The editors of Dryland congratulate Tongo-Eisen Martin for being selected as San Francisco’s 8th Poet Laureate by city Mayor London Breed.
Eisen-Martin is a previous contributor of Dryland; his poems “I Do Not Know the Spelling of Money” and “I Make Promises Before I Dream” were featured in Issue 10 in 2020. He joins the honorary list of Bay Area poets laureate that include Devorah Major, Alejandro Murguía, and Kim Schuck; In 1998, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, founder of City Lights Books, was the first poet to be awarded the title.
In 2018, City Lights published Eisen-Martin’s chapbook Heaven is All Goodbyes for their Pocket Poet series, which won several book awards, including the 2018 American Book Award. Born and raised in San Francisco, Eisen-Martin’s latest curriculum on extrajudicial killing of Black people, “We Charge Genocide Again,” has been used as an educational and organizing tool nation wide.
In a press conference via zoom with Mayor Breed, Eisen-Martin delivered a speech reflecting his commitment to the Bay Area community as a poet, movement worker, and educator in order to create cultural work that is transformative and conducive to liberation. “A poet of any station is secondary to the people. A poet of any use belongs to the energy and consciousness of the people,” he said, “my aim as San Francisco poet laureate is to join with that energy in order to create vehicles of unity. Events, workshops, readings, are all vehicles for unity. I will never tire building as many as this city can handle.”
His second book in the City Lights Pocket Poet series will be released in fall 2021.