced with pieces of beer bottle

Meghan begins singing (from tone)
A pin cushion in the middle of the floor:
A casualty of domestic violence,
Reflected in the wide eyes of my sister.
We ignore violence unless it is in our own home.
Dialing 911 won't erase these memories.

Aaron & Lane:
to officers, neighbors, and siblings
cling to these precious angels.

Lane & Aaron picks up tone from Meghan singing
Meghan stops singing

CFG echoes numbers while Meghan is speaking

Every 9 seconds, a woman is battered.
95% of domestic violence victims are women.
30% of adolescent relationships are abusive.
Half of all rape victims are between 14 and 17

Aaron joins tone

nine one one
nine one one (repeats)

Aaron & Lane  fade out tone as CFG speaks

we replaced names with numbers
prefixed people with dollar signs
grew entrepreneurial enterprises
into economic empires
now most of us
have never shaken hands with those we work for

CFG & Meghan:
our success is killing us

still starving, it burst past borders
so no nation is safe from it now

CFG & Meghan:
this is how cancer kills

This is the emergency: we cut arts funding in schools
and more children cut themselves down in schools
This lack of urgency is the emergency, 

Logan & Meghan:
my mother leaving third grade after teaching for 18 years

to teach kindergarten 

Logan & Lane:
where there are no standardized tests

Logan & Aaron:
this poem is not a standardized test

Logan & Meghan:
this poem is not a third grader taking a test

this is a test of the emergency broadcast system.

this is a repeat transmission. echoes of poets past.
finding a wittier way to say, 

Lane & Aaron:
"america, go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.", 


and again 

and again.
you media implanted switches. party people twitchin' 

Lane & Logan:
on the next 'right thing to do' just broad-branded voodoo.

poets, our podcasts need refreshin'. turn them into dust, 
somethin' i can touch, compost and bury. 

Lane, Meghan, CFG:
results will vary 

'cause a poet's death is in their words 

Lane & CFG:
10,000 more poets

to retransmit an emergency 
that keeps emerging as if a new word could save us...again 

and again 

and again...

All, cascading:
Poets have answers for everything

melt down, all poets overlapping

who's that on the radio? is the a/c on? turn it down. i can't hear, 'drop it like it's hhhoooottt, drop it like it's hhhooott'. 

yeah i'll hold on. i can't hear you! poets are too fucking loud. is he speaking, i can't hear you. poets are too fuckin' soft. 

i'll have a #6, medium size with season fries and a large dr. pepper. mayo on you hear me...mayo muthafucka! 

yeah i said he said she said one minute 'til eBay auction closed! She said ‘I see you eyeing the grocery girls’ 

I mean what the fuck, America, when can I go to the grocery store and buy what I need with my good looks?

overlapping stops

This poem is going to shit

Poets sayin the same ol crap

Naw man, This poem is

a test of the emergency broadcast system

Cardboard sapping the moisture from my palms.
The society has created a caste system.
Classes of the rich and barely getting by.

Meghan & Aaron:

Meghan & Logan:
and agnostic.

Meghan & CFG:

Meghan & Lane:

Meghan & Aaron:

You're looking for an emergency?
How about the lack of common decency?
It IS a civil emergency that we can't be civil to one another.
When's the last time you fed someone else
when you could hardly eat yourself?

underneath cotton and etiquette
behind cash registers and caution tape
we are hunters with memories of the 

CFG, Meghan, Logan:

now in the 

CFG & Lane:
United States of Arithmetic

how many friends would you die for?
All: I bet it's less than 

CFG & Meghan:

Naw, the emergency is
Domestic abuse 

Naw, the emergency is
cutting funding in schools

Naw, the emergency is
turning people into numbers

Naw, the emergency is
lack of decency

I’ve heard this all before

Aaron starts tone

This is the emergency

Logan joins tone

everyone just trying to fix problems from behind a microphone

CFG & Meghan  join tone

meanwhile, outside this room
beyond these walls it’s all really happening

tone ends

The emergency is us in here while this poem is out there.
But don’t worry because this poem

All cascade ‘this poem’

Lane & Logan:
This poem is just a test

We now return you to your regularly scheduled slam

The end of NORAZ Poets Slam Team

Lane "retired" from slam in 2006 and didn't compete for the team. The team was a mess with a clash of egos, two members quit and Lane suspended the slam team and kicked me out of NORAZ. 

