Tongo Eisen-Martin, author of “Heaven Is All Goodbyes.” Photo: Shalom Bower.
​The name Marc Bamuthi Joseph carries massive weight in the Bay Area artistic community and beyond. The current chief of program and pedagogy at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is a 2017 TED Global Fellow, an honoree of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship, co-founder of the Life is Living Festival for Youth Speaks, and an artist whose latest work was commissioned by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

All that is context for Bamuthi Joseph’s words below, in praise of San Francisco poet Tongo Eisen-Martin, who is set to read at the Depot Bookstore & Cafe on Thursday, July 5 at 7pm:

Eisen-Martin makes spare, efficient, wild-eyed jazz…rubs mud and accountability into the pores of the zeros and ones in the glass and steel city. Throughout (his 2015 book “Someone’s Dead Already,”) I return to the wonder of the writer’s economy of language, how deftly the words infuse their amulet casings with blood temperature at the edge of boiling. This work is as hungry as revolution, a necessary, deadly still in these shifting times…”

Eisen-Martin an SF native, received his MA from Columbia University. He is the author of Heaven Is All Goodbyes (City Lights, 2017) and the aforementioned Someone’s Dead Already (Bootstrap Press, 2015), which was nominated for a California Book Award.

Earlier this year, Eisen-Martin was short-listed for the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize 2018, founded in 2000 by businessman and philanthropist Scott Griffin and one of Canada’s biggest prizes for Canadian and international poets.

The reading at the Depot will also feature poets A’aron Heard and Isabelle Khoo-Miller and, the latter of whose own identity as a queer Chinese-Mexican-Jewish woman inspires her social work to establish intersectional and inclusive actions and conversations. 

Khoo-Miller has recently been involved in anti-gun violence organizing throughout the Bay Area, sexual assault advocacy through creating safe spaces and change around how to talk about and deal with sexual violence, and temporary relief programs for some of the Bay Area’s homeless population. 

The 411: San Francisco poet Tongo Eisen-Martin reads at the Depot Bookstore & Cafe, 87 Throckmorotn Ave., on Thursday, July 5 at 7pm. He’ll be joined by poets Isabelle Khoo-Miller and A’aron Heard. Here’s a poetry reading by Tongo Eisen-Martin at Laney College in Oakland in February 2018: