Nuyorican Archives

In 1973, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe opened its doors in New York City's Lower East Side. Founded by Miguel Piñero, Miguel Algarín, Pedro Pietri, Sandra Maria Esteves, and others, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe was both incubator and center stage for the voices of the 1970’s Nuyorican literary movement. Throughout the years, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe has embraced and displayed its Puerto Rican roots and distinctly New York culture. This exhibition celebrates the Nuyorican identity and heritage, and highlights works by founders of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe as well as their successors.

Los Vejigantes by Samuel LindNuyorican Poets Cafe

This 1986 painting, a gift to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, depicts the Puerto Rican folkloric characters, “los vejigantes.” These characters are adorned in bright, multi-colored jumpsuits and capes. All wear detailed masks with horns and distinctly stylized masks, traditionally made from coconut husk and bamboo. In front of an out-of-focus backdrop, it is clear the focal point is los vejigantes, many of whom have their arms outstretched in celebration. Los vejigantes have a long history in the 400-year tradition of the Fiesta de Santiago Apóstol in Loíza, Puerto Rico. Around the season of Lent, people dress as these folkloric characters in a celebration that mixes religion and folklore and exemplifies Puerto Rico’s deep roots in Taíno and African culture.

The artist, Samuel Lind, is a notable figure in Puerto Rican art as a painter and sculptor who heralds the rich heritage of Puerto Rico, firm in its Taíno and African tradition.

Máscaras de Santiago by Samuel LindNuyorican Poets Cafe

This 1992 painting, a gift to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, is an illustration of two men dressed as knights against a dry landscape in Loíza, Puerto Rico. They wear stylized uniforms of pastel blue, yellow and pink with holstered swords. They are honoring the patron saint of Loíza, Santiago during the Fiesta de Santiago Apóstol. This painting includes an inscription in the bottom right corner which reads, “Para una amiga de Chicago con aferto Nanette” or “For a friend from Chicago, with affection, Nanette.” This painting was bought by and dedicated to the painter’s friend, “Nanette.”

The artist, Samuel Lind, is a notable figure in Puerto Rican art as a painter and sculptor who heralds the rich heritage of Puerto Rico, firm in its Taíno and African tradition.

Miguelito Pinero’s Random Thoughts and Walking Poetry (1985-09)Nuyorican Poets Cafe

This compilation of Miguel Piñero’s poetry and thoughts, published September 1985, offers an exclusive look into the poet and playwright’s societal concerns. His works address “king heroin,” alcohol, love and “Nuyorican faith.” He grieves over unrecognized dreams, of hopelessness, of reality.

Slide Show Promotional Poster, performed at La Tea CSV Cultural Center (1996-07) by Miguel PiñeroNuyorican Poets Cafe

Originally written in 1974 by Miguel Piñero, the play “Slide Show” was promoted with this poster. “Slide Show” was performed in 1996 at La Tea, a performance space for Spanish and english productions.

Powerful Voices (circa 200s) by Andres GallardoNuyorican Poets Cafe

This painting by Andres Gallardo was gifted to The Nuyorican Poets Cafe. The people featured in the painting are slam poets that have performed at the Nuyorican. The poets featured are Mahogany Brown, Carvens Dissa, Saul Williams, Falu, Aja Monet, and Joshua Bennett. All six poets are painted in black and white, within a grid layout, surrounded by blue and silver graffiti. each poet’s name is featured next to their profile.

Wilson Chembo Corniel and Grupo Chaworo at The Nuyorican Cafe - Latin Jazz Alive n Kickin clipNuyorican Poets Cafe

In this video, Grammy nominated Wilson Chembo Corniel, known as the Master of the Tumbadoras, performs at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe with Grupo Chaworo in 2005. He performs alongside saxophonist Ivan Renta, keyboardist enrique Haneine, bassist Carlos DeRosa, and drummer Vince Cherico. They exemplify the iconic Latin Jazz genre, masterfully capturing the fused rhythms.

2003 NuyoricanNationalSlamTeam (2003) by Clare UltimoNuyorican Poets Cafe

This photo depicts the 2003 Nuyorican Slam Team featuring (from left to right) Jive Poetic; Julian Curry, 2003 Grand Slam Champion, Karen Jaime, Nuyorican Slam Hostess; Anacoana, Team Alternate; Felice Belle, Team Coach; Kenaya and Carlos Gomez. Poetry Slam has a rich cultural history at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe for catapulting poetry that is of and by the people. Figures who continue this legacy are included in this photo.

Nuyorican Poets Cafe: Miguel Pinero (1970) by PosterNuyorican Poets Cafe

This is a poster for Miguel Pinero’s performance at “The Shuttle Theatre". Miguel Piñero was a poet, playwright, actor and co-founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. As a leading member of the Nuyorican literary movement, Piñero rooted his work in his Puerto Rican heritage, his life in the calloused streets of the Lower east Side and his transformative time in prison.

2000 Slambook: "Nuyorican Original" (2000) by Verb on AsphaltNuyorican Poets Cafe

This Slambook includes the work of the Miguel Algarín, poet and co-found of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe; Lois Griffin, author; and Steve Cannon, playwright, novelist and essayist. Poetry Slam has a rich cultural history at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe for catapulting poetry that is truly of and by the people. Figures who established and continue this legacy are included in this book.

1998 National Slam Competion 3 (1998) by Artist UnknownNuyorican Poets Cafe

1998 Slam team with Miguel Algarín. This 1998 Nuyorican Slam Team was the first slam team from The Nuyorican Poets Cafe to win a National Poetry Slam. The National Poetry Slam of 1998 was held in Austin, Texas.

Short Eyes movie poster (1977) by LSC&P DESIGN GROUP, INCNuyorican Poets Cafe

Original Copy of Short eyes Movie Poster. Short eyes was written by playwright Miguel Piñero and was originally shown off-Broadway in 1974. In 1977, the film adaptation of Short eyes, written by Miguel Piñero and directed by Robert M. Young, was released. Short eyes is one of Miguel Piñero’s finest works that is still shown and studied today.

Nuyorican Proclamation (1980) by UnknownNuyorican Poets Cafe

This Proclamation was given to The Nuyorican Poets Cafe from the President of the Borough of Manhattan, David N. Dinkins on October 31, 1989. It was also received the same day The Nuyorican Poets Cafe re-opened with the help of a community development grant. The Proclamation was given under the circumstances that The Nuyorican Poets Cafe served the Lower east Side of Manhattan for 16 years and heavily promoted Latino Poetry, Theatre, music, and arts.

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