It was ugly, it was petty, there were five or seven of us ultimately who tore the team apart for stupid selfish reasons in a game of brinksmanship that ultimately meant nothing. I missed out on two National Poetry Slams in Austin, Texas. I can't get those experiences back. But I was 16 years younger and more foolish.

Some day, I'll apologize to Meghan Jones for what it's worth. Not for what was said or what we did to each other, which I'm certain we both feel was justified at the time, but for the damage we caused each other and our scene afterward.

We should have been better. I should have at least.

Rather than rehash that, or trying and spin it, I don't want to pretend I did write these things 10 years ago. I'll just quote raw from my blog: 

Thus began the Sedona Poetry Civil War, as one of our mutual friends called it in 2010. For the first year, I was "banned" from competing in NORAZ slams, but still went to a few in Flagstaff while avoiding those in my own town. I still co-ran a relatively popular open mic with Greg Nix at the Szechuan Martini Bar.

Greg Nix was the voice of reason for both of us, writing:

i have been bothered for months about what has been happening b/w two very good friends of mine.  attached is a poem i think you should read, and below is a rant as well.  i know of no other way to communicate my concern about this bullshit between the two of you than what follows.  -greg
fucks fucking sake.  that's what i say to both of you.  i love both of you.  i wouldn't be a friend to either one of you if i didn't make an attempt at helping two friends with heads up their asses make amends.
lane, its your organization.  i absolutely respect that.  i always will.  i don't put an organization down as one of my primary beneficiares out of a sense of, well, lemme think, hubris?  i think what you do to promote this art form as a participatory community function is amazing.  fox, you're a mother fucking poet.  end of discussion.  i've always been taken aback by your words and your talent and i always will.  you hold a position in this community that is respected and admired - else, you wouldn't be the person that you are.  end of discussion.
maybe to set it straight as to where "greg's coming from" - is this:  i work in a field that brings me in to intimate encounters with the shit (on the walls, literally) and the misery and the disgust of human life that the two of you dance around.  yup - that is exactly what i am saying.  dance around.  people are inherently flawed.  people fuck up and make mistakes.  the mistakes that the two of you make are nothing to the fuck ups and idiocy that i get to spend my working day dealing with.  i deal with people who fuck up so bad that they might end up killing a child.  either of you care to "whip it out" now? 
lane - you have created an organization that is bigger than yourself and you are continuing to learn how to manage that.  fox - you can be an arrogant, shit headed asshole.  actually - both of you are capable of this.  so am i - so is everyone else on this fucking planet.  lane has an organization he has created that, well, for better lack of terminology - feeds his kid.  fox - you're too fucking full of pride to sit down and admit that you behaved in a manner that was immature and arrogant.  both of you - take a bite of humble pie.  trust me - it doesn't taste all that great, but it is something we all have to do from time to time.  i have to do it quite often, so fuck both of you if you think are "too good to do so".  you're not. 
as for why i decided to write both of you this email - all i can say is that you are both my friends.  two of the best friends i have made in this world.  on par with the two friends i have from childhood.  i can't stand "watching from the sidelines" as you both endeavour to fuck it all up.  i can't stand to sit around and listen to two people "posturing" over fucking bullshit.  life is fucking short.  you both are two great individuals and it pisses me off when i see two people who are such decent, good, moral individuals fuck things up because of the simple matter of pride.
lane - you don't have a right to tell fox what to do. 
fox - you don't have the right to be an asshole to everyone. 
both of you are free to be pissed off and angry at me.  i put up with it for a living  - trust me, it doesn't bother me.  seeing the state of affairs that you two are in, does bother me.  please, sit down, and quit being angry and pissed of and hurt at each other.  be friends and be adults. 
i love both of you,

On March 12, 2007, [Lane] called for a truce and we met in a neutral location at a restaurant [Reds at the Sedona Rouge] to discuss the terms. 

