Introduction to Latina and Latino Literature/Jack Agüeros

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Jack Agüeros[edit]

Brief Biography[edit]

Jack Agüeros was born on September 2, 1934, in East Harlem. He was a community activist, poet, writer, translator, and the former director of El Museo del Barrio. His father, Joaquín, who had been a police officer in Puerto Rico, worked in factories and as a merchant seaman after coming to New York. His mother, Carmen, was a seamstress.[1] After serving for four years in the United States Air Force as a guided missile instructor, he attended Brooklyn College on the G.I. Bill, intending to become an engineer. However, inspired by Bernard Grebanier, a charismatic professor of English, and his lectures on Shakespeare, Agüeros began writing plays and poems, and instead graduated with a B.A. in English literature and a minor in speech and theater. The talented author wrote his first poems and plays while still a student at Brooklyn College, receiving his first literary awards there. He continued to write while working as a community activist in the 1960s and early 1970s.[2] In 1973, Agüeros won a Council on Interracial Books for Children (CIBC) literary award in what was the CIBC's fifth annual contest. Founded in 1965, one of the CIBC's goals was to promote a literature for children that better reflects the realities of a multicultural society.In parallel, Agüeros wrote plays, several of which ran off Broadway. Awoke One was produced at the Ensemble Studio Theatre in 1992; The Sea of Chairs was produced by the Medicine Show Theatre Ensemble in 1993; and Love Thy Neighbor was produced at HERE Theatre in 1994.[3] Jack Agüeros is one of the most accomplished and versatile of all Latino writers. Consider the range of his production in the last thirty years: poetry, short fiction, translation, plays, essays, theatre criticism, journalism, scriptwriting, childrens' stories. He has received grants and awards in three different disciplines--for poetry, fiction, and playwriting--which is a rare feat indeed. He has served the community since the 1960s as a political activist and cultural worker, directing the only Puerto Rican museum on the mainland for almost a decade. Agüeros married three times and had three children and three grandchildren. Agüeros was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in December 2004. He died on May 4, 2014, from complications related to Alzheimer's. His brain was donated to the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center. [4]


Place in Latina/o Literature[edit]

The author played a big role in advocating Latino and Latinas Literature and had his own unique place in the literature.A writer for the stage and television as well as a poet, his work deals with the complexities, challenges, and struggles of the Puerto Rican experience in America. He served as director of El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem for nearly a decade, advocating the inclusion of Puerto Rican artists into the American art world of the 1970s.In 1973, Agüeros won a Council on Interracial Books for Children (CIBC) literary award in what was the CIBC's fifth annual contest. Founded in 1965, one of the CIBC's goals was to promote a literature for children that better reflects the realities of a multicultural society. Also, Agüeros's play, The News from Puerto Rico, won the McDonald's Latino Dramatist Competition in 1989.

Comparison to Other Latino/a authors[edit]

Jack Agüero's work can be compared to author Tomas Rivera because they were both passionate writers and community activists who partook in councils to improve education, life and basic needs for minority groups. Just like Jack Agüeros, Thomas Rivera deeply valued higher education for Latino/a communities and His career played as an encouragement for other Latina/o authors to publish their works, spread their culture and speak about the hard and unfair life their community people have to go through. Tomas Rivera’s poems, writings touch every Chicano and Chicana developing proud and strong love toward their talented people and their strong culture. Jack Agüeros dedicated his career in developing Latina and Latino literature and Tomas River is another author who contributed to that project.

Analysis of Specific Texts[edit]

“Dominoes” written by Jack Agüeros is a short story that illustrates some traits of Puerto Rican culture. The New York Puerto Rican culture in which "Dominoes" takes place is the same culture in which Agüeros was born and raised. It is exhibited by a game of dominoes played by four men in Harlem, NYC. This story is told from the third person narrator point of view and readers learn about the feelings and thoughts of Alma and Ebarito only and for others we may observe by their actions and dialog only. The fact that Ebarito is the main viewpoint character helps to establish the idea that he is the odd man out in the group of four. The tension in the story builds through his thoughts and feelings, which reveal his growing frustration and resentment. The narrator describes the four guys, dominoes playing the game with their own unique style. The author represents the difference between Alma and Ebarito in order to illustrate the difference between female and male views and perspectives. Ebarito is the epitome of the mach Puerto Rican male and that game for him signify manhood. The fact that Ebarito, despite the fact that holds six dominoes he wishes to have more, he wishes he could have hold seven at once, shows how dominant his character is, how he abuses the power of “macho” wanting to have and control all, including the games.

Literary Criticism[edit]

Bibliography of Secondary Sources[edit]

 Kihss, Peter (1967-07-28). "Puerto Ricans Lay Inaction to Mayor; Puerto Ricans Accuse the Mayor Of Inaction on Their Proposals." The New York Times.

 Dominoes and Other Stories from the Puerto Rican .Curbstone Books. 1995. Print ISBN-13: 9781880684115

 González, David (2008-03-20). "A Puerto Rican Poet's Last Fight With Alzheimer's." The New York Times

Miscellaneous Links[edit]

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/06/nyregion/jack-agueros-79-a-champion-of-el-barrio-dies.html

http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/jack-ag%C3%BCeros

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/20/a-puerto-rican-poets-last-fight-with-alzheimers/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

http://www.jackagueros.com/

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/jack-agueros#about

http://www.encyclopedia.com/

http://www.martinespada.net/JACK_AGUEROS.html

References[edit]