Celebrating National Poetry Month | Mechanics' Institute

You are here

Celebrating National Poetry Month
with California Poet Laureate Lee Herrick, San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin, and Oakland's Inaugural Poet Laureate Ayodele Nzinga at Mechanics' Institute.

Join Mechanics' Institute for a special celebration of National Poetry Month with a trio of extraordinary poets for readings and discussion: California Poet Laureate Lee Herrick, San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin, and Oakland’s Inaugural Poet Laureate Ayodele Nzinga. Complimentary welcome reception and meet and greet with the poets will be held in the 4th floor Meeting Room at 5:30 pm.



Lee Herrick is the California Poet Laureate. He is the author of three books of poems: Scar and Flower, finalist for the 2020 Northern California Book Award; Gardening Secrets of the Dead; and This Many Miles from Desire.

He is co-editor of The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books 2020). His poems appear widely, in The Poetry FoundationAcademy of American PoetsThe Place That Inhabits Us: Poems from the San Francisco Bay WatershedIndivisible: Poems of Social Justice with a foreword by Common, HERE: Poems for the Planet, with a foreword by the Dalai Lama, and Dear America: Letters of HopeHabitatDefiance, and Democracy, among others. Herrick serves on the advisory board of Terrain.org and Sixteen Rivers Press. He co-founded LitHop in Fresno. He has taught in Qingdao, China, and for Kundiman.He was born in Daejeon, Korea and adopted as an infant. He lives with his family in Fresno, California and served as Fresno Poet Laureate from 2015-2017. He teaches at Fresno City College and in the low-residency MFA program at University of Nevada Reno at Lake Tahoe. He is the 10th California Poet Laureate, and the first Asian American to serve in the role.



Originally from San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a poet, movement worker, and educator. His 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 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.



Ayodele Nzinga is a multi-hyphenated artist; a brilliant actress, producing director, playwright, poet, dramaturg, performance consultant, educator, and community advocate. She is the director of the Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc., Oakland's oldest North American African Theater Company and founder of Lower Bottom Playaz Summer Theater Day Camp. She is co-founder of Janga’s House a Black Women Arts collective and a founding member of BlacSpace Cooperative. She is the Executive Director of the Black Arts Movement Business District Community Development Corporation, of Oakland, (BAMBD CDC); and founder and producer of BAMBDFEST International Biennial, a month-long arts and cultural festival animating the Black Arts Movement Business District in Oakland, CA. Nzinga holds an MFA in Writing and Consciousness; a Ph.D. in Transformative Education & Change; is a Cal-Shakes Artist Investigator Alumni; a San Francisco Foundation Arts Leadership Fellow; a member of the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame; recognized by Theater Bay Area as one of the 40 faces in the Bay that changed the face of theater in the Bay Area; is recognized by the August Wilson House as the only director in the world to direct the complete August Wilson American Century Cycle in chronological order; a YBCA 10 Fellow, a BIPOC Circle Fellow and a VOICES Community Journalism Fellow. Nzinga is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Oakland, CA. Nzinga's work for the stage has been reviewed internationally. Her blog is read in 81 countries. She is the author of Performing Literacy a Narrative Inquiry into Performance PedagogyThe Horse EatersSorrowLand Oracle, and Incandescent and her work can be found in numerous journals and anthologies. Nzinga, a cultural anchor, is part theoretician and part partitioner. She describes herself as a cultural architect invested in creating structures for culture making.

Please note: Photos and/or video may be taken during this event.


Meet the Author(s)

Members $5
Non-Members $15
Register now ›
4th Floor Meeting Room
Programs & Events - 415-393-0116
Register now by using the form below or calling 415-393-0116.


Future Meet the Author(s)

Jul 18 - 12:00 pm

The Sugar King of California: The Life of Claus Spreckels
with author and historian Sandra Bonura

World Literature

Jul 20 - 12:00 pm

The Discovery of Chess with Oliver Chin
Come Celebrate International Chess Day at Mechanics' Institute!

Aug 2 - 6:30 pm

In His Own Words: A James Baldwin Centennial Celebration
co-sponsored by the Museum of the African Diaspora

Aug 9 - 6:00 pm

Pure: The Sexual Revolutions of Marilyn Chambers
with Jared Stearns and Jesse Hawthorne Ficks