Words and Music: Tongo Eisen-Martin with Marshall Trammell
“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.” — Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division and How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America
Eisen-Martin is 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, was published in September by City Lights Books’ venerable Pocket Poets series.
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 U.S. He has taught in detention centers from New York’s Rikers Island to California county jails. He has been a faculty member at Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African-American Studies and designed curricula for oppressed people’s education projects from San Francisco to South Africa. His latest curriculum, “We Charge Genocide Again,” has been used as an educational and organizing tool throughout the country.
Marshall R. Trammell is the founder and chief investigator of Music Research Strategies, an interdisciplinary artist performing-ethnomusicology, political education and social engagement platform working with video, sound, music, text, geography and data collection environments. His work combines reimaginings of “narratives of fugitivity,” tactical media and solidarity economics of the Underground Railroad for today’s political landscape. Trammell is the percussionist in the Black Spirituals artist collective. Trammell has performed and curated work nationally and internationally. He is a researcher-in-residence at Prelinger Library in San Francisco, producing a body of work called “Indexical Moment/um.”
Mazza Writer in Residence
The Poetry Center’s Mazza Writer in Residence program allows Eisen-Martin to work with students of poetry, drama and other studies, and present performances both on and off the SF State campus, with intensive student and community involvement. The residency pairs classroom workshop situations aimed at students, with performances open to the general public.
The Mazza Writer in Residence is made possible by a generous grant from the Sam Mazza Foundation.