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In Visible Movement

Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam

Urayoan Noel

Publication Year: 2014

Since the 1960s, Nuyorican poets have explored and performed Puerto Rican identity both on and off the page. Emerging within and alongside the civil rights movements of the 1960s, the foundational Nuyorican writers sought to counter the ethnic/racial and institutional invisibility of New York City Puerto Ricans by documenting the reality of their communities in innovative and sometimes challenging ways. Since then, Nuyorican poetry has entered the U.S. Latino literary canon and has gained prominence in light of the spoken-word revival of the past two decades, a movement spearheaded by the Nuyorican Poetry Slams of the 1990s. Today, Nuyorican poetry engages with contemporary social issues such as the commodification of the body, the institutionalization of poetry, the gentrification of the barrio, and the national and global marketing of identity. What has not changed is a continued shared investment in a poetics that links the written word and the performing body.

The first book-length study specifically devoted to Nuyorican poetry, In Visible Movement is unique in its historical and formal breadth, ranging from the foundational poets of the 1960s and 1970s to a variety of contemporary poets emerging in and around the Nuyorican Poets Cafe “slam” scene of the 1990s and early 2000s. It also unearths a largely unknown corpus of poetry performances, reading over forty years of Nuyorican poetry at the intersection of the printed and performed word, underscoring the poetry’s links to vernacular and Afro-Puerto Rican performance cultures, from the island’s oral poets to the New York sounds and rhythms of Latin boogaloo, salsa, and hip-hop. With depth and insight, Urayoán Noel analyzes various canonical Nuyorican poems by poets such as Pedro Pietri, Victor Hernández Cruz, Miguel Algarín, Miguel Piñero, Sandra María Esteves, and Tato Laviera. He discusses historically overlooked poets such as Lorraine Sutton, innovative poets typically read outside the Nuyorican tradition such as Frank Lima and Edwin Torres, and a younger generation of Nuyorican-identified poets including Willie Perdomo, María Teresa Mariposa Fernández, and Emanuel Xavier, whose work has received only limited critical consideration. The result is a stunning reflection of how New York Puerto Rican poets have addressed the complexity of identity amid diaspora for over forty years.

Published by: University of Iowa Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

A book such as this one must begin by acknowledging a community of poets. First and foremost, I am grateful to all the Nuyorican poets for teaching this island poet so much about poetry and community. Gracias y aché. More broadly, I am indebted to all the poets, from San Juan to the South Bronx and beyond, who inspired and sustained me through the years— ...

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Introduction - Nuyorican Counterpolitics

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pp. xiii-xxxvi

What does it mean to belong? This question is central to contemporary figurations of social identity in a variety of cultural and artistic productions, and it has recently acquired a renewed urgency in the United States in light of the nation’s changing demographics and the nativist backlash surrounding such issues as immigration and national security. ...

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One - The Unseen Scene: Movement Poetics and the In/Visibility of Diaspora

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pp. 1-40

Puerto Rican poets were at the forefront of the (counter)cultural ferment of 1960s New York City and, as epitomized by Pedro Pietri’s epochal performances with the Young Lords, they were central to the Puerto Rican Movement. From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, Puerto Rican poets were also involved in a variety of artistic and activist initiatives— ...

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Two - Resiting the Street: Performance and Institutional Politics in and beyond the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

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pp. 41-82

The performance of poetry has been a critically underappreciated aspect of U.S. Latino/a cultural politics, yet, as Cristina Beltrán contends in The Trouble with Unity (2010), there is much to be gained by a reexamination of the role of poetry readings and performances within the Puerto Rican and Chicano Movements as “practices of identification” (75). ...

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Three - Embodied or Incorporated? From Nuyorican Poetry to U.S. Latino/a Literature

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pp. 83-122

The early 1980s were a transitional time, as New York City struggled to recover from a financial crisis and as the countercultural movements and outlaw poetics of the 1960s and 1970s gave way to the age of Reagan and the AIDS crisis. These tensions and transitions would prove to have a significant impact on the Lower East Side. ...

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Four - Counter/Public Address: Nuyorican Poets in the Slam Era

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pp. 123-164

In 1989, shortly after Miguel Piñero’s death and in honor of his memory, Miguel Algarín reopened the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in its present location, at 236 East 3rd Street between Avenues B and C. Soon, the Cafe was in the midst of a renaissance, having become the home for a younger, multicultural generation of poets. ...

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Afterword: Representing the City

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pp. 165-176

The work of Nuyorican poets, from the 1960s to the slam era, helps us appreciate the complexities of representation. Their work is representational in a traditional sense, documenting a personal and social city, but also in the positional sense put forward by Hall, tied to a “notion of identity as contradictory, as composed of more than one discourse, as composed always across the silences of the other, ...


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pp. 177-196


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pp. 197-216


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pp. 217-228

Series Page

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E-ISBN-13: 9781609382544
E-ISBN-10: 1609382544
Print-ISBN-13: 9781609382445
Print-ISBN-10: 1609382447

Page Count: 268
Publication Year: 2014

Edition: paper