Dramatic Reading by Marvin X

Dramatic Reading by Marvin X


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



 The boy rapped on the subject, “Why?” He asked several questions about life ending with why.

He reminded us of those child preachers who are totally poised and confident,

who speak with authority far beyond their years.



Books by Marvin X

Love and War: Poems  / In the Crazy House Called America / Woman: Man’s Best Friend Beyond Religion Toward Spirituality

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Boy Steals Show At Marvin X Concert

A Report on Black Repertory Theatre Reading


(On Sunday, August 27, 2006, Marvin X gave a dramatic reading from his forthcoming book, Beyond Religion, Toward Spirituality, accompanied by musicians and some of the most powerful Bay Area poets. The event happened at the Black Repertory Theatre in Berkeley. For excerpts from the unpublished work, please go to

Marvin X was concerned he would be upstaged by the Bay Area’s woman warrior poets, Opal Palmer Adisa, Tureeda and Ayodele Nzinga, and they were awesome. Opal Palmer’s reading accompanied by musicians Elliott Bey on synthesizer, Earl Davis on muted trumpet and Tacuma King on percussion was in the tradition of Kind of Blue.

Opal told the audience, “Isn’t it nice when the men lead you on,” after telling the brothers to play her something romantic that she could read behind. They accommodated her most gracefully.

Not all musicians know how to play behind the spoken word or vocalists for that matter. Too often the musicians are too loud to the point of drowning out the speaker or singer. The Chaka Khan band at the Berkeley Jazz Festival is an example. But the musicians Marvin X assembled knew exactly what Doctor X ordered, after all, Earl Davis has performed with X since the Black Arts West Theatre in San Francisco, 1967.

Tacuma King has done percussion work with the poet since he taught drama at Laney College, 1981, and Elliott Bey has played keyboards with him since the late 80s, providing the music for Marvin’s docudrama One Day In The Life. So these gentlemen knew what to do even though they had not performed together nor had they rehearsed.

Marvin read again from  Beyond Religion, Toward Spirituality, then  brought on Tureeda,  who rocked the small, intimate crowd with her Holy Ghost poems. A long time friend of Marvin’s seated in the audience whispered to the poet, “It’s really something to see how intelligent these women poets are!” Indeed they are. Marvin had quoted to the audience a line from poet Phavia Kujichagalia, “…If you think I’m just a physical thing, wait til you see the spiritual power I bring.”

Marvin read “What If ” and next up was Ayodele Nzinga, dressed in army gear with a voice so powerful it can awaken the dead, and she did, if there were any dead in the house, which is doubtful since her predecessors had worked the field.

Brother John Hughes read a great poem on spirituality, followed by musician Earl Davis who shared his poem on the Blues, or rather who owns the blues, white people or blacks.

Tacuma tried to accompany him on the harmonica but Earl wasn’t having it. He had the sound man play his own music that was, well, jazz. Earl’s original jazz was nice but Tacuma’s harmonica was perfect, but he faded into the background, especially when Earl seemed disturbed.

Poet Ptah Allah-El was to end the set, and although Ptah, author of the poetic Ghetto Tales, was absolutely great representing hip hop, his act did not end the show. As Ptah passed the mike to Marvin, a young boy came on stage and asked Marvin could he read a conscious rap. Marvin was taken aback by the boy who appeared to be between ten and  twelve  years old. But when this child took the mike, the audience was astounded, including the older musicians and poets. The boy rapped on the subject, “Why?” He asked several questions about life ending with why. He reminded us of those child preachers who are totally poised and confident, who speak with authority far beyond their years.

And so he ended the evening, stealing the show from his elders, male and female alike. We didn’t get his name, but think of Jesus teaching in the temple as a child. Perhaps it is best we don’t reveal his name. Peace. — Marvin X (28 August 2006)

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I have just been informed by poet Ptah Allah-El that the boy who stole the show at my concert last night experienced a transformation as the result of hearing his elders. Ptah said he talked with the boy’s mother for nearly thirty minutes after the show and she was in shock that her son went on stage and said what he said. She couldn’t believe what was coming out of his mouth. She had brought him to the show because she wanted him to hear something different from the 50-cent and TI that he listens to all the time.

She didn’t know he had any conscious rap in him, so it appears his rap was free-style based on what he’d absorbed during the concert. She was shocked but elated that we had elicited such a positive response from her son. She and her son were overjoyed when Ptah told them the boy is now a member of the University of Poetry and Hug A Thug Book Club. The boy told Ptah he wants to be a conscious rapper when he grows up.

Ptah said he overheard Earl Davis tell a brother there is no generation gap. It was obvious the entire family or village was represented on stage last evening, from the children to the hip hop (Ptah)  to the women to the elders (Earl Davis is 70).

If the boy absorbed consciousness that quickly, there is hope for the race. And we must move expeditiously to spread the light of truth. MX

posted 5 August 2006

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Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)


Books by Marvin X

Love and War: Poems  / In the Crazy House Called America

 Woman: Man’s Best Friend Beyond Religion Toward Spirituality

Marvin X on YouTube   Marvin X Table  

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 10 January 2012




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