"monday was the meeting between myself and christopher fox graham. and i have to say that it went very well. 

as some of you may know, i attended a seminar over a month ago where i experienced the greatest love i have ever known. for sometime now i have needed to move to a greater level in my spirituality and this seminar did it. there i discovered that before any real healing takes place i had to get rid of the "stuff" that i owned, which really owned me. i mad a decision to come from a loving place in all of my interactions with people as much as possible, of course, i am only human.

with that, i also decided to come from a loving place in our meeting on monday. there i saw how sincere mr. graham is. i do believe now that mr. graham has good intentions in mind. there was much emotion exchanged. we expressed our feelings and came up with a way where mr. graham can be a part of NORAZ once again. attached you will find the new NORAZ Community Code of Conduct. we will have this for ALL of the poets that wish to perform in slam. please review. the Code of Conduct will be voted on as soon as we assemble our Slam Sub-Committee next week. if any of you have any concerns about the Code of Conduct please feel free to contact me or aaron johnson.

i came away from the meeting happy there was resolution. i feel confident in NORAZ's intention to make this community a more vibrant and expressive. i feel confident we as advisory board members will communicate to one another if any issues come up with anyone representing NORAZ Poets. but as all of us already know, professionalism is key.

again please review the Code of Conduct. if you have any questions about it please ask.

graham has assured me that if any issues come up for him in the future he will contact me directly. and i assured him i would do the same for him.

Again, from my blog in 2012: 
We negotiated a code of conduct for NORAZ, the terms of which he changed when he sent a final draft on March 27, 2007, adding in a whole series of rules about drug and alcohol use, which in a poetry scene or any civil setting were superfluous and unnecessary for a simple nonprofit. 
After all, I held a poetry open mic at a Sedona bar and banning minors from entering was the job of the bar and the bouncers, not Nix and myself.
At the same time, Nix and I were hosting the Sedona Poetry Open Mic, an event which Lane wanted to put the NORAZ Poets logo, but which Nix and I declined as long as the alcohol portion of the code of conduct was still in question. In any case the dialogue fell apart by mid-April.

Nix and I called our Sedona poetry open mic the Sedona 510 Poetry Slam because, well, Lane was 5'9" and we thought it was funny to say you had to be 5'10" to read.
In the meantime, Lane apparently rethought trying to control all poetry slam events in Sedona. In April 2007, he wrote this:

This was our last email about the NORAZ Code of Conduct
We had some rough back-and-forths in the late spring and summer of 2007 regarding some Flagstaff slams. He was flippant, I was unrelenting, we were both unkind. There's no point rehashing those as they were just rhetorical nastiness. I regret that period as it set the stage for why we never reconciled.

In November 2007, Lane made his departure from slam official:

first i want to thank everyone who has been part of my spiritual growth since i moved to sedona in august of 2000. since then i have achieved great things and it's been with the help of all of you. all of you showing up evening after blessed evening for slam poetry to experience the excitement, the drama, the catharsis. it was fun wasn't it?
so to most of you that truly know me will not be surprised to learn that i am letting the slam go at the canyon moon theatre. mary and i sat down and after her kind of listening only a dear friend could give decided to let our good memories of the slam ring in our minds. so how did this happen? how did christopher come to this conclusion?
after seeing the growth my wife experienced in her first year at the university of santa monica , i decided, "i didn't want to be left behind." so i too sought the place of her growth.
now we've traded positions. she's watching oren and i'm attending my first year of a two year masters program in spiritual psychology.
my priorities are spiritual growth, serving my family, and serving my community of friends.
i also came to the conclusion that "you can't transmit something that you haven't got." - wise words i've heard for years but never quite grasped. i feel one must focus in on the things that fill one's heart. so i choose the children and their ways of teaching me. and i choose the elders for the ways they teach me. everything in between is life.
and personally, the messages i hear in slam resonate a different frequency in me. i'm choosing to listen differently. my personal work and projects are important and quite honestly, i have neglected them for a long time. so i choose to have a new album coming out in the beginning of 2008 consisting of my poetry and music written and performed by my nephew, jonathan sherrill. and a couple zeppelin covers. ;)
now after seven years of living in sedona, i am changing again. and i love how i can tell all of you this because i hold each of you with great joy and "in the knowing."
although some of you may be bummed that the slam will not be at the canyon moon theatre anymore, i am proud to announce a new event combining poetry and music making a new class of spoken word come alive. on friday, january 25th Blues Dawgs (myself and joe neri and his band, blues dawgs) david mills and gary every (Mighty Minstrels) will give sedona something they've never experienced. i hope all of you will give it some serious thought and join us that evening. we promise to make it fun!!
so there you have it friends. i felt all of you should be informed. if you still crave the poetry slam, check out the one aaron johnson, our assistant director, hosts every wednesday evening at the applesauce tea house in flagstaff (213 So. San Francisco st.) he has a regional or national touring slam poet every week that will rock your world! plus i'm sure someone will start up a slam again in sedona sooner or later.
again, thank you. i hold all of you dear to my heart and hope to see or hear from you soon. the following is few other places you can catch what i'm up to, but if we run into each other around town, that's even better:

