Tato Laviera

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Tato Laviera
Tato Laviera.jpg
Born Jesús Abraham Laviera Sánchez
(1950-05-09)May 9, 1950
Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Died November 1, 2013(2013-11-01) (aged 63)
Manhattan, New York
Occupation Poet
Literary movement Nuyorican

Abraham "Tato" Laviera (May 9, 1950 – November 1, 2013) was an acclaimed Nuyorican poet.[1] An obituary for NBC Latino describes him as "one of the greatest representatives of the Nuyorican movement."[2]

Life and Work[edit]

Born in Puerto Rico, Laviera moved to New York City with his family in 1960. He studied at Cornell University and Brooklyn College, but never graduated. He later became the director of the “University of the Streets,” as well as teaching at Rutgers University.[3]

Laviera's poetry, which is written sometimes in Spanish, sometimes in English, more often in Spanglish, addresses language, cultural identity, race, and memory, particularly as it affects the transculturated lives of Puerto Ricans in the United States.

Scholar William Luis describes Laviera's work as follows: "His poetry is full of the music of bomba and plena, and of rap and preaching. However, it is also socially minded and historical in content. Indeed, his poems are a conglomeration of voices, songs, dialects, and cultures producing a unique synthesis which is moving, instructive, and aesthetically appealing".[4]

Nicolás Kanellos's Hispanic Literature of the United States: A Comprehensive Reference describes him as "the inheritor of the Spanish oral tradition, with all of its classical formulas, and the African oral tradition, with its wedding to music and spirituality."[5]

Following some years of financial and health problems,[6] Laviera died on November 1, 2013, from complications of diabetes.

List of works[edit]

  • La Carreta Made a U-Turn (Houston: Arte Público Press, 1979)
  • AmeRícan (Houston: Arte Público Press, 1985)
  • Enclave (Houston: Arte Público Press, 1985)
  • Mainstream Ethics-Etica Corriente (Houston: Arte Público Press, 1988)
  • Mixturao and Other Poems (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2008–09)


  1. ^ Gonzalez 2013. Note that other sources give his year of birth as 1951, and occasionally his date of birth as September 5. But the NYT obituarist reports that the date, May 9, 1950, was that provided by Laviera's family.
  2. ^ Remeseira 2013
  3. ^ Remeseira 2013
  4. ^ Luis 1992, p. 1022
  5. ^ Kanellos, N. (2003). Hispanic Literature of the United States: A Comprehensive Reference. Greenwood Press. p. 114. ISBN 9781573565585. Retrieved 2015-04-13. 
  6. ^ Gonzalez, David (February 12, 2010). "Poet Spans Two Worlds, but Has a Home in Neither". The New York Times. 

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

  • Biography from the Heath Anthology of American Literature
  • Rivera Santos, Odilia (July 11, 2012), "An Interview with Tato Laviera, the King of Nuyorican Poetical Migrations", Latino Rebels