Week of February 3rd

Pedro Pietri reading at the Poetry Project
Pedro Pietri reading at the Poetry Project

First, some logistical points:

  • Please sign up for the class text message service if you haven’t yet. Details are on the syllabus or here (PDF):UrbanWrt_Remind101
  • Also, subscribing to the website updates (see box on the right of the course home page) will get you notifications as soon as I do a new post
  • Next week, we move on to a significant poet and key person in defining the Nuyorican movement: Pedro Pietri

    On Monday February 3rd, I’ll be doing a lecture at SUNY New Paltz, so class will not meet. Use the time to catch up on the reading for Wednesday, (which is longer than usual) and (re?)read the Juan Flores essay that we covered Wednesday 1/29: the points he makes here are key to the course.

    On Wednesday February 5th Read the interview with Pedro Pietri and the section from his book Puerto Rican Obituary, both posted on the Readings page. There are 2 separate PDFs. Read the interview first, then read the poems. Focus on the following poems: “Puerto Rican Obituary”, “The Broken English Dream”, “Suicide Note from a Cockroach”, and “Love Poem for My People”. Note: “Puerto Rican Obituary” is both the title of his most well-known poem and the title of the book it’s from.

    Watch Pietri read “Puerto Rican Obituary” here

    … and here:

    Think of the following questions as you read:

  • How does Pietri’s writing define the urban experience for the people he’s writing about?
  • What type of urban environment does he describe?
  • What language does he use and how does that reflect the urban situation?
  • Do you see any of the points Pietri makes in the interview reflected in the writing? Make note of a few examples.
  • Welcome to Spring 2014!


    Hi everyone,

    First a few housekeeping things before we get to the assignment itself.

  • Remember to sign up for the class text message service from Remind101; see instructions on the syllabus
  • You’ll also find it helpful to subscribe to new posts for this site: use the e-mail sign-up form on the main page.
  • Don’t forget to hit the bookstore (or your online vendor of choice) and pick up the course books. If you’re low on cash, we’re starting with Miguel Piñero’s Outlaw, followed by Baraka’s Dutchman and The Slave.
  • For Wednesday January 29th, read Juan Flores’s “The Structuring of Puerto Rican Identity in the US”, from his book Divided Borders. The PDF is on the Readings page. (Password hint: what year is it?)

    Also watch this Youtube video of poet Tato Laviera reading his classic poem AmeRican, which Flores references on the last page. (The audio quality isn’t great, so you’ll have to listen carefully.)

    Also listen to Felipe Luciano read his poem “Jibaro, My Pretty Nigger”.

    Things to think about while reading/ watching:

  • How do these begin to define Nuyorican identity and carve out a specific space in the city landscape?
  • What’s the language used in the poems and who might it appeal to?
  • What are the points of contact that Flores identifies in his essay?
  • Looking ahead to next week, I’ll be away Monday, February 3rd, so class will not meet. We’ll meet as scheduled on Wednesday the 5th. Check back here for the assignment later this week.

    Also there is a tribute to the late writers and activists Amiri Baraka and Jayne Cortez next Tuesday evening at NYU. Details are here. Extra credit is available if you’re motivated. Talk to me for details.

    Feel free to contact me with questions or comments.