Tongo Eisen-Martin’s previous book, the critically acclaimed someone’s dead already (2015) was nominated for a California Book Award, and his poetry has been featured in Harper’s Magazine. He is also a movement worker and educator who has taught in detention centres 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 his curriculum on the extrajudicial killing of Black People, “We Charge Genocide Again!”, has been used as an educational and organizing tool throughout America. He lives in San Francisco, California.
“Tongo Eisen-Martin’s Heaven Is All Goodbyes moves between trenchant political critique and dreamlike association, demonstrating how, in the right hands, one mode might energize the other—keeping alternative orders of meaning alive in the face of radical injustice. Eisen-Martin’s voice is a chorus of other voices, many arising from prisons and landscapes of engineered poverty; his poems are places where discourses and vernaculars collide and recombine into new configurations capable of expressing outrage and sorrow and love. This unpredictable volume is equally a work of commitment and of wonder; no false consolation, no settling for despair. Its music makes a clearing in the dominant logic of the day. “When a drummer is present, he or she is God // “I am not an I. / I am a black commons.”
More about Tongo Eisen-Martin
The following are links to other Web sites with information about poet Tongo Eisen-Martin.
- Just Keep Running: A Conversation with Tongo Eisen-Martin by Jeffrey Grunthaner (BOMB Magazine)
- A Poet’s Principles (San Francisco Examiner)
- Our Generation: Rules Are Meant to Be Broken, an Interview With Tongo Eisen-Martin (Poetry Foundation)
- ‘Breaking’ Presents: Tongo Eisen-Martin, a Poet With Movement-Building In His Bones (Colorlines)