Week of February 27 (NIGHT class): Short Eyes and Bodega Dreams

short_eyes

Announcements:

  • Keep (start?) working on the first written assignment that’s due Friday 3/9. (Note that this is a change from the date listed on the syllabus!) See the Assignments page for it if you’ve misplaced your copy. (Re)Read the assignment sheet thoroughly and make sure you understand what I’m asking. There are no trick questions here: I’m looking for exactly what’s on there. Now is also the time to schedule time with Lehman’s ACE Center if you’re not totally confident about your writing ability.

Recap from this week’s class:

  • See my lecture notes on Piñero on the Lecture Notes page
  • Intro to Short Eyes and historical contexts
  • See the short background clip on the 1971 Attica prison rebellion

Tuesday February 27: Finish reading Piñero’s play Short Eyes (pages 193-243 in Outlaw) and watch the film version embedded below. Short Eyes is set entirely in a prison (actually a house of detention: think Riker’s Island). Think about what the setting means and how characters react to it. Also consider how Piñero’s own experience and outlook on life shape what and who he writes about.

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 similarities or differences do you see with his poetry?
  • 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?

Watch the film version of Piñero’s Short Eyes (1978). Piñero has a few scenes in the beginning as the fictional character Go Go. The famous soul vocalist Curtis Mayfield has a part also in addition to creating the soundtrack.

 

 

For Thursday, March 1, we’ll move to the first novel of the semester. Read pages 1-54 in Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams.

A few things to pay attention to in the book are:

  • The characters Quiñonez creates and what slice of city life they show
  • How urban space is shown in the book and what different characters think about their surroundings
  • The role of culture and what it means
  • Quiñonez’s relationship as a writer to Pietri and Piñero (there are numerous references to both and their poetry throughout the book)
  • The “American Dream” and what it means to the characters in the book
  • How different generations of immigrants/migrants relate to the city and city life
  • Race and gender relations

This isn’t a complete list, but these are a few key things that jump out at me. Begin to look for connections/ similarities / differences in things we’ve read (and other things you’ve read/ watched /studied in other classes, etc).

If you keep up with the weekly reading and take good notes, then you’ll be well prepared for the midterm and final exam and get much more out of the class!

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Week of February 27 (DAY class): Short Eyes and Bodega Dreams

short_eyes

Announcements:

  • Keep (start?) working on the first written assignment due Friday March 9. See the Assignments page for it if you’ve misplaced your copy. (Re)Read the assignment sheet thoroughly and make sure you understand what I’m asking. There are no trick questions here: I’m looking for exactly what’s on there. Now is also the time to schedule time with Lehman’s ACE Center if you’re not totally confident about your writing ability.

Recap from this week’s class:

  • See my lecture notes on Piñero on the Lecture Notes page
  • Intro to Short Eyes and historical contexts
  • See the short background clip on the 1971 Attica prison rebellion

Tuesday February 27: Finish reading Piñero’s play Short Eyes (pages 193-243 in Outlaw) and watch the film version embedded below. Short Eyes is set entirely in a prison (actually a house of detention: think Riker’s Island). Think about what the setting means and how characters react to it. Also consider how Piñero’s own experience and outlook on life shape what and who he writes about.

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 similarities or differences do you see with his poetry?
  • 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?

Watch the film version of Piñero’s Short Eyes (1978). Piñero has a few scenes in the beginning as the fictional character Go Go. The famous soul vocalist Curtis Mayfield has a part also in addition to creating the soundtrack.

 

 

For Thursday, March 1, we’ll move to the first novel of the semester. Read pages 1-54 in Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams.

A few things to pay attention to in the book are:

  • The characters Quiñonez creates and what slice of city life they show
  • How urban space is shown in the book and what different characters think about their surroundings
  • The role of culture and what it means
  • Quiñonez’s relationship as a writer to Pietri and Piñero (there are numerous references to both and their poetry throughout the book)
  • The “American Dream” and what it means to the characters in the book
  • How different generations of immigrants/migrants relate to the city and city life
  • Race and gender relations

This isn’t a complete list, but these are a few key things that jump out at me. Begin to look for connections/ similarities / differences in things we’ve read (and other things you’ve read/ watched /studied in other classes, etc).

If you keep up with the weekly reading and take good notes, then you’ll be well prepared for the midterm and final exam and get much more out of the class!

Week of February 20 (NIGHT class): Miguel Piñero’s Plays: Short Eyes

short_eyes

Announcements:

  • Next Tuesday is a Monday schedule in CUNY, so we only meet Thursday.
  • Also: you should have signed up for a group presentation in class. If you haven’t, contact me immediately. I’ll send an email to connect all the members and some additional instructions within the next week. Instruction sheet is on the assignments page
  • If you missed class on Thursday 2/15 see the assignments page for the first written assignment, due Friday March 9 via email

Tuesday 2/20: Monday schedule–class doesn’t meet. 

Thursday 2/22: Read “The Drama of Miguel Piñero” at the front of Outlaw and then read Piñero’s play Short Eyes (pages 193-243). Short Eyes is set entirely in a prison (actually a house of detention: think Riker’s Island). Think about what the setting means and how characters react to it. Also consider how Piñero’s own experience and outlook on life shape what and who he writes about. Note: there’s a glossary at the end of the play–use it for unfamiliar terms.

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 similarities or differences do you see with his poetry?
  • 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?

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).

Watch the preview for a 2012 production of the play in Los Angeles.

