On Thursday, November 20th, poet and scholar Tomás Urayoán-Noel presented his book In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (University of Iowa Press, 2014) at Hunter College, the first scholarly book published specifically about Nuyorican poetry. Prof. Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé introduced the author and spoke about the context of the book in our Nuyorican history.
Cruz-Malavé also praised Urayoan’s writing and intense research work. “Urayoán Noel’s In Visible Movement sets out to identify and analyze how New York Puerto Rican or Nuyorican poets have negotiated the disparate and mutually contradictory ways that were meant to render them silent, to annihilate them, by wittily and astutely articulating the fragmented, dislocated, and blurred, in-between pieces of their lives in virtuoso contrapuntal expressions where language is mediated through the body and constantly displaced on and off the page to other alternative linguistic, musical, visual, and corporal registers, intonations, mannerisms, vocalizations, gestures, and indeed sweat,” said Cruz-Malavé..
Urayoán was moved and inspired by Malave’s introduction and also by the presence among the audience of Nuyorican poets such as Jesús “Papoleto” Melendez, whom Urayoán interviewed for the book. Urayoán read excerpts from Papoleto’s “Message to Urban Sightseers”, a poem written by a 17-year old Papoleto in 1967. He asked Papoleto to perform the same poem, which he did to the audience’s captive attention. Part of Urayoán’s presentation was a conversation with Papoleto and poet and educator Bonafide Rojas, who was also in the audience.
To demonstrate the role of poetry’s social impact, Urayoán showed the audience Lah Tere’s “Crush” music video as an example of contemporary poetry that reaches a wide audience and is still pure in its social activism. Lah Tere is an activist, writer and performer, and her video takes place in the traditionally Puerto Rican neighborhood of Humboldt Park in Chicago.
The event concluded with a Q&A session, during which Urayoán shared the fact that interviews with poets were a necessary tool to get details about a subject that had not been adequately studied. Also he indicated that online publications, such as YouTube videos, were instrumental in his research. Other discussions included concerns about the condition of poetry programs in our schools today and the unemployment of poets due to circumstances including a lack of funding for artists.
If you missed this presentation, stay tuned to Centro’s YouTube channel where the event will be posted shortly.
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