Highlight video clips: Tongo Eisen-Martin, from "Faceless" | Tongo-Eisen Martin, from "Heaven Is All Goodbyes" | Tongo Eisen-Martin on the nature of his performance
Full program video: Tongo Eisen-Martin: October 5, 2017
Thanks to a generous grant from the Sam Mazza Foundation, Bay Area poet and activist Tongo Eisen-Martin was invited to be The Poetry Center’s premier Mazza Writer in Residence, and was in residency throughout the first week of October, 2017. This performance and conversation was free and open to the public.
Also: Words and Music, Tongo Eisen-Martin with Marshall Trammell, in Performance
Saturday October 7, 7:00pm at The Green Arcade
“I don't know that there is a living writer whose work loves Black people as much as Tongo Eisen-Martin’s work loves us. In Heaven Is All Goodbyes, like all of Eisen-Martin’s work, this Black love is not clumsy, easy, sentimental or reliant on spectacle. That Black love lives in the cracked history and ambient future of who we’ve been in the dark, and what's been done to us in the light. These poems somehow watch and listen without intervening. And when they ask, they ask everything. Heaven Is All Goodbyes makes me want to live, and write, with us forever.”
—Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division and How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America
The Poetry Center’s Mazza Writer in Residence program allows Eisen-Martin to work, across a one-week residency, with students of poetry, drama, and other studies, and present performances both on and off the SFSU campus, with intensive student and community involvement. The residency will pair classroom “workshop” situations aimed at university students, with performances open to the general public.
Originally from San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a movement worker and educator who has organized against mass incarceration and extra-judicial killing of Black people throughout the United States. He has taught in detention centers from New York’s Rikers Island to California county jails. He has been a faculty member at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, and designed curricula for oppressed people’s education projects from San Francisco to South Africa. His latest curriculum on extrajudicial killing of Black people, We Charge Genocide Again, has been used as an educational and organizing tool throughout the country. He is also a revolutionary poet who uses his craft to create liberated territory wherever he performs and teaches. His first full-length book of poems, Someone’s Dead Already (Bootstrap Press), was nominated for a California Book Award. He recently lived and organized around issues of human rights and self-determination in Jackson, Mississippi. His second book, Heaven Is All Goodbyes, will be out soon in City Lights Books’ venerable Pocket Poets series.
View videos from Tongo Eisen-Martin’s September 8, 2016 reading at The Poetry Center, with Philadelphia poet Jasmine Gibson, a packed house event with over 100 people overfilling the Poetry Center reading room. The readings are followed by an extended conversation between the poets and with their audience: