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. Piñero 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:

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.

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Speaking in Poetic Tongues: A Salute to Women Activist Poets from Womawords Literary Press

Courtesy of Levi Guzman, Unsplash

“The heart of a women is like an  ocean, thus she must be proffered a free platform to express concerns, to speak rights, to voice against wrongs, to sing experiences and more.” Mbizo Chirasha



Originally published in Cultural Weekly, this is Mbizo Chirasha’s acknowledgement of some of the activist poets featured by Womawords Literary Press, which is dedicated to giving space to the voices of women and girls. I am touched to be counted among them and to be included in Mbizo’s feature here. Womawords Literary Press is also the co-host of The BeZine‘s International Poetry Month April 2020 series of daily poetic offerings in celebration of the month beginning on April 1.  / J.D.

Speaking in poetic tongues is an homage to the evangelists of resistance and poetic prophetesses. The women poet wordslingers wielding their pen weaponry to unchain the world from the pressing yoke of stereotypes and the hard granite rock sufferance perpetuated by unrepentant moral morons.

as we stand the ground of one another’s battles
where peace would be evolutionary and
the unholy alliance of wealth and fear-mongering
might burn itself out, find its way into justice,
but here we are, once again, in thrall to the
sociopaths, they have us bloodied and bound ~
their eyes are the aged face of clockwork orange,
numb to the obscenities of maim and murder …

© Jamie Dedes

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The griot in JAMIE DEDES is dared–daring. The tone as accompanied with the hard- rock verbiage is sarcastic but riotous. Racists are jabbed by defiant swords of satire. Poetry Spaces are poetry washed into oxy-moronic fields of peace. Corrupt landlords, warlords and tyrants are roasted by flames of metaphor. Dedes irony exorcise political demons and rattles the grip of economic dare-devils. Jamie Dedes is a Lebanese-American writer and activist. In another lifetime, she was a columnist, a publicist, and an associate editor to a regional employment publication. She’s had to reinvent herself to accommodate chronic and catastrophic illness, which has her home-bound, often bed-bound. The gift in this is time for literature, her primary passion, and social justice advocacy, her primary mission.


America is a blessing; it is blessed with the gift of word evangelist. It is the land of abundant literary arts culture talent. TRACY YVONNE BREAZILE‘s double edged razor sharp cutting poesy scythes against weeds of earthly stereotypes of political barbarism. Unsparingly ,the razor sharp tip of her poetic machete slice through Africa in quest for the freedom of her earth mates “Zimbabweans,” writhing under the heavy yoke of unbridled corruption as they suffocate from toxic, choking and command politics.

I gather my confusion and stutter my truths,
As you unleash your lightning bolt into the thicket,
Crashing into the night with a raging fire,
I dance with the embers ‘till morning light,
While you devise an avalanche to extinguish the fire,
You dropped your mask and it tumbled to the ground,
In the dust of the avalanche, beneath the rubble of your pedestal,
I will leave you there to mind your mazes,

© Tracy Yvonne Breazile

TRACY YVONNE BREAZILE is a Mentor in Residence of the Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Campaign Projects–Brave Voices Poetry Journal, Word Guerrillas Café and WOMAWORDS Literary Press.


I hear the poetic giggles echoing from beyond century hills reverberating foothills of Kirinyaga Mountains. Nancy Ndeke is an African prophetess, her to poetic tongues echo the foothills of Kirinyaga mountain, her writings are pregnant with African emotion and spiritual resonance. She writes of her kindred, WOMEN with a bold spirit and an aura of sisterly stubbornness. Her pen jives on page leaves like a rock rabbit dancing to earthly acoustics of wind, tree branches and discordant village songs. Ndeke’s poetry is the tenor of deep but soft flowing river, the rhythm abound is undeniably scintillating. You need a calabash of fresh spring water to wash down the poetry dinner of realism, metaphor and satire.

……………Is less of the individual, and
More of the community, meeting as equals,
At the intersection of connectedness
The hubris,
That rules empires with iron tanks and nuclear weapons
The feel good notion,
That sets colors apart in racism,
Are months that blow evil dust on the arena of life’s rainbow
There is no joy whatsoever
In fear, in anger
With greed, with bigotry,
Peace flees,

© Nancy Ndeke

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NANCY NDEKE is a Poet of international acclaim. Her writings and poetry are featured in several collections, anthologies and publications around the globe including the American magazine Wild Fire, Save Africa Anthology, world Federation of Poets in MEXICO.

