Miguel Piñero: poet, playwright, actor, and the cofounder of Nuyorican Poets Café with Miguel Algarín, Pedro Pietri

  • His poetry and the plays are so fraught with the things that aggravated and influenced him and ultimately made his life successful. He took this form and infused it with an urban, Latin lifeblood that had never been used in poetry before. He was remarkable as a writer in terms of never really self-editing himself or censoring himself.
  • I happen to feel that [Piñero] was a romantic character and there was something about his love for land that was very wonderful, the way he held Puerto Rico, that elusive homeland in the foreground of his thoughts and writing. For all of us who are uprooted and thrown into this city, to keep a semblance of that is always so dignified. That would make it perhaps a bit nostalgic for me because people like that don’t seem to be around anymore.


I spent the better part of yesterday responding to submissions to The BeZine and setting up International Poetry Month blog posts for our special series, which I am collaborating on with Michael Dickel. When I was through I decided to watch the acclaimed movie, Piñero, which I’ve been wanting to see for some time. I’m streaming through Amazon. So far, so good.  Benjamin Bratt’s performance is stellar. I’ve taken a break to share this with you.

Miguel Piñero was an award-winning poet, playwright, actor, and a leading member of the Nuyorican literary movement. He was inducted posthumously into the New York Writers Hall of Fame in 2013.

Piñero was born on December 19, 1946, in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. In 1950 he moved with his parents and sister to Loisaida (the Lower East Side) in New York City. When his father abandoned the family, his mother moved her children into a basement, applied for and received welfare.

Piñero would steal food to feed his mother and siblings. Thus the criminal convictions came early in his life. The first time when he was eleven years old. He was sent to the Juvenile Detention Center in the Bronx, New York, and to Otisville State Training School for Boys. He joined a street gang called “The Dragons” when he was 13; when he was 14, he was hustling in the streets of Manhattan. Over time he was drawn heavily to alcohol and drugs and died prematurely – aged 41 – on June 16, 1988 from cirrhosis. 

Eventually, Piñero moved to Brooklyn, where he and three other friends committed robberies, until they were caught at a jewelry store and was sent to Rikers Island prison in 1964.  In 1972, he was incarcerated in Sing Sing prison for second-degree armed robbery. His first literary work was Black Woman with a Blonde Wig On. Marvin Felix Camillo, the director of The Family, an acting troupe made up of ex-cons, submitted the poem to a contest, which it won.

While serving time in prison, Piñero wrote the play Short Eyes as part of the inmates’ playwriting workshop. Reviewer Mel Gussow came to see it, and due to his review in the New York Times, the director of the Theater at Riverside Church invited Piñero to present the play there.

“The theatre is the only thing that belongs to the people.” Miguel Piñero.

When Piñero left Sing Sing on parole in 1973, he was able to present Short Eyes with The Family. The title comes from “short heist”, the prison slang term for child molestation. Puerto Ricans could not pronounce the ‘h’ so it became “short eyes.” The play is a drama based on his experiences in prison and portrays how a house of detention populated primarily by black and Latino inmates is affected by the incarceration there of a white pedophile. Pedophiles are considered the lowest form of prison life. After all, the prisoners have siblings and children for whom they have concerns.

In 1974, Short Eyes was presented at Riverside Church in Manhattan. Theater impresario Joseph Papp (played in the movie by Mandy Patinkin) saw the play and was impressed. Papp moved the production to Broadway.

The play was nominated for six Tony Awards. It won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and an Obie Award for the “best play of the year”. The play catapulted Piñero to literary fame. Short Eyes was published in book form by the editorial house Hill & Wang. It was the first play written by a Puerto Rican to be put on Broadway. This initial success was followed by: Sideshow(1974), The Guntower (1976), The Sun Always Shines for the Cool (1976),Eulogy for a Small-Time Thief (1977), and Playland Blues (1980).

The following excerpt from the movie serves as an intro to it and to Piñero’s work if you are not familiar with him.  Also recommended is Outlaw, The Collected Works of Miguel Piñero

This post is complied from the following sources: Wikipedia, Poetry Foundation, Outlaw:The Complete Works of Miguel Piñero, and the movie Piñero.


Jamie Dedes:

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Red Clad Girl with a Dog, an ekphrastic poem

Géza Vőrős 1897 1957 ( Hungarian Painter )
Red clad girl and with dog ,1933

“The Universe said, ‘Let me show your soul something beautiful.”  Aberjhani, Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love



My Amparo dresses in black and white, as
I used to, “like a nun” said Consortia, then
One night I saw moonlight smiling over deep
Wood, birch bark shredding in papery layers
And witch’s broom growing in tall white pine
I heard whimpering rills, frogs and crickets,
Saw hummingbirds, a purple-throated carib
Sipping nectar from blooms in Dominica
I heard a lion roaring in Africa, learned of
An Italian and his espresso and a sweet
Brazilian girl who fell In love by the Amazon
All this I began celebrating in red, dancing in red,
Sleeping in red, making my tea and toast in red,
Living with a capital “L” on bare feet and clad in
A lively red silk dress with slits on each side

