Tongo Eisen-Martin was born in 1980 in San Francisco, California to a revolutionary mother Arlene Eisen. His parents named him after Josiah Tongogara. Muralist Miranda Bergman is his godmother. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in African-American Studies, all from Columbia University where he taught at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies, creating the 2012 curriculum We Charge Genocide Again! He has also taught at detention centers, including San Quentin and Rikers Island. He is the co-founder of Black Freighter Press.
“Tongo’s words are bricks- with which he builds houses, breaks windows, and – strangely- entices you to take a bath in. I first heard his poetry and got scared of dying. Like- I better figure shit out because this is the new shit and he’s on something I’m not. He’s noticing shit that I better notice if I want to experience life in color. He knows that to live- you gotta make shit around you move. You can’t just watch. I’m thrilled that this album is coming out so y’all can be scared of not living too.”