 

 


The Armenian spirit HOKIS returns the echo with indomitable metaphoric incantations. Here poetry walks confidently in the spirit land. Hokis is the Founder and Senior Editor of Headline Poetry and Art Magazine. She believes in supporting a range of voices at various stages of their craft for this is the most impactful design of grassroots revolutions. She envisions Headline as a platform that exemplifies the beliefs that all poetry is political and reflection is essential to effectively reshape conversations and culture—for writers and readers alike.

the let loose moments
of garbled wrappers and stenched bottles
drizzled over our bedside table
like syrup on empty caloried
memories.

© Hokis

hokis-main-photo


Again, We walk through the holy sands of Cape Verde to harvest voices of souls dead and walking. GLORIA SOPHIA is a deep, versatile and powerful Cape Verde-an poet with three published books and some more contributions in a number of anthologies. The poet is a creative began. She cultivates her creativity with determination and the required zeal. It is very critical to give poets, like Sofia creative spaces suitable platforms for purposes of growing them into literary stardom.

gloria-sofia-cartaz-0

Sun explodes in the sky
Burning the moon
Destroying the eternal blue
Germinates in my womb
Star packed with music It hurts everything
Swollen mother
Wrapped stomach
Blushing breasts
My undulating body

© Gloria Sophia


Nordic Europe have its on share of poetic prophets. Wisdom is not sold but served in cafes, restaurants, galleries and bookshops. DOLORES MEDEN is a versatile and a genius poet who mastered the power of art and the versatility that is found languages. She writes her poetry and translates them herself. She infuses her writings with visual artist’s drawings to bring about to the reader historical references of art, humanity and just life. ALLUSION is one great element of literature and most reader respect reference, history and currency

To read is resistance
to stupidity
to ignorance
to the unhealthy
relationships
you once
escaped from.

© Dolores Menden

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Meden was born in Sweden by Croatian parents and have lived there all her life. A graduate of Bachelor of Arts in History of Religion. She also studied some languages, mostly Slovene and Chinese.


MIRO60

The sun rises from the East and its rays bathe the world. The earth becomes beautiful and creative abundance is gathered to heal the world. MIROSLAVA PANAYOTIVA is one great poet of national and international repute in Bulgaria .Her themes are diverse from nature to confessional poetry, her style unique and her diction versatile. Her verses carry scintillating rhythm.

In the grass of the night,
in the sleeping mystery,
in the expiring pencil
to the blue notebook,
I outline the sunset

© Miroslava Panyotova

MIROSLAVA PANAYOTOVA graduated from the Plovdiv University majoring in Bulgarian philology. Her whole lot of poems, stories, tales, aphorisms, essays, criticisms, translations, articles and interviews in periodicals and collections.

© 2020, introductory text, Mbizo Chirasha; poets poems and photographs are under their own copyright.

Womawords Literary Press is a complex of efforts, the heart-child initiated and curated by Zimbabwean poet activist in exile Mbizo Chirasha (Mbizo, The Black Poet).  You can read an interview of Mbizo on Womawords and the opportunities offered there to women HERE.


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

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

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

Poet Susannah Hart Selected UK’s Prestigious National Poetry Competition Winner

1935. Children playing cards in front yard in slum area near Union Station. Photographer: Carl Mydans / courtesy of the NY Public Library

“‘Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy was a poem that slowly got under our skin and into the bloodstream. It takes on big subjects, cunningly manipulating the impersonal and toneless phrasing of bureaucracy as the poem’s speaker tries to come to terms with evil. This daring poem, literally breath-taking in its execution, is in the form of a single sentence – so perfectly engineered the reader barely notices it. But nonetheless we feel the powerful effect, as it keeps our attention pinned to the poem’s terrible reality without release.” Maurice Riordan



Susannah Hart has been chosen as the winner of the prestigious National Poetry Competition, with her poem Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy.

Judges Mona Arshi, Helen Mort and Maurice Riordan selected the winning poem from 16,659 poems entered into the competition from 6,979 poets in 87 countries, including entries from every EU member state. All of the poems were read anonymously by the judges.

