The much-awaited second book by a truly revolutionary poet, in the lineage of Gil Scott-Heron, Allen Ginsberg, and Audre Lorde.
"Eisen-Martin's syntax lands somewhere between Sphinx and Thelonious . . . he makes spare, efficient, wild-eyed jazz . . . rubs mud and accountability into the pores of the 0s and 1s in the glass-and-steel city."—Marc Bamuthi Joseph, poet, playwright, Director of Performance at YBCA
This is truly revolutionary poetry. From the corner store to the dilapidated school, from the alleys between downtown office buildings to the prison, voices that have been through too much to care and yet still struggle on, relate the post-industrial U.S. Black experience. A vortex of images, observations, inspired leaps and free associations spill forth from a choir living in oppression and transience, invisible to and dismissive of the mainstream bourgeoisie. Moments of political and spiritual convergence, gangsterism and revolution, surrealism and blunt materiality are captured in the music of metaphor and pure intention. A modern-day Mystic, a true Seer, the depth of the poet's own humanity is rooted in every line, creating a liberated space for pain and beauty through a healing love for his people.
Praise for Heaven Is All Goodbyes:
"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. In Heaven Is All Goodbyes, like all of Eisen-Martin's work, this Black love is not clumsy, easy, sentimental or reliant on spectacle. That Black love lives in the cracked history and ambient future of who we've been in dark, and what's been done to us in the light. These poems somehow watch and listen without intervening. And when they ask, they ask everything. Heaven Is All Goodbyes makes me want to live, and write, with us forever."––Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division
"What a wonderful feeling for life. If we are born—we will die. If we love––we will be rejected. If we are rejected––we will leave. The balance of these poems, one against another, gives us laughter, love and hope. Heaven isn't Goodbye––its only the next stop on our heart’s journey.”––Nikki Giovanni
Tongo Eisen-Martin is the author of the critically acclaimed poetry book, someone’s dead already, and his poetry has been featured in Harper’s Magazine. He is also a movement worker and educator whose work in Rikers Island was featured in the New York Times. He has been a faculty member at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, and his curriculum on extrajudicial killing of Black people, "We Charge Genocide Again!" has been used as an educational and organizing tool throughout the country.