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Marvin X and Bay Area Black Authors Meet


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Marvin X and Bay Area Black Authors Meet

Marvin X and Bay Area Black Authors Poetry Festival and Book Fair

Marvin X
autographs book. He wrote eight last year. photo by Gene Hazzard

Marvin X is a man of many names and talents. He's known variously as Marvin Ellis Jackmon, Marvin X, El Muhajir, Jeremiah, Rumi, Plato Negro, the Sledgehammer, Human Earthquake,and Senior Citizen General. His talents include poet, playwright, essayist, publisher, editor, director, producer, promoter, professor, community organizer. Last year he published eight books, making him one of the most prolific authors in the world. The Last Poets, his friends from the Black Arts Movement of the 60s, say, "Marvin X writes a book a month." He wrote his memoir of Eldridge Cleaver in three weeks, daily sharing each chapter with his online readers.

When he's not writing, he dons the persona of Plato Negro, teaching at his Academy of da Corner, 14th and Broadway. "If you want to learn about motivation and inspiration, don't spend all that money on workshops and seminars, just go stand at 14th and Broadway and watch Marvin X at work. He's Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland, " says fellow Oakland writer Ishmael Reed.
"Marvin's play One Day in the Life (about his addiction and recovery) is the most powerful drama I've seen." His Reader's Theatre performed selections from his book The Wisdom of Plato Negro at the San Francisco Theatre Festival. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Marvin performed at Yoshi's San Francisco with fellow poet Amiri Baraka and Roscoe Mitchell of the Chicago Arts Ensemble.

On Saturday, February 19, Noon til 6pm, the Senior Citizen General brings his troop of Bay Area Black Authors, poets, actors and readers to the Joyce Gordon Gallery for a poetry festival and book fair. He recently edited the poetry issue of the Journal of Pan African Studies, an online journal featuring writing from throughout the Pan African world or Diaspora.

The poetry issue is massive, 475 pages of poetry from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, South Korea, New Zealand and throughout the United States. The Bay Area poets in the issue will read at the Poetry Festival/Book Fair, including California poet laureate emeritus Al Young, San Francisco poet laureate emeritus devorah major, Fritz Pointer (brother of the Pointer Sisters and professor emeritus of English at Constra Costa College), Phavia Kujichugulia,
multi-talented musician, poet, historian, among others.

Al Young, California poet laureate emeritus

The Poetry Festival is in honor of Digane Jose Goncalves, editor and publisher of the 60s Bible of Poetry, the Journal of Black Poetry. The Journal of Black Poetry published more poets than any literary magazine in American literature, including the work of Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Askia Toure, Amiri Baraka, Last Poets, Haki Madhubuti, Al Young, and Marvin X.

devorah major, San Francisco
poet laureate emeritus,

Phavia Kujichagulia,

poet/historian, griot

Jerri Lange, author, Jerri, A Black Woman's Life in the Media

Fritz Pointer, poet, author, professor of English emeritus, Contra Costa College

The Book Fair is in honor of slain Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey, a dear friend and colleague of Marvin X. He wants the book fair to be a time of healing for this community. The Post Newspaper Group is co-sponsoring the book fair and will purchase books from 15 selected authors for donation to juvenile hall, the county jail and prisons. We urge the community to support local authors and the incarcerated. Bay Area Black Authors and the Post Newspaper Group are making this an on-going project. Authors include Jerri Lange, author of Jerri, A Black Woman's Life in the Media. Her colleague and now author, Belva Davis is invited.

The event is free but bring some cash to purchase a book basket for the imprisoned. Paul Cobb says, "Crack a book before you are booked for Crack!" This Black History month we recall several men who read books in prison and changed their lives: Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver, George Jackson and Tookie Williams.

Marvin X says, "If books can change lives, wouldn't it be cheaper to educate the 2.4 million people in American jails, prisons and juvenile halls, but the slave system needs bodies, they are cannon fodder for the capitalist economy. This book fair will take some of the burden off mothers who come by Academy of da Corner to buy books for imprisoned sons and daughters. Paul Cobb must be congratulated for helping liberate the captives."

Marvin X and former student
Fahizah Alim, Sacramento Bee
writer emeritus. She says,
"His writing is orgasmic!He is the
voice of the black man whose cry
has been muffled by the clank of
prison bars, the explosion of gunfire,
and the loud silence of apathy and

The Joyce Gordon Gallery is located at 406 14th Street @ Franklin, downtown Oakland. Call 510-837-5107 for information. Email:

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