Told in a single long sentence that intensifies the momentum and the sense of building desperation, Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy uses the dispassionate language of bureaucracy and policy to counterbalance the cruelty and descriptions of acts of violence in the poem.

Judge Maurice Riordan said of the poem: “Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy was a poem that slowly got under our skin and into the bloodstream. It takes on big subjects, cunningly manipulating the impersonal and toneless phrasing of bureaucracy as the poem’s speaker tries to come to terms with evil. This daring poem, literally breath-taking in its execution, is in the form of a single sentence – so perfectly engineered the reader barely notices it. But nonetheless we feel the powerful effect, as it keeps our attention pinned to the poem’s terrible reality without release.”

Susannah Hart’s win follows on from her acclaimed debut collection, Out of True, which won the Live Canon First Collection Prize in 2018. Susannah’s poems have been widely published in magazines and online, including Smiths Knoll, Magma, The North, The Rialto and Poetry London.

Susannah said of the win: “It’s a mixture of disbelief and delight. I’m genuinely astonished that I’ve won. I enter the competition almost every year and have been longlisted a couple of times, but you never enter expecting to actually win. I feel very honoured to join the list of winners. For personal reasons, it’s also great to have this particular poem recognised. I’ve been a primary school governor for many years and I think this is the only poem that has arisen directly from that experience, so it feels very special to have that part of my life acknowledged. I remember telling my governor colleagues that I had written a poem about the Safeguarding policy and I think they thought I was joking.”

About the poem, Susannah said: “The poem’s original draft came quite quickly. I did in fact go for a walk after reading the policy, feeling very upset by what it contained – what it needed to contain – and I found myself thinking about ‘all the horrible things that someone somewhere is always doing to someone else’. And then when I looked at the draft of the poem I realised I could make more of the bureaucratic language that was already in there, so I looked again at the wording of the policy and lifted some more phrases from it.”

Since it began in 1978 the National Poetry Competition has been an important milestone in the careers of many of today’s leading poets, with previous winners including Helen Dunmore, Ruth Padel, Philip Gross, Carol Ann Duffy, Jo Shapcott and Tony Harrison.

Internationally praised and recognised, the National Poetry Competition continues to see an increase in entries year-on- year (2019 saw an 18 per cent increase in poems and a 17 per cent increase in entrants compared with 2018). Awarding a total of £9,400 prize money annually, the competition recognises individual poems previously unpublished, in an anonymised judging process. The judges only discover the identity of the winner after making their final decision.

Nine other winners were also named in the National Poetry Competition, including Ann Pelletier-Topping for her poem Granddaughter Moves In (Second Prize, £2,000), Natalie Linh Bolderston for Middle Name with Diacritics (Third Prize, £1,000) and seven commended poets (£200 each): Joe Dunthorne for Due to a series of ill judgements on my part; Charlotte Knight for MOONDADDY; Mark Pajak for Reset; Rosie Shepperd for Letter from Kermanshah; Louisa Adjoa Parker for Kindness; Cheryl Moskowitz for Hotel Grief; and Gerald Smith for Where Dedushka Comes From. All the winning poems will be published on The Poetry Society’s website. The top three poems are also published in the Spring 2020 issue of the leading poetry magazine, The Poetry Review.


First Prize for Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy

SUSANNA HART‘s poems have been widely published in magazines and online, including Smiths Knoll, Magma, The North, The Rialto and Poetry London. She has won several prizes for her work and her debut collection Out of True won the Live Canon First Collection Prize in 2018. Susannah is on the board of Magma. She works as a freelance copywriter and is a long-serving governor at her local primary school. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.

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Poetry by Susannah Hart:


OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS FOR YOU:

The next National Poetry Competition opens in May. Entry forms will be available online HERE. The closing date is 31st October 2020.


