Up from Ignut
Pull Yo Pants Up
Fa da Black President
The Soulful Musings of a North American African Thinker
Black Bird Press, Berkeley
Marvin X: " Poet, Playwright & The Undisputed King of Black Consciousness"
Written by RBGStreetScholar on Apr-26-07 8:34pm
Marvin X in Harlem, 1968
Marvin X—born Marvin Ellis Jackmon on May 29, 1944 in Fowler, California—attended Fresno at Edison High, Oakland City College (now Merritt College) receiving an associate degree in 1964. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, the founders of the Black Panther Party, were fellow students at Oakland City College. Marvin also received a BA and MA in English at San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University).
Marvin X has taught at such colleges and universities as Fresno State University, San Francisco State University, University of California -- Berkeley and San Diego, University of Nevada, Reno, Mills College, Laney and Merritt Colleges in Oakland.
As part of Black Arts Movement (BAM), Marvin, along with playwright Ed Bullins in 1967, established The Black House and Black Arts / West, a theatre in San Francisco's Fillmore district.
Marvin X's first play is titled Flowers for the Trashman (also produced with an alternate title, Taking Care of Business. The play's protagonist, Joe Simmons, an African American college student, finds himself in jail with Wes, whom the playwright describes as "his hoodlum friend."
Marvin X spoke from a Muslim perspective on race relations in America in his play The Black Bird (Al Tair Aswad
Marvin X's most recent production, One Day in the Life, performed by his Recovery Theatre, provides a comprehensive view into his own life as a black man using crack cocaine as well as the devastating sphere of hurt, death, and destruction that came to many loved ones in his life.
More On Marvin X:
Marvin X is the USA’s Rumi…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….
—Bob Holman, Bowery Poetry Club, New York City
Still the undisputed king of black consciousness!
—Dr. Nathan Hare, Black Think Tank
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. (Note: The University of California , Berkeley , Bancroft Library, recently acquired the archives of Marvin X.)
—Dr. Mohja Kahf, Dept. of English & Middle East & Islamic Studies,University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
In terms of modernist and innovative, he’s centuries ahead of anybody I know.
—Dennis Leroy Moore, Brecht Forum, New York
Marvelous Marvin X!
—Dr. Cornel West, Princeton University
Courageous and outrageous! He walked through the muck and mire of hell and came out clean as white fish and black as coal.
—James W. Sweeney, Oakland CA
His writing is orgasmic!
—Fahizah Alim, Sacramento Bee
Jeremiah, I presume.
—Rudolph Lewis, www.nathanielturner.com
He’s Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland. His play One Day In the Life is the most powerful drama I’ve seen.
One of the founders and innovators of the revolutionary school of African writing.
He laid the foundation and gave us the language to express Black male urban experiences in a lyrical way.
—James G. Spady, Philadelphia New Observer
An outspoken critic of American economic, social and cultural discrimination of African Americans at home and Third World peoples abroad.
—Dr. Julius E. Thompson, African American Review
Although Marvin X emerged from an extremely politicized era and enthusiastically confronted the issues of the day, his work is basically personal and religious and remains most effective on that level. It should remain relevant long after issues are resolved, if ever, and long after slogans and polemics are forgotten.
—Lorenzo Thomas, Dept. of English, University of Houston, Texas
Source: ChickenBones: A Journal
posted 29 October 2006
Marvin X Table @ ChickenBones
Marvin X is available for lecture/readings. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org , or 1222 Dwight Way, Berkeley CA 94702.
Flowers for the Trashman, A One-Act Play
Author: Marvin X
Author's first produced (Drama Department, San Francisco State University, 1965) and published play. Included in the Black Fire anthology, 1968. An example of Black Arts Movement work that seeks to render issues of immediate importance to the Black Community. It is a performative work that has a sharp relevance to the relationships that shape and plague manhood in North American African communities today. As in all good art the theme, while applied specifically, has universal implications that manage to break even the imposed strictures of gender within the piece to speak elegantly about separation within intimates spaces.
Director: Ayodele " WordSlanger" Nzinga, MFA
Artistic Director of the Sister Thea Bowman Theater, The Lower Bottom Playaz, Associate Director Recovery Theater and student of Marvin X.
Marvin X wrote Flower's for the Trashman in the turbulent 1960's. It is his first produced and published play. When asked permission to stage the piece he asked, "Why?" Why is a piece of work over 40 years old relevant at this time.
The answer lies in part in the enigmatic timelessness of the piece. Something becomes a classic because of its ability to endure by translating itself across time. This is a trait inherent in fine art. It is so because the best art seats itself in the basic foundation of the human story. Significant art seeks to know something essential to human nature, it worries itself and us with the making of the human condition. This art can be cathartic, it can disturb, remind or simply call into view from the shadows of unconsciousness; elephants on universal tables.
Created in the historical context of the Black Arts Movement, (BAM), Flowers for the Trashman, is an example of work consciously intended to be preformative, created for and about subjects/issues paramount to the formation/sustaining of independent black communities concerned with self articulation/reflection that intends to provoke action. I submit Marvin X's work also passes the litmus for fine art. In it's reflection of intimate estrangement it probes familial relations on the very personal and universal /archetypal level. The work is aligned with an issue of humanness that will be dated only by a shift in the human condition itself. Thus the work satisfies the specific requirements of its lens: black male relationships, while working beyond this specificity/boundary as well.
The reflection of Blacks in America mirrors the societal dilemmas of American society writ large. While essentially an introspection of father/son communication, Flowers for the Trashman is also a vehicle to examine intimacy, isolation in company, and boundaries on a much larger level. The very specific gender of the piece is also fluid; it is the situation itself that is compelling and larger than the beautifully simple text.
The main character asks, "How can we be so far apart...? So far apart, yet so close---so close together?" This is the interrogation the work attempts. It is voiced in the final quarter of the piece and sums its query emphatically. This question should be of interest to us as a nation as we cry for change. If we knew the answer perhaps the illusive unity we seek could manifest. If we asked this in our houses, our churches, our academic spaces, halls of government, in our communities, out on the turfs of the world where we all breathe the same air; what could we learn about appreciation of difference, each other and the path to unity?
We are in the information age. We hyper communicate in multi modes yet in the midst of this explosion of ways in which to communicate; the art of intimate human exchange goes unattended. We get our news from the corporate media and other secondary sources, we miss the primacy of getting our news from each other. We travel together though the event of our lives with earphones, cell phones, and laptops. We socially network with people we will never meet and who may not be the people they claim to be. Yet our co-workers, neighbors, partners, children, parents go unknown in large and significant ways. The way we are is easy to see, the how we got there, often dies with us. The average child can tell you more about his favorite artist than he can his own family. The everyday adult knows how to talk at children but spends little time talking to them as equal humans with viable information about themselves and their environment to offer. We are alone, traveling together on a blue ball spinning in space, more connected than ever before, and yet we are alone, isolated in our individual stories of self, without an appreciation of how the individual stories inform each other we suffer in isolation.
There is space in Marvin's transparent working of the very personal for us to consciously consider the lack of intimate communication on a variety of levels. All these levels serve the function in BAM directives and serve as a space for introspection on unity and its possibility from the personal to the universal.
I am choosing to direct the piece out of my own passion for communication, my appreciation for the artistry of my mentor and appreciation of the classics. An active love of the classic demands the work be kept alive and allowed to do its work. By mounting classic art we enable its longevity by gifting it to new generations.
"If I don't know the folks on the page; I won’t direct the work."
Ayodele Nzinga , MA , MFA
Prescott Joseph Center For Community Enhancement
A tribute to Black History Month
A preview of the 2009 season at The Sister Thea Bowman Memorial Theater
FLOWERS FOR THE TRASHMAN
A one act play
Directed by WordSlanger
An excerpt from
MAMA AT TWILIGHT:
Love by Death
Written and Directed by
Ayodele “WordSlanger” Nzinga
February 22, 2009- Only
2Pm Matinee: $10:00 at the door
5Pm Show: $10:00 at the door
$5.00 in Advance
Author discussion follows each production.
920 Peralta St. Oakland CA
A We Inhale Production