Advice at the Beginning of the Revolution: Michael Warr + Tongo Eisen-Martin

In partnership with The Guild Complex as part of their Press Room series, Bay Area authors Michael Warr and Tongo Eisen-Martin (San Francisco Poet Laureate) discuss their work, the nature of protest, and how the historical acts of revolution during the heyday of the Black Power Movement in the Bay Area has influenced the literary activism in a post-George Floyd era of radical social change. ". . .Advice at the beginning of the revolution" is a line from Tongo Eisen-Martin's poem A Good Earth and serves as a framework for this important conversation. **We ask that all attendees wear masks during the program for the health and well-being of the speakers and other guests. We will have a reception afterwards with light refreshments.** ________________________________________________________ Speakers: Originally from San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a poet, movement worker, and educator. 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. His book titled, “Someone’s Dead Already” was nominated for a California Book Award. His book “Heaven Is All Goodbyes” was published by the City Lights Pocket Poets series, was shortlisted for the Griffins Poetry Prize and won a California Book Award and an American Book Award. His latest book “Blood On The Fog” was released this fall in the City Lights Pocket Poets series and named one of the New York Times poetry books of the year. In 2020, he co-founded Black Freighter Press to publish revolutionary works. He is San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate. Michael Warr is an award-winning poet and the Poetry Editor for “Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin,” published by W.W. Norton. After selling out the first print run of 8000, the anthology was reprinted in 2019. Of Poetry & Protest, which can still be found at bookstores around the country, through distributors, and at libraries and museums, is a collection of poetry, essays, and archival materials, compiled by Phil Cushway, edited and poems selected by Michael Warr, with photographic portraits by Victoria Smith. Warr received a $40,000 Creative Work Fund to produce his on-going multimedia project “Tracing Poetic Memory in Bayview Hunters Point” where he spent part of his early childhood. His family moved away from Hunters Point when he was so young that he remembers little of the neighborhood. The project “Tracing Poetic Memory,” is based in his return to the community to search for memory and tell his family’s story. Working with digital artist Mark Sabb, Warr integrates his poetry with digital platforms (video, photography, social media, animation, VR and archival materials). In partnership with the Bayview Hunters Point YMCA, the two artists are also worked with youth and their families to create their own mixture of poetic storytelling with digital images. Another ongoing project, “Two Languages / One Community” began with the translation of Michael’s poems into Chinese by poet Chun Yu. They extended that collaboration to engage African Americans and Chinese speakers – who live, work, or learn together – in writing workshops to cultivate their own stories and poems, which are then translated and published. A project website is under construction at and the trilingual chapbook “Catching Memory” will be released in 2019. Michael is a San Francisco Library Laureate and board member of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Other poetry honors include a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature, Black Caucus of the American Library Association Award, Gwendolyn Brooks Significant Illinois Poets Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, and the Ragdale Foundation US – Africa Fellowship. “We Are All The Black Boy,” his first book of poems was honored by the Illinois Library Association. A frequent collaborator with musicians, visual and performing artists, his poems have been dramatized for theater, depicted on canvas, and set to original musical composition. He is the founding Executive Director of The Guild Complex, based in Chicago, and more recently the former Deputy Director of the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, where he grew up. An award-winning arts educator, he combines poetry, performance, and storytelling with digital images, text, and music in interactive writing and mentoring workshops. ________________________________________________________ This event is cosponsored by The Guild Complex and Haymarket Books. While all of our events are freely available, we ask that those who are able make a solidarity donation in support of our important publishing and programming work.