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

I recently joined a modern arts group on Facebook and someone posted this photograph of Géza Vőrős painting. It captured my imagination and so it goes …


Jamie Dedes:

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The Black Silk Route, a poem by Ranjana Sharan Sinha

 

Photograph courtesy of RezviMasood under CC BY-SA 4.0 license
Poverty is the worst form of violence.” Mahatma Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader


Out of the old
sepia-tinted tableau
frozen in my mind,
smoky and blurred,
the bubbly boy
leaps into life amid

tons of skinny children
swarming out of mudhouses
and running behind our blue car
giggling and shouting
in specks of dust!
He hardly knew then
that he was a child
created without a destiny!
.
Unfolding of years
made him struggle hard:
Too little food,
Long hours of work!
Poverty like a woodpecker
hammered into the
tender tree of his body:
Disadvantaged and
out-of-school the boy
suffered timeless traumas!
.
Sick and sorrowful
he was a drawning self–
Arms flailing!
Water splashing!
Many times he spoke
with God and prayed desperately,
but his prayers went unanswered!
.
Then with ascending hands
he looked at the skies–
The clouds were changing colours
like a furious warty chameleon:
White, grey, blue-grey, black–
Yes, black and dark masses
racing and roiling!
He wished to grab the
freedom and power–
Cyclopean and relentless!
.
An avalanche
of anguish and anger,
A giant stride
from the known to the unknown,
A metamorphosis
that transformed
Beige into Black!
.
© 2020, Ranjana Sharan Sinha
.
DR. RANJANA SHARAN SINHA is a professor of English by profession and a poet by passion, Dr. Ranjana Sharan Sinha is a well-known voice in Indian poetry in English.She is an author and a critic,too. Her poems have been included in the university syllabus prescribed for M.A.(English) 4 semester.Poems, fictions and research papers published at national and international levels in highly acclaimed dailies, magazines,e-zines,archives and journals both in print and online.Received a number of awards for her contribution to literature from recognized institutions and publishing houses.She has the privilege of receiving accolade from the former President of lndia, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for her poem ‘Mother Nature’. Authored and published 07 books in different genres and 50 research papers. The books are:1.Spring Zone (A collection of Poems and Haiku)2. Midnight Sun (A Collection of short stories) 3. Nature in the Poetry of William Wordsworth and Sumitra Nandan Pant  (Criticism)4. Feminism:Times and Tides (A historiographical and theoretical commentary on feminism)5. Different Dimensions (A compilation of research papers)6.Scents and Shadows( A collection of 70 poems)7. Rhymes for Children.Presented papers in a number of national and international conferences and seminars.Associated with many literary associations and global poetry groups. Research supervisor RTM Nagpur University, Nagpur. Lives in Nagpur, India.

Jamie Dedes:

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April poems, an homage

Courtesy of Yoksel 🌿 Zok, Unsplash

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” Sonnet XCVIII,  William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets



Second April

April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.

There rings a hammering all day,
And shingles lie about the doors;
From orchards near and far away
The gray wood-pecker taps and bores,
And men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.

The larger streams run still and deep;
Noisy and swift the small brooks run.
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
Go up the hillside in the sun
Pensively; only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep

Edna St. Vincent Milay

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

Lanston Hughes

April

If you had come away with me
into another state
we had been quiet together.
But there the sun coming up
out of the nothing beyond the lake was
too low in the sky,
there was too great a pushing
against him,
too much of sumac buds, pink
in the head
with the clear gum upon them,
too many opening hearts of lilac leaves,
too many, too many swollen
limp poplar tassels on the
bare branches!
It was too strong in the air.
I had no rest against that
springtime!
The pounding of the hoofs on the
raw sods
stayed with me half through the night.
I awoke smiling but tired.

William Carlos Williams

Elegy in April and September
.
Hush, thrush! Hush, missen-thrush, I listen…
I heard the flush of footsteps through the loose leaves,
And a low whistle by the water’s brim.Still! Daffodil! Nay, hail me not so gaily,-
Your gay gold lily daunts me and deceives,
Who follow gleams more golden and more slim.Look, brook! O run and look, O run!
The vain reeds shook? – Yet search till gray sea heaves,
And I will stray among these fields for him.

Gaze, daisy! Stare through haze and glare,
And mark the hazardous stars all dawns and eves,
For my eye withers, and his star wanes dim.

2

Close, rose, and droop, heliotrope,
And shudder, hope! The shattering winter blows.
Drop, heliotrope, and close, rose…

Mourn, corn, and sigh, rye.
Men garner you, but youth’s head lies forlorn.
Sigh, rye, and mourn, corn…

Brood, wood, and muse, yews,
The ways gods use we have not understood.
Muse, yews, and brood, wood..

– Wilfred Owen


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

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The New New Deal

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton