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VIRTUAL: Launch for Melissa Valentine / The Names of All the Flowers, with Tongo Eisen-Martin

July 14, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm PDT

Booksmith and The Bindery host the launch for Melissa Valentine and her debut, The Names of All the Flowers. She’ll be in conversation with Tongo Eisen-Martin (Heaven is All Goodbyes). Please join us!

This will be a virtual event, which you are welcome to join via Zoom.

We will also be streaming live on our Facebook page.

*Please note* Buy your copy of The Names of All the Flowers from us to be entered into a raffle for a free signed copy of Thea Matthew’s Unearth [The Flowers]!

Friends, neighbors: We are pleased to be able to bring you some of our events virtually while our doors are otherwise closed in the interest of public health. If you’d like to support the store, you can still do that in the usual ways:

Buy the book and we’ll deliver it directly to your door.
> Buy one of our gift certificates, which we keep on file and never expire.
Make a donation.

Thank you very much for your support – we’re proud to be a legacy business and a mainstay of the Haight-Ashbury since 1976!

Melissa and her older brother Junior grow up running around the disparate neighborhoods of 1990s Oakland, two of six children to a white Quaker father and a black Southern mother. But as Junior approaches adolescence, a bullying incident and later a violent attack in school leave him searching for power and a sense of self in all the wrong places; he develops a hard front and falls into drug dealing. Right before Junior’s twentieth birthday, the family is torn apart when he is murdered as a result of gun violence.

The Names of All the Flowers connects one tragic death to a collective grief for all black people who die too young. A lyrical recounting of a life lost, Melissa Valentine’s debut memoir is an intimate portrait of a family fractured by the school-to-prison pipeline and an enduring love letter to an adored older brother. It is a call for justice amid endless cycles of violence, grief, and trauma, declaring: “We are all witness and therefore no one is spared from this loss.”

“In this poignant, painful, and gorgeous memoir, Melissa Valentine bravely explores what faces black boys and men, through the eyes of a black woman, sister, daughter, and member of a family whose lives are altered forever, time and time again. The Names of All the Flowers encourages us to be brave too; brave enough to imagine a world that loves black people, in all of our complexities.” – Alicia Garza, cofounder, Black Lives Matter

“You will think about this book for a very long time.” – Catherine McKinley, author of The Book of Sarahs: A Family in Parts

“Valentine’s words on grief and trauma will stick with me for life: ‘We are all witness and therefore no one is spared from this loss.’ This is a book I know I’ll return to time and time again.” – Tyler Ford, founding editor, them

“Sharp and incredibly courageous, The Names of All the Flowers is an act of profound love, profound service. Valentine gives herself the task of speaking the words of all of our grief, all of our trauma, and she does so with unexpected beauty and honesty. I could not resist this book. In the end, it broke me.” – Carvell Wallace, writer, New York Times Magazine

Melissa Valentine courtesy of Feminist PressMelissa Valentine is a writer from Oakland, CA. She earned her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and her MFA in creative writing from Mills College. She has been a fellow at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and her work has appeared in JezebelGuernicaApogee Journal, and others. Her writing has received honorable mention from Glimmer Train and the Ardella Mills Non-fiction Award. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.




Tongo Eisen-Martin courtesy of the poetOriginally from San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a poet, movement worker, and educator. His latest 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 latest book Heaven Is All Goodbyes was published by the City Lights Pocket Poets series, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and won a California Book Award and an American Book Award.

This event is free and all ages.

To have The Names of All the Flowers sent to your door, order here or below.

RSVP appreciated by not required.


July 14, 2020
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm PDT
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