Sunday, January 25, 2009

Marvin X:Black History Archives

Poetry Picks: The Best of 2005
Marvin X, Eliot Weinberger, Oscar Brown, Jr., Naropa Archives
By Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

Where I’d like to start this 2005 Poetry Roundup is Iraq, as in, how did we get there and how do we get back? The consciousness-altering book of poems that tells the tale, in no uncertain terms and yet always via poetry, is the astonishing Land of My Daughters: Poems 1995-2005 (Black Bird Press) by Marvin X. Marvin X is the USA’s Rumi, and his nation is not “where our fathers died” but where our daughters live. The death of patriarchal war culture is his everyday reality.

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.

“I am the black bird in love

I fly with love

I swoop into the ocean and pluck fish in the name of love

oceans flow with love

let the ocean wash me with love

even the cold ocean is love the morning swim is love

the ocean chills me with love

from the deep come fish full of love” (from the opening poem, “In the Name of Love”)

“How to Love A Thinking Woman”:

“Be revolutionary, radical, bodacious
Stay beyond the common
Have some class about yaself

Say things she’s never heard before
Ihdina sirata al mustaquim
(guide us on the straight path)
Make her laugh til she comes in panties
serious jokes to get her mind off the world.”

There are anthems (“When I’ll Wave the Flag/Cuando Voy a Flamear la Bandera”), rants (“JESUS AND LIQUOR STORES”), love poems (“Thursday”) and poems totally uncategorizable (“Dreamtime”). Read this one cover to cover when you’ve got the time to “Marry a Tree.”

Marvin X is available for readings/performance during Black History Month. Call 510-355-6339. Visit his

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