If you keep up with the weekly reading and take good notes, then you’ll be well prepared for the midterm and final exam and get much more out of the class!

Week of February 20 (DAY class): Miguel Piñero’s Plays: Short Eyes

short_eyes

Announcements:

  • Next Tuesday is a Monday schedule in CUNY, so we only meet Thursday.
  • Also: you should have signed up for a group presentation in class. If you haven’t, contact me immediately. I’ll send an email to connect all the members and some additional instructions within the next week. Instruction sheet is on the assignments page
  • If you missed class on Thursday 2/15 see the assignments page for the first written assignment, due Friday March 9 via email

Tuesday 2/20: Monday schedule–class doesn’t meet. 

Thursday 2/22: Read “The Drama of Miguel Piñero” at the front of Outlaw and then read Piñero’s play Short Eyes (pages 193-243). Short Eyes is set entirely in a prison (actually a house of detention: think Riker’s Island). Think about what the setting means and how characters react to it. Also consider how Piñero’s own experience and outlook on life shape what and who he writes about. Note: there’s a glossary at the end of the play–use it for unfamiliar terms.

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 similarities or differences do you see with his poetry?
  • 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?

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).

Watch the preview for a 2012 production of the play in Los Angeles.

If you keep up with the weekly reading and take good notes, then you’ll be well prepared for the midterm and final exam and get much more out of the class!

Week of February 13 (NIGHT Class): Miguel Piñero’s Poetry

201206181054540.Miguel_Pi_ero_noticel
Announcements: We did a sign up for a group presentations in Thursday’s class. Be sure to email me or sign up on Tuesday if you missed class. Look through the syllabus and think about what you might be interested in. Options are Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman, Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams, Angie Cruz’s Soledad, or Assata Shakur’s autobiography.

Tuesday, February 13th: We move on to Miguel Piñero and read poetry selections from Outlaw: The Collected Works. Read 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”. (Up to page 17.)

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. As with Pietri, while reading the intro at the beginning of the book with Piñero’s bio, look for cues from his life story that show how he approached his writing.

Questions to think about as you read:

  • Based on Piñero’s biographical story, how do/don’t 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

For Thursday 2/15, read the following poems from Outlaw:

  • “Running Scared”,
  • “Seeking the Cause”,
  • “New York City Hard Times Blues”,
  • “Bastard Streets”, and
  • “The Lower East Side is Taking”

Again, it’s not a lot of reading, but you need to read the poems slowly and carefully. Take good notes and think about the questions above as you read.

If you keep up with the weekly reading and take good notes, then you’ll be well prepared for the midterm and final exam and get much more out of the class!

Watch Piñero read “Seeking the Cause”

Week of February 13 (DAY Class): Miguel Piñero’s Poetry

201206181054540.Miguel_Pi_ero_noticel
Announcements: We’ll be signing up for a group presentations in next Tuesday’s class. Look through the syllabus and think about what you might be interested in. Options are Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman, Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams, Angie Cruz’s Soledad, or Assata Shakur’s autobiography.

Tuesday, February 13th: We move on to Miguel Piñero and read poetry selections from Outlaw: The Collected Works. Read 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”. (Up to page 17.)

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. As with Pietri, while reading the intro at the beginning of the book with Piñero’s bio, look for cues from his life story that show how he approached his writing.

Questions to think about as you read:

  • Based on Piñero’s biographical story, how do/don’t 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

For Thursday 2/15, read the following poems from Outlaw:

  • “Running Scared”,
  • “Seeking the Cause”,
  • “New York City Hard Times Blues”,
  • “Bastard Streets”, and
  • “The Lower East Side is Taking”

Again, it’s not a lot of reading, but you need to read the poems slowly and carefully. Take good notes and think about the questions above as you read.

If you keep up with the weekly reading and take good notes, then you’ll be well prepared for the midterm and final exam and get much more out of the class!

Watch Piñero read “Seeking the Cause”

Week of February 6: (NIGHT Class) Pedro Pietri

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.

  • Remember to sign up for the class text message service from Remind if you haven’t done so already. Send a text to 81010 with the message “@urbanwrite” to sign up. If that doesn’t work, send a text with the message “@urbanwrt2” to (608)-467-4328.
  • If you do not have a cell phone capable of text messages, sign up for email notifications at: rmd.at/urbanwrite
  • 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.

We now move on to a significant poet and key person in defining the Nuyorican movement: Pedro Pietri

For Tuesday 2/6:

  • review the key points of the Juan Flores essay that we covered Thursday: the points he makes here are key to the course.
  • Read the interview with Pedro Pietri (PDF on the Readings page). Read this first.
  • Next, start on the section from his book Puerto Rican Obituary, also posted on the Readings page as a separate PDF. Focus on the poems:”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) and “The Broken English Dream”. Be sure to read “Puerto Rican Obituary” slowly and carefully.

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.
  • Do points from the interview and poems reflect Flores’s “4 moments”? Make notes of points that do. Highlight/underline and mark specific passages in the readings.

For Thursday 2/8, we’ll continue with readings from the same Puerto Rican Obituary PDF. Read the following poems:

  • “Unemployed,”
  • “Suicide Note from a Cockroach,”
  • “Love Poem for My People,”
  • “OD”

The poems are short, but you’ll have to read them slowly and carefully and take good notes. Focus on the same points as above and think about how Pietri’s work describes the urban experience in general and tells stories of Puerto Rican communities in particular. Also, what similarities do you see between his work and other urban narratives from TV, film, or music?