With emcee, Tonya M. Foster
Cosponsored by The Poetry Center and Black Freighter Press
This remote access event starts promptly at 7:00 pm Pacific Time, and is free and open to the public. We welcome people with disabilities and want to do what we can to make the event accessible to you. *** Live captioning will be provided. *** Media captioning will be available after the event at our YouTube channel and at Poetry Center Digital Archive.
Program supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts
There’s a ship
The Black Freighter
With a skull on its masthead
Will be coming in
—Nina Simone, “Pirate Jenny”
- “Black Freighter Press publishes revolutionary books. We are committed to the exploration of liberation, using art to transform consciousness. A platform for Black and Brown writers to honor ancestry and propel radical imagination. We aim to create a world where the collective determines cultural reality.”
The Poetry Center, in conjunction with Black Freighter Press—newly launched by San Francisco’s recently-named Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin and Alie Jones—presents a celebration of this welcome Bay Area-based poetry press. Featured will be Mahogany L. Browne, Christopher Malec, and Josiah Luis Alderete, reading from their new works, with Tongo Eisen-Martin reading from the final book of late poet Q.R. Hand. They’ll be joined by special guest Alie Jones during the conversation following their readings, along with emcee, Tonya M. Foster.
Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer and educator. Executive Director of Bowery Poetry Club, Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC, and Poetry Coordinator at St. Francis College, Browne is the author of Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby & Black Girl Magic (Macmillan), Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books), Dear Twitter (Penmanship Books), and the young-adult coming-of-age novel in verse, Chlorine Sky (Crown Books, 2021). She is also the founder of the Woke Baby Book Fair (a nationwide diversity literature campaign), and as an Arts for Justice grantee, is completing her first book of essays on mass incarceration, investigating its impact on women and children. Black Freighter Press brought out the collaborative limited edition book Wash the Dead, “an investigation of the mass incarceration pandemic through the eyes of its survivors, and a culminating response to the space Art for Justice Fund has cultivated for these difficult conversations,” featuring the work of artist Russell Craig and Browne’s writings. Some copies remain for sale from Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. More here.
Christopher Malec was recently named the Luis Hernandez Florida Prison Poet Laureate by Exchange for Change, in collaboration with O, Miami Poetry Festival. Responsibilities of the Laureate include writing commissioned poems for special occasions and events; promoting the work of other inmates; and acting as a representative for the incarcerated voice. Malec’s work has been commissioned by the University of Arizona’s Art for Justice project, and Black Freighter Press will bring out his first book, Pendulum Under a Dead Clock, in 2021. Listen to his work here.
Josiah Luis Alderete’s Baby Axolotls & Old Pochos is just out from Black Freighter Press. These poems “hold space inside a colonized time and place we can still recognize as San Francisco.” Aldete is a full-blooded Pocho Spanglish speaking poeta from La Area Bahia. He began to write poetry in the kitchen of his Mama’s Mexican restaurant, began performing his work in the Mission District of San Pancho at Cafe Babar back in the ’90s, and was a founding member of word troupe The Molotov Mouths. He is also a radio insurgente whose stories have appeared on KALW’s “Crosscurrents" and whose show “The Spanglish Power Hour” aired on KPFA. Alderete curates and hosts the (pre-pandemic) Latinx reading series SPEAKING AXOLOTL in Oakland.
Tongo Eisen-Martin is a poet, movement worker, and educator. 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. A finalist for the 2018 Griffin International Poetry Prize for his book in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series, Heaven Is All Goodbyes, which received the California Book Award and American Book Award, he is also author of someone’s dead already (Bootstrap Press), Waiting Behind Tornadoes for Food (Materials, UK), and the forthcoming Blood on the Fog, due from City Lights as Pocket Poets No. 62 in September 2021. Eisen-Martin was the Poetry Center’s inaugural Mazza Writer in Residence in Fall 2017. A native of San Francisco, he is cofounder and editor of Black Freighter Press, and San Francisco’s eighth Poet Laureate.
Q.R. Hand Jr. (1937–2020) was a beloved poet, community mental health care worker, and longtime presence in the Mission District, having come to San Francisco from New York City in 1960 at age 23. Along with giving hundreds of readings, he worked with performance poetry and music group WordWind Chorus with late poet Reginald Lockett, Brian Auerbach, and poet-musician Lewis Jordan. Hand published three books of poems: i speak to the poet in man (1985), how sweet it is (1996), and whose really blues (2008). Black Freighter Press will bring out his final book, Out of Nothing, in Spring 2021. Q.R. Hand Jr. read his work for The Poetry Center two times, in 1983 (with Genny Lim and Juan Felipe Herrera) and in a solo reading in 2012. Read Clara-Sophia Daly’s illuminating obituary for the Mission Local here.
Alie Jones is a self-care advocate, writer, and Creole mermaid. Currently pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing and Literature at Mills College, she is the founder of Bodacious Bombshells, a wellness-focused art collective based in Oakland. Her work on Black Mental Health and self-care has been featured on Afropunk, xoNecole, and Medium.com. Alie is the host of the podcast called Chit Chat with Aliecat, exploring self-care practices and journeys of self-love in community. She is cofounder and director of Black Freighter Press.
Photos of Mahogany L. Browne and Q.R. Hand Jr.