Week of February 26 (Both class sections): Miguel Pinero’s Short Eyes

short_eyes

Announcements:

  • Continue the first written assignment due Tuesday March 5. 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. Also see the resources on the assignments page for some quick MLA formatting tips.
  • New York City has a special election on Tuesday February 26 for Public Advocate to replace (Lehman alum!) Tish James, who resigned after winning the election for State Attorney General. Same polling place as you usually go to. WNYC Radio’s Gothamist news site has a good overview of all the candidates and election info. You can also go to the Board of Elections website.

Recap from this week’s classes:

  • See my lecture notes on Piñero on the Lecture Notes page
  • Finished Piñero’s poetry

For Tuesday February 26th, Read “The Drama of Miguel Piñero” at the front of Outlaw and then read Act 1 of Piñero’s play Short Eyes (pages 193-215). 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?

For Thursday February 28th, Read Act 2 /Finish Miguel Piñero’s play Short Eyes (pages 215-243).

Also 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:

  • How does the setting shape the characters’ actions in the play?
  • [More to come]

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.

 

 

After this, we’ll move to the first novel of the semester: Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams.

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 19 (Both class sections): Miguel Piñero’s Poetry

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Announcements:

  • We finalized the schedule for group presentations in Thursday’s class. If you’ve somehow missed signing up for a group, email me immediately to get that straightened out.
  • The assignment sheet for the first paper was handed out on Thursday. Download it from the Assignments Page if you were absent/lost yours.
  • I’ll be speaking on a panel on Black-Puerto Rican solidarity on Saturday 2/16 at the Holyrood Episcopal Church in Washington Heights. Details here.

Recap from this week’s class:

  • Finished Pedro Pietri’s Puerto Rican Obituary

Tuesday, February 19th: We move on to Miguel Piñero and read poetry selections from the book 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 Lower East Side is Taking” (p. 65!)
  • “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.

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”

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

Thursday, February 21st: We continue with Miguel Piñero’s poetry from Outlaw: The Collected Works. Read the following:

  • “Mango Dreams”
  • “Bastard Streets”
  • “New York City Hard Times Blues”
  • “And Then Came Freedom to Dream”
  • “Running Scared”
  • “Seeking the Cause”

Also read the Introduction to the “Drama of Miguel Piñero” in the front of Outlaw

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.

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?

Week of February 12: (Both class sections) Pedro Pietri continued

On Tuesday 2/12 there are no classes scheduled (PDF!) for Lincoln’s Birthday.

For Thursday 2/14, (happy Valentine’s Day!) we continue with Pedro Pietri…

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

Continue Pedro Pietri’s poetry from the book Puerto Rican Obituary from the same PDF on the Readings page as last week. (Re?)Read “Puerto Rican Obituary” and “The Broken English Dream”. Also read “Suicide Note from a Cockroach”, “Love Poem for My People”, “Unemployed” and “OD”.

Now that we’ve covered some of Pietri’s life, think about how points from his personal outlook on religion, death, and the ambivalence toward the American Dream are reflected in the poems. Again, look for specific points that reveal how he approaches the subjects and make a note of them.

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.
  • Look for an update early next week for the following reading assignment, though note that we’ll be moving on to Piñero’s Outlaw, so be sure to get a copy.

Announcements:

  • If you missed class on Thursday 2/7, email me to choose a date for a group presentation.
  • Look for an update next week for the following reading assignment, though note that we’ll be moving on to Piñero’s Outlaw, so be sure to get a copy.

Recap from this week’s classes:

  • Finished the Juan Flores essay (See the Readings page for a PDF)
  • Skimmed Pedro Pietri’s interview (PDF also on the Readings page) and made connections to Pietri’s poetry
  • Started Puerto Rican Obituary (PDF also on the Readings page)
  • Signed up for group presentation dates

Week of February 5: (Both class sections) Juan Flores and Pedro Pietri

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

Hi everyone,

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

  • You might find it helpful to subscribe to new posts for this site: use the e-mail sign-up form on the main page.
  • If you’re new to the class, welcome! Be sure to carefully review class policies on the syllabus, especially absences and screens in the classroom (they’re not allowed at all).
  • Also see the introductory post for some reading questions for Juan Flores’s essay

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

For Tuesday 2/5:

  • Review the key points of the Juan Flores essay that we covered Thursday: the points he makes here are key to the course.
    • What’s the relationship Flores poses between Caribbean communities in New York City and how does he see this as an alternative model to the Melting Pot Theory?
  • Read the interview with Pedro Pietri (PDF on the Readings page).
  • Apply Flores’s points to Pietri’s interview: that is, see if you can see similarities between Pietri’s life story and Flores’s points.
    • What seem to be key events in Pietri’s life?
    • How do those events seem to affect his outlook on the world?
    • How do those events seem to affect his poetry?
    • What’s his view of organized religion?

Think about the questions above as you read and take notes on them.

Highlights from 1/29 and 1/31 classes

  • Reviewed syllabus and course policies
  • Started Juan Flores’s essay “The Structuring of Puerto Rican Identity”

For Thursday 2/7, we’ll turn to readings from the Pedro Pietri’s Puerto Rican Obituary PDF (also posted on the Readings page)

. Read the following 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.
  • What connections do you see between the poem, Juan Flores’s essay, and the interview?

Welcome to Spring 2019! (BOTH class sections): Week of January 29

Homer-1st-day

Hi everyone,

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

  • You might find it helpful to subscribe to new posts for this site: use the e-mail sign-up form on the main page.
  • Make a plan for getting the assigned books for the course. If you’re planning on ordering them online, then get them now so you’ll have them when needed. Also note that the campus bookstore returns unsold copies about halfway through the semester.
  • If you missed the first class (or lost your copy–it happens!) grab a copy of the syllabus

For Thursday 1/31, 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 does Flores’s essay 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 four points of contact or “four moments” that Flores identifies in his essay?
  • How do these “moments” explain how we interact with the urban space?
  • Do you notice any similarities or connections with your own family’s experience or those of friends?

 

Week of December 4: (Night class) Assata conclusion

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Announcements

  • The last written assignment of the semester on Angie Cruz’s Soledad is due Tuesday December 4. See the assignments page if you’ve misplaced your copy of the instruction sheet.
  • UPDATE: Fixed dates for the reading schedule below!

Also take a look at a general guide I’ve written up for final exams: “Zen and the Art of Finals” (PDF).

This week we finish our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur. For Tuesday December 4, read chapters 10-14 (pages 185-215) in Assata.

Pay close attention to the following:

  • Poems: “To My Mama” (193). Again, what do they add to the narrative? What insight do they give you about Assata’s inner thoughts?
  • What spaces/ neighborhoods does she move through? Note them and how each of them either shapes the story and what it means to Assata.
  • Keep track of major themes that emerge in the story as you read. It’s a good idea to mark examples of them in the text and make a small note in your notebook.
  • Finally, go back through your notes and start making a list of all the themes that we’ve seen this semester. It will be a good start to preparing for the final.

For Thursday December 6 finish Assata: pages 216-end of book (chapters 15-Postscript). Be sure to read the Postscript with her reflections on Havana! (Skip ahead if you must.) Again, make sure to pay attention to the various poems she includes in the story on pages 240 (“Current Events”), 259 (“To My Daughter Kakuya”), and 263 (“The Tradition”). Think also about the themes that we’ve been talking about so far and how Assata’s work fits into the context of urban narratives and themes of identity, survival, freedom, immigration/migration, return home, urban space, etc. What’s the significance of the story ending in Cuba and how does Assata adjust to her new home?

Presentation by Darlene Kriston, Tyrone, and Ashley

Consider this prep for the final exam. If you read this carefully, it’s one less thing you’ll need to study!

Looking ahead:

  • The last regular class of the semester is Tuesday December 11
  • We’ll have a formal review session in the last class on December 11
  • The final exam for your section is on Thursday December 20 from 8-10 PM in the usual classroom

Week of December 4: (Day class) Assata conclusion

220px-Assatabio

Announcements

  • The last written assignment of the semester on Angie Cruz’s Soledad is due Tuesday December 4. See the assignments page if you’ve misplaced your copy of the instruction sheet.
  • UPDATE: Fixed dates for the reading schedule below!

Also take a look at a general guide I’ve written up for final exams: “Zen and the Art of Finals” (PDF).

This week we finish our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur. For Tuesday December 4, read chapters 10-14 (pages 185-215) in Assata.

Pay close attention to the following:

  • Poems: Again, what do they add to the narrative? What insight do they give you about Assata’s inner thoughts?
  • What spaces/ neighborhoods does she move through? Note them and how each of them either shapes the story and what it means to Assata.
  • Keep track of major themes that emerge in the story as you read. It’s a good idea to mark examples of them in the text and make a small note in your notebook.
  • Finally, go back through your notes and start making a list of all the themes that we’ve seen this semester. It will be a good start to preparing for the final.

For Thursday December 6 finish Assata: pages 216-end of book (chapters 15-Postscript). Be sure to read the Postscript with her reflections on Havana! (Skip ahead if you must.) Again, make sure to pay attention to the various poems she includes in the story on pages 240 (“Current Events”), 259 (“To My Daughter Kakuya”), and 263 (“The Tradition”). Think also about the themes that we’ve been talking about so far and how Assata’s work fits into the context of urban narratives and themes of identity, survival, freedom, immigration/migration, return home, urban space, etc. What’s the significance of the story ending in Cuba and how does Assata adjust to her new home?

Presentation by Nadia, Kat, Adrianna, and Kim

Consider this prep for the final exam. If you read this carefully, it’s one less thing you’ll need to study!

Looking ahead:

  • Finish Assata on Thursday December 6
  • The last regular class of the semester is Tuesday December 11
  • We’ll have a formal review session in the last class on December 11
  • The final exam for your section is on Tuesday December 18 3:45-5:45 PM in the usual classroom