Thanks to a generous grant from the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, The Poetry Center is thrilled to launch our new In Common Writers Series. We'll present six double-programs (twelve events in all) during 2018–19, featuring a series of remarkable writers from across the US, paired in conversation and performance with (for the most part) local area writers with whom they share strong affinities. Each featured guest writer appears at The Poetry Center—we're doing outreach in particular to students and faculty in SF State's College of Ethnic Studies—reading here and in conversation with their paired writer, and then off-campus with both writers reading their work at one of the Bay Area's local bookstores. We want to recognize our local bookstores as crucial cultural centers and, paradoxically maybe, among the most long-lived and durable cultural sites in this violently gentrified greater community.
Kiese Laymon will be presenting his powerful new book Heavy: An American Memoir (Scribner, 2018), traveling to San Francisco from his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. He'll read and join Tongo Eisen-Martin in conversation at The Poetry Center during the afternoon, Thursday October 25, then the two of them will each present their own work that same evening at Oakland's landmark Marcus Books, "the oldest African American-themed bookstore in the country."
"Oh my god. I just finished Heavy by Kiese Laymon. It is. Astonishing. Difficult. Intense. Layered.... Wow. Just wow." —Roxane Gay
Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA in Fiction from Indiana University. Laymon is currently a Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of the award-winning novel, Long Division, a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and Heavy: An American Memoir, brand new from Scribner in October 2018. Laymon has written for numerous publications including New York Times, NPR, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, The Guardian, McSweeneys, Colorlines, The Best American Series, Ebony and many others. He is a contributing editor of Oxford American.
Born in San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is the author of someone’s dead already (Bootstrap Press, 2015) and Heaven Is All Goodbyes (City Lights Books, Pocket Poets Series, 2017). He is a movement worker, educator, and poet who has organized against mass incarceration and extra-judicial killing of Black people throughout the United States. Subscribing to the Freirian model of education, he 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 uses his craft to create liberated territory wherever he performs and teaches. He recently lived and organized around issues of human rights and self-determination in Jackson, MS. Eisen-Martin was The Poetry Center's premier Mazza Writer in Residence in 2017.
In Common Writers Series
Kiese Laymon and Tongo Eisen-Martin
reading from their works
Thursday OCT 25
*6:30 door; readings 7:00pm sharp @ Marcus Books
3900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (one block west of MacArthur BART), Oakland, free and open to the public
supported by the Walter & Elise Haas Fund