There are many facets to the Puertorican experience in the United States and that of New York Puertoricans or, Nuyoricans, represent some of the most glittering ones. From Tito Puente to The Young Lords, from West Side Story to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Nuyorican experience has given to the United States a wealth of social, cultural and political gifts. Poetry is another rich contribution. At Manhattan´s lower east side, the Nuyorican Poets Café has been a beacon for the expression of Puertorican poetry and culture since the early 1970s. With distinctive work and a vibrant spirit led by Miguel Algarín (one of its founders),Sandra María Esteves, Pedro Pietri, Tato Laviera, Miguel Piñero, and Jesus Papoleto Melendez, a new and exciting style of poetry developed there, influenced by Beat poetics, the African-American experience and the urban displacement so many had endured in their family’s move to the urban northeast. It remains a famous literary destination in the city with many young poets and rappers getting their start there and is visited by people from around the world.
An Interview with El Barrio’s Poet Laureate: Jesus “Papoleto” Melendez