As part of the art faculty at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, I created the school’s first-ever digital poetry anthology that represents the students in the Literary Media and Communications Department. Here’s an excerpt from my introduction:
The online anthology derived its name from the famed print anthology Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café, which has a range of voices that came out of what the New York Observer once called “a big, dark, brick-walled loft on Third Street and Avenue C.”
Founded around 1973, the Nuyorican Poets Café is a non-profit organization that started in Miguel Algarin’s East Village apartment, according to various sources.
An overflow of poets and audience members eventually led the writer, poet, and Rutgers University professor to move the café to its current location in Alphabet City, Manhattan. The café’s cofounders, according to those same sources, include the late-poet Miguel Pinero, Bimbo Rivas and Lucky Cienfuegoes.
Since its founding, the Nuyorican Poets Café’s been a source of support for the Nuyorican arts movement and is a venue for poetry, music, hip hop, video, visual arts, comedy and theatre. “The philosophy and purpose of the…Café has always been to reveal poetry as a living art,” Miguel Algarin writes in Aloud’s intro. “Poetry is not finding its way, it has found its way, back into everyday life.”
It’s in the tradition of those Nuyorican poets that the LMC students at Ellington write, aware of how pop culture, DC’s streets and neighborhoods, and—as New York Newsday’s Patricia Volk once put it—their lives “being a vital particle away from death” affect their poetry.
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