Nuyorican Poets Café

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Nuyorican Poets Café
Nuyorican Poets Cafe in Loisaida section of New York City.jpg
Nuyorican Poets Cafe building on East 3rd St. in Alphabet City
Address236 East 3rd Street
LocationNew York City
Coordinates40°43′19″N 73°58′54″W / 40.721951°N 73.9817816°W / 40.721951; -73.9817816Coordinates: 40°43′19″N 73°58′54″W / 40.721951°N 73.9817816°W / 40.721951; -73.9817816
Public transitSecond Avenue
Opened1975 (1975)

The Nuyorican Poets Cafe is a nonprofit organization in Alphabet City in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It is a bastion of the Nuyorican art movement in New York City, and has become a forum for poetry, music, hip hop, video, visual arts, comedy and theatre.[1] Several events during the PEN World Voices festival are hosted at the cafe.[2]


Founded c. 1973, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe began operating in the East Village apartment of writer, poet, and Rutgers University professor Miguel Algarín with assistance from co-founders Miguel Piñero, Bimbo Rivas, and Lucky Cienfuegos.[1]

By 1975, the number of poets involved with the venture outgrew that space, so Algarín rented an Irish pub, the Sunshine Café on East 6th Street, and they named it "The Nuyorican Poets Cafe". Some of the featured poets at this time included founders Miguel Algarín, Miguel Piñero, Pedro Pietri, Victor Hernández Cruz, Tato Laviera, Piri Thomas, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, and José Angel Figueroa were some of the poets featured during the mid to late 1970s. By 1980, the overflow of audiences led them to purchase their current building at 236 East 3rd Street so as to expand their activities and programs.[1] Among the few early Nuyorican women poets was Sandra María Esteves. A second wave of major Nuyorican Poets, featured at the cafe, emerged including Nancy Mercado, Giannina Braschi, and Martín Espada.

The Nuyorican Poets Cafe counts poetry activists such as Bob Holman, Saul Williams, Sarah Jones, and Beau Sia as former slammasters and was the home to the now mobile New York freestyle battle program Braggin' Rites.

The exterior walls are painted by a local artist "Chico" who has done neighborhood murals for decades. Above the entry doorway hangs Diana Gitesha Hernandez's acrylic painting.

In explaining the philosophy of the venture, co-founder Algarín said: "We must listen to one another. We must respect one another's habits and we must share the truth and the integrity that the voice of the poet so generously provides.[1]

In the 1990s a new group of Nuyorican poets and performing artists emerged to read at the cafe. in 2008, Daniel Gallant was appointed executive director.

In 2015, Carmen was the first full-length opera shown at the cafe, produced by IconoClassic Opera.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

In 1994, Nuyorican Poets Cafe was the subject of a 14-minute documentary entitled Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Directed, produced and edited by Ray Santisteban, the documentary features founder Miguel Algarin along with Willie Perdomo, Ed Morales, Pedro Pietri, and Carmen Bardeguez Brown. Nuyorican Poets Cafe won "Best Documentary" at the 1995 New Latino Filmmaker's Festival in Los Angeles.[4]

In 1996, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Poetry Slam Team was the subject of a feature-length documentary entitled SlamNation. Directed by Paul Devlin, the documentary follows Nuyorican poetry slam founder Bob Holman and the poets of the 1996 Nuyorican team (Saul Williams, Beau Sia, Jessica Care Moore and muMs da Schemer) as they compete in the 1996 National Poetry Slam held in Portland, Oregon. The documentary also features performances by Marc Smith, Taylor Mali, and Patricia Smith among others.[5]

In the 1998 Spanglish novel Yo-Yo Boing! by Giannina Braschi features a dramatic scene of a Spanglish poetry reading at the Nuyorican Poets Café with founder Pedro Pietri who is also a character in the play United States of Banana.[6][7]

In 2001, León Ichaso's film "Piñero" features reenacted scenes of poetry readings by Miguel Piñero of “Seeking the Cause” and “A Lower East Side Poem”; at the end of the film co-founders of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and other prominent poets, including Miguel Algarín, Amiri Baraka, José-Angel Figueroa, and Pedro Pietri, lead a funeral procession and scatter Piñero's ashes on the streets of the Lower East Side.[7]

In 2018, a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, PBS NewsHour featured a special on the diaspora reading at the Nuyorican Poets Café, entitled: "After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rican poets ask again what it means to belong".[8]

List of Poets, Artists, and Musicians[edit]

Spoken word[edit]

Major voices in Nuyorican, Latinx poetry, and other American contemporary poetry movements have performed at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, including:


In June 2002, Nuevo Flamenco guitarists Val Ramos opened for three-time Puerto Rican Grammy nominee Danny Rivera at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.[1] The club also produces Latin Jazz, Reggaeton, Hip Hop, and Salsa events. Performers have included:

Visual arts[edit]

The Nuyorican Poets Cafe produces exhibitions by local Latinx artists including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e About the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
  2. ^ "Pen World Voices Festival 2018 to Convene Writers, Artists, And Thinkers",, March 28, 2018
  3. ^ "Carmen: A Drinking Opera". The Village Voice. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Ray Santisteban", profile at
  5. ^
  6. ^ Stanchich, Maritza. "Bilingual Big Bang: Giannina Braschi’s Trilogy Levels the Spanish-English Playing Field." Poets, Philosophers, Lovers: On the Writings of Giannina Braschi
  7. ^ a b c d
  8. ^
  9. ^ Algarín, Miguel. Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Henry Holt.
  10. ^ S., Sandhuv (June 2016). "Paul Beatty: SLAM Poet". The Guardian.
  11. ^ "Amiri Baraka - "In Town @ the Nuyorican Poets Cafe" - Amiri Baraka". Google Arts & Culture. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  12. ^ Poets, Academy of American. "About Giannina Braschi | Academy of American Poets". Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  13. ^ "Sandra Maria Esteves". Poetry Foundation.
  14. ^ a b "8 Poets Disclose Their Favorite Lines". NBC Latino. April 4, 2013. Nuyorican poets
  15. ^ "Playwright Ishmael Reed On Why He Thinks 'Hamilton' Is a Total Fraud". Observer. 2019-01-15. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  16. ^ Foundation, Poetry (2020-10-10). "Edwin Torres". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  17. ^ "Nuyorican Movement - The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2020-10-10.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]