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Heaven Is All Goodbyes


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Galleys available upon request Co-op available Radio interviews on All Things Considered, This American Life Features & interviews in LA Review of Books, Largehearted Boy, Poets and Writers Magazine Reviews in The Advocate, American Book Review, American Poet, At Length Magazine, Bookforum, Booklist, Boston Review, Brooklyn Rail, Chicago Review, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, Curve, Diva Magazine, Go Magazine, Haitian Times, Journal of Haitian Studies, Lambda Literary Review, LA Review of Books, LA Times, Library Journal, Ms. Magazine, The Miami Herald, n+1, The Nation, NY Review of Books, NY Times, Out, Poetry Magazine, Poetry Project Newsletter, Publisher's Weekly, Rain Taxi, The Rumpus, Shelf Awareness, SF Chronicle, Washington Post Excerpts in American Poet, The Awl, Bomb, Eleven Eleven, Zyzzyva, Publicity and promotion in conjunction with the author's speaking engagements. Will pitch to regional media, including newspapers and radio stations. Promotion via City Lights social media: City Lights Blog, CL Facebook (32K likes), CL Twitter (119K followers), Goodreads (5000 friends), CL Instagram (13.5K followers) Endorsements: Juan Felipe Herrera, Kiese Laymon, Q.R. Hand, Joshua Bennet, Saul Williams, Terrance Hayes, Will Alexander, Claudia Rankine, devorah major, Nathanial Mackey, Chinaka Hodge, Ta-Nehisi Coates

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.


Shortlisted for the 2018 Griffin International Poetry Prize2018 American Book Award Winner2018 PEN Oakland Award WinnerWinner of the 2018 California Book Award for Poetry
2018 NCIBA Poetry Book of the Year
"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.'"--Judges' Citation, Griffin International Poetry Prize"Eisen-Martin responds to state violence, deindustrialization, police brutality, the prison industrial-complex, and more in this churning whirlpool that records the complicated experiences faced by members of the African diaspora in America. He looks to history, writing of 'the way condemned Africans fought their way back to the ocean only to find waves made of / 1920s burned up piano parts / European backdoor deals / and red flowers for widows who spend all day in the sun mumbling at San Francisco.' But as an educator and organizer, Eisen-Martin is also steeped in the current moment. The passion with which he writes calls the reader to join the masses in the streets: 'you are going to want/ to lose that job / before the revolution hits.' It's a slippery, complex collection; long poems of polyphonic voices slalom across the margins of the page while unattributed quotes pop in and out, like singular expressions in a protest crowd. 'We got plenty of pain/ to stay on this guitar/ for one hundred years, ' declares an anonymous voice in 'May Day' amid swirls of lament and celebration. Unabashedly a product of 21st-century America and fully attuned to its historical lineage, Eisen-Martin's impeccable collection is a crucial document of this time."--Publishers Weekly, starred review"[T]he poems of [Eisen-Martin's] astonishing book Heaven Is All Goodbyes come together and read in a way that's similar to his speech ... he paints tragic pictures of death, oppressive systems and cigarettes dragged in order to breathe. ... The voices enter and exit without explanation and are part of what makes his poems at once urgent protests and jazz-like puzzles."--San Francisco Chronicle"'Somewhere in america/ the prison bus is running on time, ' writes Tongo Eisen-Martin in Heaven Is All Goodbyes, the poetry collection I turned to most in 2018. (It came out in September 2017, but I got hip to it late -- this isn't science.) Eisen-Martin is singing in dark times about dark times. Every poem pops with rightly sad inscrutability: 'the city rain feels like clientele.' Nature itself: a customer database. Anna Akhmatova, waiting in line outside a Soviet prison to learn of her son's fate, was asked, 'Can you describe this?' 'Yes, ' she said, 'I can.' Eisen-Martin waits in line with the rest of us, describing: 'If it has a prison, it is a prison. Not a city.'"--Michael Robbins, Chicago Tribune"There is a sublime cadence in Eisen-Martin's work that is polyphonic, gritty, and unexpectedly fragile, like jazz. These poems yell, shriek, whisper, mumble in a mosaic of disenfranchised voices pondering police brutality, guns, the power of community, the terror of inherited addiction, and the cold nature of a city that blankets the poor and colored in oppression. . . . I don't know about you, but it's exactly the type of poetry I would want to be reading at the end of the world--the kind that holds a mirror to itself, then a mirror to that mirror."--KQED Arts"Heaven Is All Goodbyes makes no promises ... Instead, it recites a prayer that doesn't expect to be answered ... The equanimity and confidence of these poems cut through catastrophe, reminding us to stay attuned to the present moment, sensitive to whatever circumstances we may end up in."--Mask Magazine"Eisen-Martin's poetry presents a frank and unflinching portrait of the contemporary urban imagination unrelentingly ravaged by social injustice. He serves witness to how prevalent the imbalances of race and power in our society are."--American Poetry Review"The 42 poems in this poet's second book are a volatile cocktail of surrealism, blunt images, raw observations and transcendent epiphanies. Eisen-Martin is a poetic Jimi Hendrix on the page and the stage."--Cultural Weekly"More than grieving the dead and the ideology that normalizes their killing, poetry should encourage disinvestment in the state of affairs that normalizes death and suffering. It should encourage broad reimagining of social arrangement, and address itself to the forms of collective life that may emerge. Heaven Is All Goodbyes does just that, and offers a glimpse of what poetry might follow the dissolution of the current order."--Commune Magazine

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