“Work is love made visible” is one of Glen Kalem’s favorite quotes from Kahlil Gibran’s iconic work, The Prophet. The Lebanese-Australian is an award-winning documentary film producer and research historian of the late poet and artist Kahlil Gibran. His research into the creation of Kahlil Gibran and much more is now available on this platform.
By Arthur Blok
“I would like to swap visible for visual: work is love-made visual. That suits the filmmaker in me”, Kalem added. Besides making films, he is one of a few active researchers in this field and a founding member of the International Kahlil Gibran Association and the Kahlil Gibran Collective (KGC), the latter being the most extensive website about Kahlil Gibran's Life, Works, and Legacy.
“I have dedicated the last 20 years in pursuit of Gibran's voice in the global village and have been a guest speaker at many international events, including being the first western scholar to be invited and speak at the Peking University in Beijing, China”, said Kalem who is seen as one of the few world authorities on the subject late Poet.
His Gibran studies, and publications, include the first academically recognized study on the translations of The Prophet in as many as 100+ languages, in addition to the 'Gibran in Popular culture' documentary film in the making.
Did Kahlil Gibran become an obsession, or is it more a passion? Kalem: “Well, it is something that evolved over the years. Besides sharing a common Lebanese heritage with Gibran, I started using Gibran's wisdom to attain some self-help guidance in my young adult life. It helped me to come in touch with my higher self and enter the next phase of my life.”
KGC (Kahlil Gibran Collective) was born shortly after the 2nd International Conference in 2012 held at Maryland University in Washington DC. A group of twelve international members from across the globe was elected. Kalem was one of them and co-formed the very first international Association dedicated to studying Kahlil Gibran under the auspices of The Kahlil Gibran Chair.
Sadly, the head of the Chair, renowned scholar, biographer, and mentor, Professor Suhiel Bushrui, passed away shortly afterward. Bushrui served as the University of Maryland’s George and Lisa Zakhem Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace.
Unfortunately, the Association was not formalized by the presiding or the university due to a “lack of funds.” Kalem: “This was when I called upon a small group of fellow members, with the blessing of the Bushrui family, to continue the work via a newly purchased domain name kahlilgibran.com. I purchased this for a small fortune with borrowed funds. Big dreams, what can I say”
The site has since then grown into the largest site dedicated to ‘The Artist, The Poet, The Man.’ It is full of information on Gibran’s life and legacy featuring the world's first digital archive with more than 600 individual entries and thousands of pages of material relating to Gibran.
“The goal was simple,” Kalem explained. The scholars wanted to build a website to continue their international studies and offer a platform to publish news and events reflecting the Global Gibran.
As of July, highlights of the KGC will also be published in this medium. Kicking-off with analysis from Francesco Medici about The strange case of Kahlil Gibran and Jubran Khalil Jubran. What’s up with his name?
Glen Kalem himself authored two other pieces in the new archive. One analysis offers some needed guidance to Gibran’s most famous work, The Prophet: a book that has been translated over 100 times, making it among the top ten most translated books in history. In another piece, Kalem shines his light on how Marilyn Monroe and Kahlil Gibran were married by the Prophet.
The work of Gibran might not be an obsession for Kalem, but it is severely addictive. The more you read, the more you want. Kalem: “As it turns out, I had many questions answered but became intrigued with the unanswered questions about Gibran’s life and works. I soon turned my attention to why one of the world's most read authors, whose work was revered socially and mainly shunned academically, was not given the honor it deserved.”
Kalem has a point. If one looks at Gibran's impressive figures, he should be placed in the same space as other giants of literature like Shakespeare, Lao Tzu, Blake, and even the Bible. Kalem: “Why doesn’t he have a home that celebrates, preserves, and honors the man and the work?
The KGC is a registered non-profit organization. It has formal agreements with the Gibran National Committee of Lebanon, who are seen as the custodians of Kahlil Gibran’s works.
Kalem’s organization is currently working on two significant projects. A permanent Kahlil Gibran Gallery in Melbourne, Australia, and an important event (to be announced) that celebrates the centennial of The Prophet in New York. Or, as Glen Kalem described it: “Fascinating times ahead indeed.”
For more information on the Kahlil Gibran Collective and Glen Kalem, visit their website here.