Introduction to Latina and Latino Literature/Miguel Piñero
Miguel Piñero[edit | edit source]
Brief Biography[edit | edit source]
Miguel Piñero was a Puerto Rican playwright, poet, actor and Co-founder of Nuyorican Poets café. He was born in Guarabo Puerto Rico on December 19, 1946 to Miguel Angel Gomez Ramos and Adelina Piñero. He died June 16, 1988 due to liver cirrhosis. At a very early age, he moved to “Loisaida” also known as the lower east side, where his father abandoned their family whiles his mother was pregnant with his fifth sibling. Piñero started stealing food for his family by age eleven and by age fourteen he joined a gang called the Dragons and started hustling on the street.
In 1972, Piñero was incarcerated at age twenty five in Sing Sing prison for an armed robbery. One of his first literary works was written while serving time in prison. He wrote the play “Short Eyes” as part of a writing workshop held in the prison. When he left Sing Sing due to parole in 1973, he was capable to present “Short Eyes”, which comes from the slang for child molesting, "short heist." The play is based on his experiences in prison and portrays life, love and death among prison inmates. The play was nominated for six Tony Awards and 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 and became the first play written by a Puerto Rican to be put on Broadway.
In the 1970s, Miguel Piñero was the Co-founder along with Miguel Algarin of Nuyorican poets’ café, which is a nonprofit organization in Alphabet city, Manhattan. The café is a place to perform heartfelt poetry and real life experiences of Nuyorican lifestyle, Puerto Ricans in New York.
Piñero died on June 16th, 1988 in New York City and his ashes were scattered across the Lower East Side of Manhattan considering his poem “A Lower East side poem”. His life was made into a movie, titled “Piñero” played by Benjamin Bratt.
Place in Latina/o LIterature[edit | edit source]
Analysis of Specific Texts[edit | edit source]
"A Lower East Side Poem": Outlaw: The collected works of Miguel Piñero included “A lower east side poem” which is one of the most favored literary works of all times by Miguel Piñero. As a child of the streets, who engaged with gangs, fights and drugs at an early age Piñero represents the proud aspects of being raised in the lower east side. Its shows Pinero's love and pride for his neighborhood and his community, despite the criminal activities taken place.
Comparison to Other Latina/o Author[edit | edit source]
Miguel Piñero and Piri Thomas were influential authors in the Nuyorican literary movement who wrote short poems and stories of real life experiences, using a mix of American and Latino heritage. Both artists focus on the cultural and intellectual movement involving other poets, writers and musicians who are Puerto Rican living in New York City. These works of art primarily focus on the experiences of the poor, lower class, working families who suffered from discrimination and poverty amongst Latino neighborhoods and strived for a better future.