Nuyorican Movement

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Nuyorican Movement
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Nuyorican Poets Café

The Nuyorican Movement is a cultural and intellectual movement involving poets, writers, musicians and artists who are Puerto Rican or of Puerto Rican descent, who live in or near New York City, and either call themselves or are known as Nuyoricans.[1] It originated in the late 1960s and early 1970s in neighborhoods such as Loisaida, East Harlem, Williamsburg, and the South Bronx as a means to validate Puerto Rican experience in the United States, particularly for poor and working-class people who suffered from marginalization, ostracism, and discrimination.

The term Nuyorican was originally used as an insult until leading artists such as Miguel Algarín reclaimed it and transformed its meaning. Key cultural organizations such as the Nuyorican Poets Café and CHARAS/El Bohio in the Lower East Side, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Agüeybaná Bookstore, Mixta Gallery, Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center, El Museo del Barrio, and El Maestro were some of the institutional manifestations of this movement. The next generation of Nuyorican cultural hubs include, Camaradas El Barrio in Spanish Harlem. Social and political counterparts to those establishments in late 1960s and 70s New York include the Young Lords and ASPIRA.

Literature and poetry[edit]

The Nuyorican Movement significantly influenced Puerto Rican literature, spurring themes such as cultural identity and discrimination.[2] The Nuyorican Poets Café, a non-profit organization in Alphabet City, Manhattan, founded by Miguel Piñero, Miguel Algarín, Pedro Pietri, Lucky Cienfuegos and Richard August is a bastion of the Nuyorican Movement. Modern day notable Nuyorican poets include Willie Perdomo, Edwin Torres (poet), Nancy Mercado, Lemon Andersen, Bonafide Rojas, Emanuel Xavier, Mariposa (María Teresa Fernández) and Caridad de la Luz (La Bruja), among others. Current organizations include The Acentos Foundation originally based in the Bronx, New York City which publishes poetry, fiction, memoir, interviews, translations, and artwork by emerging and established Latino/a writers and artists four times a year through The Acentos Review, and Capicu Cultural Showcase based in Brooklyn, New York City which has produced live poetry and cultural events inspired by the original Nuyorican Poets traditions since 2007.[citation needed]


Nuyorican music became popular in the 1960s with the recordings of Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va" [3][better source needed] and Ray Barretto's "El Watusi" and incorporated Spanglish lyrics.[4]

Latin bands who had formerly played the imported styles of cha-cha-cha or charanga began to develop their own unique Nuyorican music style by adding flutes and violins to their orchestras. This new style came to be known as the Latin boogaloo. Some of the musicians who helped develop this unique music were Joe Cuba with "Bang Bang",[5] Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz with "Mr. Trumpet Man", and the brothers Charlie and Eddie Palmieri.[1] Subsequently, Nuyorican music has evolved into Latin rap, freestyle music, rap, Latin house, salsa, Nuyorican Soul, and reggaeton.

The development of the Nuyorican music can be seen in salsa and hip hop music. Musician and singer Willie Colón shows this diaspora in his salsa music by blending the sounds of the trombone, an instrument popular in the New York urban scene, and the cuatro, an instrument native to Puerto Rico and prevalent in salsa music. Furthermore, many salsa songs address this diaspora and relationship between the homeland, in this case Puerto Rico, and the migrant community, New York City.[1] Some see the positives and negatives in this exchange, but often the homeland questions the cultural authenticity of the migrants. In salsa music, the same occurs. The Puerto Ricans question the validity and authenticity of the music. Today, salsa music has expanded to incorporate the sounds of Africa, Cuba, and other Latin American countries, creating more of a salsa fusion. In addition, with the second and third generations of Nuyoricans, the new debated and diasporic sound is hip hop. With hip hop, Nuyoricans gave back to Puerto Rico with rappers like Vico C and Big Pun, who created music that people in both New York and Puerto Rico could relate to and identify with. Other notable Puerto Ricans who made contributions to hip-hop were DJ Disco Wiz, Prince Whipper Whip, DJ Charlie Chase, Tony Touch, Tego Calderon, Fat Joe, Jim Jones, N.O.R.E., Joell Ortiz, and Lloyd Banks. Currently groups like Circa '95 (PattyDukes & RephStar) are continuing the traditions as torchbearers of the Nuyorican Hip-Hop movement. Thus the musical relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico has become a circular exchange and blended fusion, as embodied in the name Nuyorican.[1]

