Today on My Poetic Side we bring you the new San Francisco poet Laureate and the Dr Maya Angelou doll.
San Francisco Appoints New Poet Laureate
Tongo Eisen-Martin has been appointed as the eighth poet laureate for San Francisco. Born in San Francisco he is a writer, a poet, an organiser and an educator who has spent much of his time working around the theme of racial justice.
Making the announcement last Friday, London Breed, the Mayor, said that Eisen-Martin had shown the community what a successful Black man in San Francisco could achieve.
This is just one of the numerous honours that the poet has received in the course of his poetry career. “Heaven Is All Goodbyes” his poetry book published by City Lights Press, has won an American Book Award, a PEN Oakland Award, A California Book Award and in 2018, was also shortlisted for a Griffin International Poetry Prize.
Eisen-Martin has spent much of his time teaching at prisons all over the country, including the San Quentin Prison. He has also taught at the Institute for Research in African American Studies, which is at Columbia University. It was here that he earned his MFA. His 2012 curriculum “We Charge Genocide Again” has been used by students and teachers in prisons all over the country and looks at the links between extrajudicial killings of Black individuals, the police psyche and the empire. During the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, he led several Zoom workshops which interrogated white supremacy.
Breed said that the city was delighted to get the opportunity to work with the poet who has a real commitment to showing Black men and boys just what they can achieve.
Mattel Create Dr Maya Angelou Inspired Doll
As Black History Month approaches the makers of the Barbie Doll, Mattel has announced that they will be adding a Dr Maya Angelou inspired doll to the Inspiring Women collector series.
The doll will honour the history and the impact that the late poet had through her professional achievements and activism. The collection was launched in 2018 and there are nine heroic risk-takers who have already been created in the series, this new doll will be the tenth. Other dolls in the series include the Rosa Parks doll and the Ella Fitzgerald doll,
Mattel announced that the doll highlighted their commitment to putting the spotlight on Black female role models.
Dr Maya Angelou had a length career winning numerous accolades and awards including a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a staggering 50 honorary doctorates. In 1970 she was also nominated for a National Book Award.
Following the BLM protests many companies, Mattel included pledged to be more ethnically aware with their product ranges. It is hoped that in the future companies like Mattel will become more inclusive with the type of toys that they produce, so that a new generation might grow up seeing a world of ethnic diversity in their toy box.
The doll is only available for online pre-order at the moment.