With rhyme and reason

All-AZ Poetry Slam champion describes ‘constant balancing act’ of creativity

Frankie Marchi of Maricopa is 2023 All-Arizona Poetry Slam champion. [submitted]

Talent, skill, poise in front of audiences at the professional level: These characterize prize-winning artists of every type. Maricopa’s creative community boasts such gifted residents.

Chantelle Fulce

Among them is slam poet extraordinaire Frankie Marchi. The top-prize winner in the 2022 All-Maricopa Slam Poetry competition last fall, Marchi added to his accolades as winner of Maricopa Arts Council’s 2023 All-AZ Poetry Slam Championship on March 11.

Marchi’s poetry is a colorful display of expression, emotion and realism. He has performed across multiple platforms. During a recent interview, he shed light on his creative process.

Q. Would you tell us about yourself?
A. I graduated from ASU with a degree in communications. I’ve done performance work in theater, speech and debate, and events around the country. I try to maintain a balance of poetry and performance in essentially every arena of my life. And, yes, I mean arena. It feels like in slam and life these days I am always fighting for what is right. I am fighting for my voice to be heard. I am fighting to keep poetry moving forward. It feels like I am setting up a lemonade stand in the eye of a hurricane, and I am waiting to see which one of us will blink first.

Q. What sparked your interest in slam poetry?
A. I started my love for poetry when I was 8. My garage had this hardcover copy of Shel Silverstein’s “A Light in the Attic,” and I would read that copy over and over again. Through the years, I’d read a collection of poetry here and there until one day — senior year of high school —I found myself at another school’s library killing time. I picked up a copy of SLAM, a poetry anthology. I opened to a poem called “The Quiet World” by Jeffrey McDaniel, about a silent dystopia, and I was stunned thinking, “Poetry can be this good?” And then I thought, “I want to do that.”

Q. Your poetry is direct and artistic, painting a visual perspective for listeners. What is your creative process?
A. I focus on resonance in my poetry. I find it strange to write just for myself and dangerous to write solely for others. So, my process is a constant balancing act of blending those ideals. My inspiration is often larger than my aptitude. I’m constantly shelving ideas that need more time to work on and coming back to writings years later to add or eschew certain words and segments. I think the best visual of how my process works is a spinning-plates routine, but in my mind the plates don’t slow down, and I can always work harder to spin them a little faster.

Chantelle Fulce, a visual artist and owner of Chantelle Fulce Art, is co-director of the Maricopa Arts Council and a Maricopa resident since 2019.