In May 2008, Rochelle Brener died. She owned a small business, Write Here, in the Bashas' plaza. It as an office space for writing workshops and some light retail. NORAZ Poets had a desk and computer in the back. I was one of the poets who read at her funeral; Lane did not. I had also left the Sedona Red Rock News to take a job at the Managing Editor of Kudos. Afterwards, he wrote:

i just wanted to to acknowledge you on your new position!! congratulations!! i heard your reading at rochelle's memorial was a smash! great work!

I never responded. I should have.

Again, from my blog in 2012: 

In 2007-2008, Aaron Johnson stepped down as FlagSlam Slam Master. NORAZ. The new FlagSlam had little to do with NORAZ afterward, and in late 2008, the FlagSlam poets asked me to feature. That marked the end of Lane's involvement with the adult slam as he turned to Brave New Voices, the youth slam teams, and one for which there was more grant money to be had to run the nonprofit. I made a point to fill the void for all ages slams in the Verde Valley, first hosting a team slam at the Old Town Center for the Arts in Cottonwood, then later starting the Sedona Poetry Slam in 2009.

I went to Canyon Moon Theatre and told the director, Mary Guaraldi, that I had been approached by Sedona Studio Live to start a poetry slam. With 10,000 people, Sedona can't handle more than one slam, so I gave Canyon Moon the right of first refusal. To her credit, Guaraldi said she was waiting for Lane to restart the slam, which he had ended in 2006 so she didn't want to commit. He was done hosting competitive poetry slams.

I started the Sedona Poetry Slam in 2009 and ran it at Sedona Studio Live until it closed in June 2013. Then I took the slam to the Sedona International Film Festival's Mary D. Fisher Theater, where we've been since then.

Again, from my blog in 2012: 

By 2009, the civil war had become a cold one; he didn't attend or support any of my events and I didn't attend or support any of his; the exception being one Sedona Poetry Slam featuring a former 2001 teammate, Josh Fleming, which he attended but did not speak to me.
I stylized the Sedona Poetry Slam to be what NORAZ Poets had began as, and opposite of what it evolved into. I wanted Sedona Poetry Slam to be open to all without regard to poets' personal lives, democratic, supportive both artistically and financially, and I set the ground rule that under no circumstances would I make any profit from poetry slams. All money from the slam returns to the poets via prize money, feature poets' pay, or team registration. In the intervening years, I heard stories from other poets and arts organizers about questionable financial and personal behavior; money or support for programs promised, then retracted, then promised again, then retracted or renegotiated, and various poets in Northern Arizona had falling outs over projects he supported then backed off from.
Lane also began to refer to himself as Ya'ir, a Hebrew word meaning "he who enlightens," and putting "Christopher" into quotes. Lane was raised Catholic, but had become a Buddhist by the time I met him in Sedona. He converted to Judaism before marrying his wife, but the name change was a bit much. I mean, we used to make fun of poets with stage names, going so far as suggesting he starting slamming under the stage name "Moniker" and I start slamming as "Pre-10-Shus" (pretentious). Toward the end, I suppose someone in the scene should have seen the decline, but his charisma just made him seem like he was getting more and more eccentric.

At some point in this process, when he was working with kids and the Alzheimer's poetry project, Lane decided to nix the "NORAZ Poets" name change the nonprofit to LARC or Literacy Arts for Rural Communities.

