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The Legacy of Tato Laviera

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
6:00 - 8:00 PM
Hunter College’s 68th Street Campus
Faculty Dining Room, West Building, 8th Floor

The Legacy of Tato Laviera: The AmeRícan Poet Meet the Author And Book Launch The AmeRícan Poet: Essays of the Work of Tato Laviera

Join us for a conversation on the legacy of beloved Nuyorican poet Tato Laviera and for the April 29 launch of Centro’s newest publication The AmeRícan Poet: Essays on the Work of Tato Laviera, edited by Stephanie Alvarez and William Luis, which features some of the most accomplished writers in the field, who help shine new light on Laviera’s literary and social importance



As the AmeRícan poet, the book confirms Laviera’s much deserved reputation as a major poet in any language rather than as the more limited Nuyorican writer. In the collection of 13 essays and the introduction and a foreword by 15 established and emerging scholars, Laviera, who passed away last year, is more appropriately celebrated as an AmeRícan writer of national and international prominence. In a testimonial featured on the book’s back cover, Jose L. Torres Padilla of SUNY Plattsburgh and co-editor of Writing Off the Hyphen: New Critical Perspectives on the Literature of the Puerto Rican Diaspora, states that the collection “represents a fitting celebration of Tato Laviera…

Collectively, the essays present Laviera in his most multi-faceted light: poet and playwright; activist; community leader; master teacher; a spiritual, compassionate and generous citizen of the world…This is an exceptional, engaging, informative scholarly anthology that honors both Tato Laviera’s life and work.” The essays discuss diverse aspects of Laviera’s life and substantial body of work that includes five published collections of poetry, 12 written and staged plays, and many years of political, social, literary and healthcare activism. They focus on Laviera’s use of language; relationship to writers from the island (Luis Palés Matos, José Luis González, and Luis Muñoz Marín) and mainland (Langston Hughes and Walt Whit- man); his concern for mestizaje (mixed race); Afro-Latinoness; music, sound and rhythm; utopian spaces; code switching; Civil Rights and feminist movements; Mexican migrant students and homeless people. Uniquely, the anthology features a testimonio (testimony) composed of excerpts of interviews Laviera did with different sources and in which the author speaks in English, Spanish and Spanglish, four unpublished poems and the play King of Cans.

Centro’s Meet the Author is free and open to the public. Xavier Totti, editor of the CENTRO Journal, will moderate the conversation on The AmeRícan Poet: Essays on the Work of Tato Laviera. The co-editors, Alvarez and Luis, will be presenters.

Alvarez is assistant professor of Spanish and director of Mexican American Studies and at The University of Texas-Pan American. She was co-founder with Tato Laviera and José Martinez of Cosecant Voices: Documenting the Lives of Migrant Farmworker Students. She is the author of several essays on and the confluence of Latino/a identity, language, literature, culture, education and empowerment in various books and journals, such as Hispania, Journal of Latinos and Education and the CENTRO Journal.

Luis is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Spanish at Vanderbilt University. The director of Vanderbilt’s Latino and Latina Studies Program and editor of the Afro-Hispanic Review, Luis is widely regarded as a leading authority on Latin American, Caribbean, Afro-Hispanic, and Latino U.S. literatures.

Vanessa Pérez Rosario, assistant professor of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College and editor of Hispanic Caribbean Literature of Migration: Narratives of Displacement (Palgrave 2010), will serve as commentator.

Evelyn Collazo, Centro events coordinator, said the Meet the Author would be of interest to poets, writers, scholars, students, cultural workers, artists, activists and anyone who knew Laviera. “It is a unique opportunity to learn more about Laviera and his writings from those who have studied and written about his work and legacy,” she said.