Monthly Archives: February 2017

March 2nd: Nuyorican Drama – Miguel Piñero’s Short Eyes

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For Thursday, March 2nd read “The Drama of Miguel Piñero” at the front of Outlaw and read Piñero’s play Short Eyes (pages 193-243).
Questions to think about to guide your reading:

  • What characters does he show in the play?
  • What language does he use and what effect does that have?
  • What audiences do you think Piñero is writing for?
  • What’s the setting he chooses and what side of the city does that show?
  • What are some of the key themes the play deals with?
  • Identify key points of the play where the storyline (plot) turns or changes. Mark significant points where this happens in your book and write them down in your notes. What causes the plot turns and how might actors on stage make them believable?

    Also remember that we have unannounced pop quizzes, so keep up with the reading!

    Watch the legendary singer Curtis Mayfield sing one of the songs from the film version (he also had a small part in the film and composed/performed the soundtrack).

Week of February 23: Miguel Piñero’s Poetry

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Announcement: Next week, we’ll do sign-ups for group presentations in class. Spend a little time looking over the rest of the books and think about what you might want to present on.

For Thursday, February 23rd, we move on to Miguel Piñero and read poetry selections from Outlaw: The Collected Works. Start by reading the “Introduction to the Poetry of Miguel Piñero” at the beginning of the book.

Then read:

  • “La Bodega Sold Dreams”,
  • “A Lower East Side Poem”,
  • “The Book of Genesis According to San Miguelito”,
  • “This is Not the Place Where I Was Born”,
  • “Black Woman With the Blond Wig On”,
  • “Kill, Kill, Kill”.
  • “Running Scared”
  • “Seeking the Cause”
  • “New York City Hard Times Blues”
  • “Bastard Streets”
  • “The Lower East Side is Taking”It’s not a lot of reading, however, you must read the poems slowly and carefully and choose 2 of them to read more than once. Take notes on key points that you think are significant, funny, interesting, or do a nice job of telling the story of the city. Spend extra time on “La Bodega Sold Dreams” and “A Lower East Side Poem”.Questions to think about as you read:
  • Based on Piñero’s biographical context, how do his stories match the life he’s living?
  • How does Piñero’s work differ from Pietri’s in form or content?
  • What language does he use and what effect does that have on his poetry?
  • What audiences do you think Piñero is writing for?
  • How do the characters in Piñero’s descriptions of “Loisaida” (Lower East Side) differ from Pietri’s characters in El Barrio?
  • What picture is Piñero drawing of his neighborhood?
  • What makes his writing urban? Is it the language? Characters? Settings? Something else?Watch Piñero read “Seeking the Cause”

Assignment for Thursday 2/16

Pedro Pietri reading at the Poetry Project

Pedro Pietri reading at the Poetry Project

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

  • With the snow day this week, we’re a little behind. We’ll combine the reading due this week (Juan Flores’s “Structuring of Puerto Rican Identity”) and Pedro Pietri readings. Scroll down for details and reading questions.
  • For the new people this week (welcome!) — Remember to sign up for the class text message service from Remind. 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.
  • Review the presentation I made in the first class on analyzing texts. It’s on the Lecture Notes page.
  •  
    For Thursday 2/16, We now move on to a significant poet and key person in defining the Nuyorican movement: Pedro Pietri.
     

  • There are 3 separate PDF readings we’ll be covering. All are posted on the Readings page). (Password hint: what year is it?) Please bring all of them with you.
  • Review the key points of the Juan Flores essay assigned for this week — “The Structuring of Puerto Rican Identity in the US”, from his book Divided Borders — the points he makes here are key to the course.
  • Next skim the interview with Pietri. The PDF is also on the Readings page.
  • Then, start on the section from Pietri’s book Puerto Rican Obituary, also posted on the Readings page as a separate PDF. Focus on the poem: “Puerto Rican Obituary” (Note: “Puerto Rican Obituary” is both the title of his most well-known poem and the title of the book it’s from). Be sure to read “Puerto Rican Obituary” slowly and carefully. Optional (from the same PDF file): “Unemployed,” “The Broken English Dream,” “Suicide Note from a Cockroach,” “Love Poem for My People,” and “OD”.
  •  
    Watch Pietri read “Puerto Rican Obituary” here

    … and here:


     
    Think about 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.
  • How are points from his personal outlook on religion, death, and the ambivalence toward the American Dream are reflected in the poems?
  • Use Flores’s essay to analyze Pietri. Which of Flores’s points do you see (or not) reflected in Pietri’s poems? Highlight/underline specific examples.
  • Welcome to Spring 2017! Assignment for February 9th

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    Photo: Where the spring ’17 class lives, visualized

    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 Remind. 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.
  • Review the presentation I made in the first class on analyzing texts. It’s on the Lecture Notes page.

    For Thursday February 9th, 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:

  • What are the points of contact that Flores identifies in his essay?
  • How do these points of contact explain how we interact with the urban space?
  • 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?
  • After that, read the interview with Pedro Pietri (PDF on the Readings page). Pietri is one of the key figures in the Nuyorican movement. Think about the following:

  • How does Pietri’s life intersect with the points Juan Flores makes in his essay?
  • How does the influence of the city affect Pietri’s writing and life?