Lane and LARC did some good work with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, founded by Gary "Mex" Glazner, the official Minister of Fun for Poetry Slam Inc. who also created the first National Poetry Slam in 1990. 
The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project wrote a memorial for Lane on its website: We were deeply saddened to learn of Christopher's death in August of 2012. In the early stages of the APP Lane was the first person Glazner asked to help expand the APP to other states. He was an amazing advocate for poetry. On working with elders living with dementia Lane said, "I just see them as my Grand Ma and Grand Pa and hug them just like I would my own loved ones." He will be truly missed.
Lane was the director and founder of the Arizona chapter of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project, sponsored by Northern Arizona Poets, (NORAZ Poets) began in 2003, under Lane's direction and became an official 501(c)(3) organization in 2005.
Among Lane's awards include: the 2010 Bill Desmond Writing Award; Arizona Commission on the Arts, the 2009, Mayor's Arts Award; City of Sedona Individual Category, the 2009: Artist Project Grant; City of Sedona Arts and Culture Commission, the 2008, Gardens for Humanity; Visionary Grant and a 2006, Emerging Artist Grant; City of Sedona Arts and Culture Commission. He has been a featured reader at Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference at Arizona State University and the Tucson Poetry Festival. Lane was the author of "who is your god now?" published by Woodley & Watts. 

Lane had been in AA and NA since moving to Sedona. Without going too much into detail because I had to piece this together from about a dozen folks in the year after his death and someone of the specifics are unverifiable, what I know is at some point after waiting tables, he got a job as a sommelier at a Sedona resort. In the months (maybe longer, I have no idea) he began drinking a bit with a coworker of his I knew and told mutual friends he felt like he could handle his alcohol -- none of this I knew until after he died.
While at the newspaper, I found his name in a traffic stop for a potential DUI, which struck me as very odd considering I only knew him to be clean and sober, but trusting how reckless and resilient we artists are, just assumed he had briefly fallen off the wagon, was shocked back to sobriety by the traffic stop, and would the be the substance-free straight-edge poet we all knew. I heard he then left the sommelier job and began working at a local health food grocery store. A few times in that last year I would see him walking along State Route 89A as he lived right across the road. At some point nearing his 40th birthday, he went back to visit friends in Dallas. I don't know for certain if that's where he got the stuff he got or if it was local, but again, from my blog in 2012: 
On Aug. 19, 2012, at 7:05 a.m., Lane was pronounced dead at his home from benzodiazepine and narcotic intoxication, according to the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office. I received word from a mutual friend later that morning and got a copy of the autopsy in September. Reading an autopsy is a odd experience -- an antiseptic description of a person's body you once used to share conversation and meals.
I always expected that at some point, Lane would have apologized and our years of enmity would have come to an abrupt end. I'm not vindictive without cause and I'm quick to forgive when I believe in the sincerity of an apology. With his accidental overdose, we never had the luxury of repairing our friendship, but deep down I always thought it was inevitable.
The civil war -- a melodramatic title but one I like, being a poet -- did make me into a better organizer and public figure simply because I tried to be his opposite. In the end, knowing him longer than nearly anyone outside of his family, and seeing both his light side and dark side, I feel like I knew him better than most and I hope in the end, he respected me as only a rival could. Coming to terms with his death was difficult because few people understood what having a sincere arch-rival or arch-nemesis is like. One mutual friend asked if I felt like Superman, Batman, or Obi-wan Kenobi hearing Lex Luthor, the Joker or Anakin Skywalker had died, but another [Bernard "The Klute" Schober (Feb. 8, 1973-July 18, 2022)] said it was more like Iron Man and Captain America: we were rivals and didn't get along, but in the end, we were on the same side, promoting poetry and inspiring other poets to take the stage.

Lane's funeral Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012. Due to our history and unreconciled animosity, I could not and would not go. He was cremated and has no burial site to pay my respects. I never got that closure, which is why his absence still haunts me.

The one upside is that one of his students was Claire Pearson. A year after Lane's death, a mutual friend suggested we meet. We bonded over our shared loss as I helped her join the Flagstaff Poetry Slam scene. 

In the end, we poets are our words. We leave a children behind, but of ourselves, just our words. Here are some of Lane's:

Lizard Brain
By Christopher Lane
the smell of your absence makes a recoil.
deep retreat past a broken darkness.
it is the waiting for annihilation from the beyond i had forgotten.
thousands of cars have past my window tonight. each without your headlights and all of them continue in your direction,
we were not going to talk about this were we?
you, a onesided silence. me, punching at my words i regret already.
either way, this moon less night will cut jagged pieces of us echoing into quiet places where the sky is full.
this poem is hard.
as granite, as my proud legacy of which i have been dethroned.
as sharp as the reasons i write.
as tragic as the sound of passing vehicles carrying the laughter of others who have come to terms and extinguish their rage, tumbling

This post first appeared on Fox The Poet, please read the originial post: here

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Remembering Christopher Lane 10 years after his death


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