Playwrights and theater companies[edit]

Spanish-language Puerto Rican writers such as René Marqués who wrote about the immigrant experience can be considered as antecedents of Nuyorican movement. Marqués's best-known play The Oxcart (La Carreta) traces the life of a Puerto Rican family who moved from the countryside to San Juan and then to New York, only to realize that they would rather live a poor life in Puerto Rico than face discrimination in the United States.[6] Puerto Rican actress Míriam Colón founded The Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre in 1967 precisely after a successful run of The Oxcart.[7][8] Her company gives young actors the opportunity to participate in its productions. Some of PRTT's productions, such as Edward Gallardo's Simpson Street concern life in a New York's ghettos.[9][better source needed] Other theater companies include Pregones Theater, established in 1979 in the Bronx and currently directed by Rosalba Rolón, Alvan Colón-Lespier, and Jorge Merced.[10][11]

Playwrights who pioneered the Nuyorican movement include Pedro Pietri, Miguel Piñero, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, and Tato Laviera, and now include younger artists such as Migdalia Cruz, Edwin Sánchez and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Piñero became an acclaimed playwright with Short Eyes, a drama about prison life which received a Tony Award nomination and won an Obie Award. Candido Tirado and Carmen Rivera, Obie Award-winner for her play La Gringa; and Judge Edwin Torres wrote Carlito's Way, the saga of a Puerto Rican drug dealer which eventually became a Hollywood film.[12][better source needed] Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Tony-Award winning actor and playwright best known for the musicals In the Heights and Hamilton.

Currently, spaces such as B.A.A.D. (the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance),[13] established in 1998 by the dancer and choreographer Arthur Aviles and the writer Charles Rice-González in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx, provide numerous Nuyorican, Latina/o, and queer of color artists and writers with a space to present and develop their work.[14] Many additional groups use the two theaters at the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center in Loisaida for their events.[15][not in citation given]

Visual arts[edit]

The Nuyorican Movement has always included a strong visual arts component, including arts education. Pioneer Raphael Montañez Ortiz established El Museo del Barrio in 1969 as a way to promote Nuyorican art. Painters and print makers such as Rafael Tufiño, Fernando Salicrup, Marcos Dimas, and Nitza Tufiño established organizations such as Taller Boricua.[16] Writers and poets such as Sandra María Esteves and Nicholasa Mohr alternated and complemented their prose and lyrical compositions with visual images on paper. At other times, experimental artists such as Adal Maldonado (better known as Adál) collaborated with poets such as Pedro Pietri. During this time, the gay Chinese American painter Martin Wong collaborated with his lover Miguel Piñero; one of their collaborations is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[17] In the 1970s and 1980s, graffiti-inspired artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat achieved great recognition for their work. Installation artists such as Antonio Martorell and Pepon Osorio created (and continue to create) environments that bring together local aesthetic practices with political and social concerns. Since 1993, the Organization of Puerto Rican Artists (better known by its acronym O.P. Art) has opened a space for Puerto Rican visual artists in New York, particularly through its events at the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center in the Lower East Side.[18][not in citation given]

More recently painters and muralists such as James De La Vega, Miguel Luciano, Miguelangel Ruiz and Sofia Maldonado have continued to expand and explore this tradition. The work of galerists, curators and museum directors such as Marvette Pérez, Yasmin Ramírez, Deborah Cullen, Susana Torruella Leval, Judith Escalona, Tanya Torres, and Chino Garcia has also contributed to this effort and helped Puerto Rican and Nuyorican art gain more recognition.

