The Power of Poetry
Tongo Eisen-Martin

Poetry does as much as the reader is ready for. Does as much as the writer can walk through her or his walls. Therefore poetry is every stitch of an expanding universe; every stitch of an expanding universe speaking for itself. Or therefore poetry is a song you decide to sing to yourself some other time. The revolution that is waiting for us. The humanity that teases us behind our backs as we are turned fixated on a hundred fears and delusions. It is the song we know in the trenches. The playfulness of people outnumbered and outgunned.

I don’t so much write poetry, as I do notice it. Notice it when I look around a room; look around the bus stop that the rich will erase by the end of this year along with the rest of the neighborhood; into myself at four in the morning; into the history of an oppressive society with a genocidal history; into the ideas of people (some admired, others resisted). And what am I looking for? I look for patterns. I look for parallels. I look for details. The intersection of back stories. Spheres of meaning. Images that synthesize the bigger and smaller picture of a moment.

And all roads lead to liberation. My poetry belongs to movement work. What we seek is complete self-determination; meaning when I step outside, everything I experience should be determined by us in the spirit of what is good for humanity, not what is good a for few people’s power and profit. We struggle for the right to determine our reality. Who better to fight for that determination than the poet; who has such an intimate relationship to the creation of reality; who in a sense is the confidant of reality.

What is the difference between a group of words and a group of words considered poetic? The poem will be an interruption. The poem will be the bridge home. The patterns that we discover and tell, as sure as jazz drum solos, cut through the dictatorship of inhibiting thoughts, lies and anxieties that keep your attention and expression away from your love and wisdom; that keep us away from each other. That keep millions incarcerated, and millions more incarcerated in the open air. That keep state and state sponsored violence in charge. Who better to interrupt the ruling class program than the poet?

I live to the music of a few conclusions. One of the most important of these conclusions is that a free people do not go back to slavery. Movement of this era, as importantly as anything else, is a cultural project. It is a psychic walk to consciousness, critical thinking, and committed action. Therefore, poetry is movement blood. Poetry is a representation of the fight forward and the journey back to our true selves.

The universe expands, possibly contracts, and always wants us to be free. And always we are ready for liberation. We are the universe looking at itself. Talking to itself. Healing itself. Instructing itself even. Always. We are ready for liberation.

Tongo Eisen-Martin is a poet and movement worker. His latest collection of poems titled “Someone’s Dead Already” is published by Bootstrap Press.


  1. kiwiskan says:

    brilliant words – I’ll be looking for his book…

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