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

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

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

Missed Moment, Mind Bumps and Locked Paddocks, a hybrid poem and essay by Mbizo Chirasha

”News is best in its absence if it’s not the birth of a child . . . ” Mbizo Chirasha



Calling the morning with a mournful urgency, sleep fell off the
routine checks of protocol and the gong silently, if urgently,
summoned a sermon of fleeting feet. A son beheld the sun’s shadow with
loving thoughts packed hurriedly into a strained back. The beauty of
smooth roads and distance hills failed dismally to tell the dreams on
a runway refusing crafts to land. Temporariness is a weed with long
tendrils as only those with healthy respect for shadows know. To part
with tomorrow’s hope to the hands of a paid Piper whose mission in
“his appointed career” is to poach livelihoods of passerby’s in quest
for a nights nest on this migratory routine is a pain bordering on a
tooth extraction without anaesthesia. That this accepted sin is
described in business lingo as lucrative is tearing off fresh from the
living and asking to be thanked.

And the revolutionary chant is not over!

Am blind and love it because that way I judge nobody.
Am deaf and trust it because that way I hear only hope from Angels from afar.
Am immune to cold and heat so the elements don’t scare me,
I am a lamp post planted by hands I can only guess at. Am a child and
a man honest enough to acknowledge God exists in the spirit of
creation and the heart of men however few.
When borderslam doors louder than an irate spouse demonstrating
disgust at an assumed slight by love, common sense stirs the soul for
an instinctive triple jump.
Am a son of the South where the sun rises with the song of the hills
and cattle calling milk to duty,
Milk is a source of life and it’s absence is a bitter song that speaks
kwashiorkor and other third rate needs unmet.
Am a product of great souls that the universe unites to clear the
morning smog with a heart’s torch.

And the struggle song is not over!

What is Man but a product of Man?
I refuse to reject humanity and I do it with humility.
Where I am is a location whose dust reminds me of my earliest form and
my final formlessness.
I am a journey on a travel and now is time to chant an old tune,
That no struggle is without cause and course if it’s the one that chose you,
And in the beauty of such times as we are living in, islands within,
Am counting thousands of breaths in gratitude for the spice that life
and living is.
For spice true, is in the variety,
Not only of terrain but of origin,
But also the hand that tended it,
The hand that picked and packed it,
As such,
Making the whole a part of the bits and vice versa.
Cycles refuse to rest, like a month in flight, a soul flies in the
night leaving a sad dream on a prodigal sons wet eyelids,

And the liberation vibe is not far!

Who can say the taste of life is anything but mysterious and hard at its best?
News is best in it’s absence if it’s not the birth of a child,
Am awake to all truths even the most banal and morbid,
Am human enough to weep at wickedness and laugh at jest,
But tell me fair men of this land that “ unlanded” me how to virtually
bury my own,
Tell me like am a three year old how to grieve with dignity this
vehicle that bore me to your shores and must now bid a silent goodbye
in my blinded monastery upon this cavernous existence,
And the redemption thunder is rumbling more closer!!!

Am flesh and flesh has demands to weep and touch it’s own in making
and unmaking,
Who will roll this mist back a day and allow a wish to plan a shared hug?
Am a child of the universe bleeding hard on the winds that make
commandments of demented bafoonery,
I fall on these weakened knees sending this mute anguish up into the
bloated clouds,
If I see tomorrow it’s all because silence has given me a route to
walk in this barren vacuum of misplaced hunger of human touch,
That voices sprout hands that feed my sanity with a purity only angels
know, am grateful,
And some day, when the grass has grown over that mound that settled unto itself,
This boy with a grey beard shall come back to plant a fruit tree on
the home square and name it “ Silver” in honor of all dawns and dusks,
And the tender hands that give me dew upon this journey at the
earliest of arrivals.
Am all that because you are all that, even as you now ride the stars
in the silence of night and the wind of days.
And the revolutionary chanters are chanting still
Its not yet uhuru . . .

Aluta Continua, the fight and chant for freedom continue.

© 2020, Mbizo Chirasha (Mbizo, The Black Poet)

MBIZO CHIRASHA (Mbizo, The Black Poet) is one of the newest members of The BeZine core team. He is the founder of Womawords Literary Press, which is dedicated to giving space to the voices of women and girls and is a partner in The BeZine International Poetry Month,a blog event. He is a multi-award winning poet from Zimbabwe who is on the run. We have been coordinating in the search for safe harbor. In part I am posting this today to remind everyone that while we’ve made progress with funding, we still need to find a host for Mbizo, preferably Germany. Open to suggestion.  Connect with me if you are able to help, have leads, or have questions. You can read more about Mbizo and his story: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Poet Mbizo Chirasha, A Life on the Run, Interview.


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

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

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