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This writer had the opportunity to conduct a telephone interview Monday, April 7, 2014 with one of the Baltimore area's well-known artists.

Aquil Mizan has become a renaissance man. He is known for his poetic flow at many of Baltimore's venues, and also can be seen hustling his spoken word CDs. But Mizan has another secret. He has another artistic interest. He plays the alto saxophone, unbeknownst to many of his fans.

Aquil (meaning one wrapped up in the mind of Allah-God) Mizan (meaning the balance),started as a self-inspired poet watching sit-coms, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son and Good Times,in which the characters played a game called 'The Dozens'.

In 1985, he began writing with consistency, after hearing Kurtis Blow's rap about 'Basketball' and composing a rap of his own about his love for football. His first poem, however, was a version of 'The Dozens'.

In the late 1990's, he bought his first jazz CD, John Coltrane's 'Spiritual'. He found himself purchasing more jazz and was also introduced to the poetry scene at that time. In 2002, he released his first CD and was reintroduced to Sean Toure, whose production style was musical and Mizan found himself being drawn into the world of musical instruments. He had to decide between an upright bass and a saxophone. (Because of the ease in transporting it, the saxophone won.)

Someone, eventually, gifted him with a saxophone and his love for that instrument was born.

Mizan is influenced by a lot of people including LL CooL J, Rakim, Chuck D and Public Enemy, KRS-1, Elijah Muhammad, Minister Farakhan, EthePoetEmcee, Rebecca Dupas, John Coltrane, Grover Washington, Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye. He says his poetry is reflective of these influences, but in different ways, depending upon the piece.

He has performed in Baltimore at Warm Wednesdays, Notre Maison, Barnes & Noble, Be Free Fridays, Acoustic Thursdays, VERBATIM Mondays, and also in DC at Mic Check and Spit Dat.

He has an upcoming appearance in the Baltimore area. He will feature this Thursday, April 10, 2014 at BUILD Thursdays, located at Francisco's the Artist Spot, Central and Eastern Avenues.

Mizan advises the next generation to, artistically, spend time watching and listening to that person who inspires you. Along with the external influences that teachers and mentors may require, study and learn the uniqueness of you so that you can find and finetune your own voice in whatever it is you pursue.

Aquil Mizan can be reached via Facebook and Twitter or

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