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?UESTIONS: Tongo Eisen-Martin

Updated: Jun 17, 2022

The truth. A revolutionary mind, captivating with every word. Like oxygen, Tongo Eisen-Martin gives life. His style is electric and infectious. A soul genius.

As a poet and a human being, how important is the power of word?

The power of the word, or we can pan out and say the power to define the world, is departure point of liberation. To be a slave is to have your identity, the totality of reality, and the relationship between your identity and the totality of reality defined by people who would enslave you, wielding forces external to you. Also, we see this process of alienation of phenomenal definition being facilitated by violence.

It’s not that an oppressor is actually more intelligent or charismatic. Rather, they have the psyche to wield insane violence. Or the psyche to create a social reality that is nothing more than the normalization and crystallization of genocide. And so (and this is not an original thought of mine) the first step in joining a liberation process is to reabsorb your powers of defining yourself and reality.

An educator and mentor against mass incarceration and extra-judicial killing of Black people. Can you share with us the importance of this role?

Mass incarceration and extra-judicial killing are the true expression of this society’s relationship to non-white people; which is one of permanent war. And so contributing to struggle here is a solid entry point into the historical process. Here is a sure site for intervening in oppression. But ultimately we have to grow up to the fact that entry point is nowhere close to final showdown. And that all single issues struggles are just the scaffolding of a broader movement to take the power to determine reality out of the hands of the ruling class. Especially in the United States where the ruling class has been brilliant at absorbing single issue resistance into the narratives of the system being among other things the journey of reform, even redemption.

We have to stop looking at social and ecological reality as a movie starring systems of various governance as protagonists; and get down into the realities of people. Plain people killing. Plain people they kill. Plain people exploiting labor. Plain people they exploit. Plain people profiting off of a pandemic. Plain people dying for nothing. Plain people incarcerating etc. Then we can figure out what plain people can do to transform reality to one that expresses and protects human rights and human curiosity.

How can creativity influence growth and change?

If you look at growth as the result of dialectical processes, creativity is crucial in determining how much you can synthesize from contradictions. Creativity is what makes contradiction workable.

Also creativity facilitates culture outside of oppressive hegemony or evidence that despite how big and bad any of history’s war machines have been, the majority of the universe exists outside of oppressive hegemony. And further, through creativity, the universe dialogues with itself.

Can you share with us one of your favourite lines from one of your poems?

“Today I watched capitalism walk on water, and people play dead, so that they could be part of a miracle”

Instagram: @_tongogara_


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