Brad explains why he's excited about our event with Daegan Miller on Tuesday, 5/22 @ 7pm.
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Heaven Is All Goodbyes: Pocket Poets No. 61 (City Lights Pocket Poets #61) (Paperback)
If you've heard Tongo Eisen-Martin read before, it's hard not to hear him all over again as you read his work. There is a musicality to his performance, and its fed by the language he puts on paper. This is radical black poetry -- it's important American poetry. It's Coltrane, Ginsberg, and Gil Scott-Heron, all alive again ... having never died. It's being human and fragile. It's resisting arrest. It's living and breathing against all the forces, of law and order, that would prefer you'd not.— Brad
Shortlisted for the 2018 Griffin International Poetry Prize
Winner of the 2018 California Book Award - Poetry
2018 NCIBA Book of the Year - Poetry
The much-awaited second book by a truly revolutionary poet, in the lineage of Gil Scott-Heron, Allen Ginsberg, and Audre Lorde.
"Eisen-Martin's impeccable collection is a crucial document of this time."--Publishers Weekly, starred review
This is truly revolutionary poetry. A vortex of images, observations, inspired leaps and free associations spills forth from a choir living in oppression and transience. Moments of political and spiritual convergence, surrealism and blunt materiality, gangsterism and its husk, revolution and perseverance, are captured in the music of metaphor and pure intention.
Praise for Heaven Is All Goodbyes
"The tesseraic language of Tongo Eisen Martin's Heaven Is All Goodbyes brings a new, shared articulation to the intricacies and interconnections of grief and life, speech and site, state and inhabitant, violence and landscape. Here, polyvocal assemblages gather and revolt against our 'porcelain epoch / succeeding for the most part / dying for the most part / married for the most part to its death.' This is resistance as sound."--Claudia Rankine
"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 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
"What a wonderful feeling for life. If we are born--we will die. If we love--we will be rejected. If we are rejected--we will leave. The balance of these poems, one against another, gives us laughter, love and hope. Heaven isn't Goodbye--its only the next stop on our heart's journey."--Nikki Giovanni
"Yet again Tongo Eisen-Martin employs his blade sharp intellect, his wry and piercing wit and unflinching candor to make poems that matter. This collection demands that the reader sees more than themselves--both on the page and in the surrounding world. The poems beg to be read aloud, to be pronounced as spells and incantations, as report backs from communities both known and shrouded. Read this work. Then read it again. Again. Again."--Chinaka Hodge, author of Dated Emcees
"This striking new work from Tongo Eisen-Martin is a timely reminder of Amiri Baraka's call for poems that are useful, poems that breathe like wrestlers. At every turn, Heaven Is All Goodbyes demands that we engage the systemic violence woven into our daily living right alongside the persistent force that is black social life, the joy that everyday people cultivate against unthinkable odds. And even though Eisen-Martin grounds us, necessarily, in the material constraints of the modern world, he doesn't leave us there. He calls us elsewhere. He brings us with him into a robust, illuminating vision of the worlds that exist outside and underneath the one that seeks to curtail our liberation, contain our love. This is work that challenges as it lifts. These are the unabashed abolitionist lyrics of a writer who knows that stakes are high and so is the cost of conceding our most radical dreams. In a moment marked by cynicism and disenchantment, Eisen-Martin remains a believer: in the commons, in collective struggle, in our capacity to flourish in the midst of what we were never meant to survive."--Joshua Bennett, author of The Sobbing School
About the Author
Born in San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is the author of the critically acclaimed poetry book, Someone's Dead Already. 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. He has educated in detention centers from New York's Rikers Island to California's San Quentin State Prison. His work in Rikers Island was featured in the New York Times . He was also adjunct faculty at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York. 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.