Kiese Laymon and Tongo Eisen-Martin
Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. He attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned his Master of Fine Arts in fiction from Indiana University. Laymon is the Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi. He served as the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Nonfiction at University of Iowa in fall 2017. Laymon is the author of the novel Long Division and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. Laymon has written for numerous publications including New York Times, National Public Radio, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, The Guardian, McSweeneys, Colorlines, The Best American Series, Ebony and many others. He is a contributing editor of Oxford American.
Laymon’s Heavy: An American Memoir is out this October from Scribner. “Kiese Laymon has done nothing less than write the autobiography of the first generation of African Americans born after the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s and the Black Power ethos of the 1970s.” — Courtney Baker.
Tongo 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 2017 by City Lights Books’ venerable Pocket Poets series. “Eisen-Martin’s impeccable collection is a crucial document of this time.” — Publishers Weekly.
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.