Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Is Marvin X America's Plato, Rumi, Mark Twain, Malcolm X?
Marvin X has been known by many names throughout his writing and social activist career of five decades. Coming across the border from Mexico while underground and sought by the FBI for refusing to serve in Vietnam, he was Elijah Muhammad, using the birth certificate of Elijah Muhammad’s grandson of the same name, who he had met while exiled in Mexico City. His first Arabic teacher, Ali Sharif Bey, named him Nazzam which means organizer or systematizer . Ali said a poet creates a system of mythology with his work.
After observing Marvin X on the street, Ishmael Reed said, “If you want to learn about motivation and inspiration, don’t spend all that money going to workshops and seminars, just go stand at 14th and Broadway, downtown Oakland and watch Marvin X at work. He’s Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland.”
One of his students, Ptah Allah El, says “The works of Plato Negro prove to be a major contribution to the field of African philosophy. These works provide a model for a standard approach toward reflective thinking and critical analysis for African people, still trying to define their own philosophical worldview…..”
As per Rumi, Bob Holman of the Bowery Poetry Club, NYC, commented, “Marvin X is the USA’s Rumi…. X’s poems vibrate, whip, love in the most meta—and physical ways imaginable and un-. He’s got the humor of Pietri, the politics of Baraka, and the spiritual Muslim grounding that is totally new in English—the ecstasy of Hafiz, the wisdom of Saadi. It’s not unusual for him to have a sequence of shortish lines followed by a culminating line that stretches a quarter page—it is the dance of the dervishes, the rhythms of a Qasida.
“He is a Master Teacher in many fields of thought—religion and psychology, sociology and anthropology, history and politics, literature and the humanities. He is a needed counselor, for he knows himself on the deepest of personal levels and he reveals that self to us, that w might be his beneficiaries…. One of America’s great story tellers. I’d put him ahead of Mark Twain.”—Rudolph Lewis
He’s the new Malcolm X! Nobody’s going to talk about his book (s) out loud, but they’ll hush hush about them. He’s very straight and plain….—Jerri Lange, author Jerri, A Black Woman’s Life in the Media
Declaring Muslim American literature as a field of study is valuable because by re-contextualizing it will add another layer of attention to Marvin X’s incredibly rich body of work. Muslim American literature begins with Marvin X. –Dr. Mohja Kahf
In terms of modernist and innovative, he’s centuries ahead of anybody I know.—Dennis Leroy Moore, Brecht Forum, New York