Miguel Algarín

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Miguel Algarín Jr.
Born (1941-09-11) 11 September 1941 (age 79)
Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico
OccupationPoet, scholar, editor, playwright, translator[1]
NationalityPuerto Rican
Literary movementNuyorican
Notable works"On Call", "Time's Now"/"Ya Es Tiempo"[1]
Notable awardsAmerican Book Award (1980, 1985, 1994), Larry Leon Hamlin Producer's Award, American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement,[1] Obie Award
RelativesMiguel Algarín (father), María Algarín (mother)

Miguel Algarín Jr. (11 September 1941), is a Puerto Rican poet, writer, co-founder of the Nuyorican Poets Café, and retired Rutgers University professor of English.

Early years[edit]

Algarín was born in Santurce,[2] Puerto Rico and was educated and raised in a culturally-minded household. The love for all things involving culture always prevailed in his family. His family and he migrated to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City in 1950.[1] While there he received both his primary and secondary education.[3] Algarín went on to study English at the University of Wisconsin (B.A., 1963) and Pennsylvania State University (M.A., 1965).[2] He also received his PhD in comparative literature at Rutgers University.[1] Teaching English at Brooklyn College and New York University,[2] he developed a love and understanding of the works of Shakespeare. Shakespeare's antique tales were the force which motivated Algarín to strive to one day have a place of his own where he could tell the story of where he lives. Eventually, Algarín became a professor of Shakespeare, creative writing, and United States ethnic literature at Rutgers University.[4][5][6][7][8]

In 1973, Algarín was using the living room of his apartment in Manhattan as a gathering place for poets and artists. By 1975, there were so many poets and artists gathering and reciting their works in the apartment, that Algarín decided to look for a more comfortable location.[4]

Nuyorican Poets Café[edit]

Algarín, Miguel Piñero, Pedro Pietri,[9] and other poets rented a location on East 6th Street and named it the Nuyorican Poets Café. In 1980, Algarín purchased a building on East 3rd Street to expand the café. The Café is now a non-profit organization that offers programs which include poetry and prose readings, theatrical and musical performances, and visual arts exhibits.[5] It is one of the key cultural institutions of the Nuyorican Movement. The Nuyorican Poets Cafe popularized slam poetry.[10]

Nuyorican Poets Café. Photo: Shankbone

The theater has won over 30 "AUDELCO Awards" and was honored with an Obie grant for excellence in theater. Of the screenplays read in the theater, 40 have been turned into films. The Latin jam session which is celebrated at the Café has been a weekly "Critics Choice" at the New York Press for six consecutive years. The Café also has a radio broadcast on WBAI, where Algarín starts the broadcast with his signature "We're live from the Nuyorican Poets Café".[4][5][6]

Algarín played an important role in the spread of Nuyorican literature by compiling, with Miguel Piñero, its first anthology Nuyorican Poetry: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Words and Feelings. He also founded a publishing house called the Nuyorican Press, which only published one book, his own Mongo Affair[2]. He also helped launch Arte Public Press, which became a leading publishing house for Nuyorican works.

Principally known as a poet, Algarín's books include Mongo Affair, On Call (1980), Body Bee Calling from the 21st Century (1982), Time's Now/Ya es tiempo (1985), Love Is Hard Work: Memorias de Loisaida/Poems (1997, Lower East Side Memories/Poems). He has also published anthologies of works that were performed at the Nuyorican Poets Café, including Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café (1994) and, with Bob Holman and Nicole Blackman, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café (1997).[2] He is the editor of Action: The Nuyorican Café Theatre Festival and co-editor of Aloud. Among his award-winning poetry books are Time's Now/Ya Es Tiempo and Love is Hard Work.[6][7][8]


Algarín holds the status of Professor Emeritus for his more than 30 years of service to Rutgers University. He has received three American Book Awards and the Larry Leon Hamlin Producer's Award at the 2001 National Black Festival. In the movie Piñero, about the life of Miguel Piñero, directed by Leon Ichaso and starring Benjamin Bratt, Algarín is portrayed by the actor Giancarlo Esposito. Algarín has received three American Book Awards and became the first Latino to win the Before Columbus Lifetime Achievement American Book Award in 2009.[1][4][5][6][7][8][11]


Algarín retired as professor from Rutgers University,[12] but continues as the executive producer of the Nuyorican Poets Café's theater and is currently working on a piece of literature titled "Dirty Beauty".[4][5][6][7][8]


  • Mongo affair: poems. Nuyorican Poet's Café. 1978. ISBN 978-0-934770-04-0
  • On call. Arte Público Press, Revista chicano-riqueña, University of Houston. 1980. ISBN 978-0-934770-03-3.
  • Body bee calling from the 21st century. Arte Publico Press. 1982. ISBN 978-0-934770-17-0.
  • Time's Now/Ya Es Tiempo. Arte Publico Press. 1985. ISBN 978-0-934770-33-0.
  • Love is hard work: memorias de Loisaida. Scribner. 1997. ISBN 978-0-684-82517-5.
  • Action. Touchstone. 1997. ISBN 978-0-684-82611-0
  • Survival Supervivencia. Arte Publico Press. 2009. ISBN 978-1-611-92299-8


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Urioste, Donaldo W.; Lomelí, Francisco A.; Villaseñor, María Joaquina (2017). Historical Dictionary of U.S. Latino Literature. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 34–35. ISBN 9781442275485.
  2. ^ a b c d e Kanellos, Nicolás (2008). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Latino Literature. Greenwood Press. pp. 63–65.
  3. ^ Urioste, Donaldo W. Historical Dictionary of U.S. Latino Literature. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 34–35.
  4. ^ a b c d e "miguelalgarin". miguelalgarin.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Nuyorican Poets Café". Archived from the original on 27 November 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e "View Current TV's program on Nuyorican Power". Archived from the original on 17 January 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d American Booksellers Association (2013). "The American Book Awards / Before Columbus Foundation [1980–2012]". BookWeb. Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 1981 [...] On Call, Miguel Algarín (mistaken listed as Miguel Alarin) [...] 1986 [...] Time's Now, Miguel Algarín (listed as Miguel Algarin) [...] 1994 [...] Aloud! Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café, edited by Miguel Algarín and Bob Holman (listed as Miguel Algarin) [...] 2009 [...] Lifetime Achievement Award: Miguel Algarín (listed as Miguel Algarin)
  8. ^ a b c d "PUERTO RICO HERALD: A Nuyorican Who Made Himself An East Village Legend". www.puertorico-herald.org.
  9. ^ Foundation, Poetry (30 April 2019). "Miguel Algarín". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  10. ^ Wood, Jamie Martinez (2007). Latino Writers and Journalists. Facts on File. pp. 11–12. ISBN 0816064229.
  11. ^ "Biography /". miguelalgarin. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  12. ^ "To Those Searching for Rutgers's Next President". senate.rutgers.edu.

External links[edit]