Nuyorican writers and poets[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Allatson, Paul (2007). Key Terms in Latino/a Cultural and Literary Studies. Wiley. ISBN 1405102500. 
  2. ^ "Puerto Rican Literature, Art & Culture". La Salita Cafe. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Awards and Medals from Smithsonian Archived June 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Grammy-winning Latin-jazz drummer Ray Barretto dies at 76". Houston Chronicle. February 17, 2006. 
  5. ^ "Ahh Beep Beep". Streetplay Stickball.  External link in |website= (help); |section= ignored (help)
  6. ^ Polio, Norine (1982). "An Analysis of "The Oxcart" by René Marqués, Puerto Rican Playwright". Society and Literature in Latin America. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. 
  7. ^ De la Roche, Elisa (July 1, 1995). Teatro Hispano!: Three Major New York Companies. Studies in American Popular History and Culture. Routledge. ISBN 081531986X. 
  8. ^ Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre Home Page
  9. ^ Simpson Street Archived May 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Vásquez, Eva C (2003). Pregones Theatre: A Theatre for Social Change in the South Bronx. Routledge. ISBN 0415946751. 
  11. ^ Pregones Theater Home Page
  12. ^ PUERTO RICO HERALD Puerto Rico Profile: Judge Edwin Torres Archived November 13, 2004, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance Home Page
  14. ^ La Rocco, Claudia (May 22, 2008). "In Bronx, Dancer Does Right Thing". The New York Times.  |section= ignored (help)
  15. ^ Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center Home Page
  16. ^ Taller Boricua Home Page
  17. ^ Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Martin Wong (American, 1946–1999), Attorney Street (Handball Court with Autobiographical Poem by Piñero)."
  18. ^ Organization of Puerto Rican Artists Home Page.
  19. ^ "Revista, Harvard Review of Latin America". 2000. ”Giannina Braschi, a celebrated member of the Nuyorican Poets group” 
  20. ^ "Giannina Braschi". National Book Festival. Library of Congress. 2012. ’Braschi: one of the most revolutionary voices in Latin America today’ 
  21. ^ "About Giannina Braschi: Book Fest 12". National Book Festival Transcript and Webcast. Washington, DC: Library of Congress. September 2012. ’Braschi, a poet, essayist and novelist often described as cutting-edge, influential and even revolutionary’ 
  22. ^ Johnson, Hannah (May 26, 2011). "#BEA11: Books on Display, the Amazon Publishing Booth". Publishing Perspectives. ’Braschi is Puerto Rico's most influential and versatile writer of poetry, fiction, and essays’ 
  23. ^ "'About Giannina Braschi'". University of Oklahoma: World Literature Today. September–October 2012. 'One of the most revolutionary voices in Latin American' 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Life and Flow

Further reading[edit]

  • Allatson, Paul. Key Terms in Latino/a Cultural and Literary Studies. Blackwell Publishing, 2007.
  • Dávila, Arlene. Barrio Dreams: Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and the Neoliberal City. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. ISBN 0-520-24092-8
  • Flores, Juan. "Creolite in the 'Hood: Diaspora as Source and Challenge. CENTRO Journal 16, no. 2 (Fall 2004):283–289.
  • Flores, Juan. Divided Borders: Essays on Puerto Rican Identity. Houston: Arte Público Press, 1993. ISBN 1-55885-046-5
  • Flores, Juan. From Bomba to Hip-hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-231-11076-6
  • La Fountain-Stokes, Lawrence M. Queer Ricans: Cultures and Sexualities in the Diaspora. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8166-4091-1
  • Negrón-Muntaner, Frances. Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture. New York: New York University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8147-5817-7
  • Noel, Urayoan. In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam. Iowa City: U. of Iowa Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1-60938-244-5
  • Rivera, Raquel Z. New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. ISBN 1-4039-6044-5
  • Sánchez-González, Lisa. Boricua Literature: A Literary History of the Puerto Rican Diaspora. New York: New York University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8147-3146-5
  • Sandoval-Sánchez, Alberto. José, Can You See?: Latinos on and off Broadway. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1999. ISBN 0-299-16200-1
  • Torres-Padilla, Jose L. and Carmen Haydee Rivera. Writing Off the Hyphen: New Critical Perspectives on the Literature of the Puerto Rican Diaspora]. Seattle: U. of Washington Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-295-98824-5

External links[edit]