An Evening With Miguel Algarin

17 Nov 2015 | Under Event | Posted by | 0 Comments


Miguel Algarin has perhaps undoubtedly been one of the biggest influences in my life. Without the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, which he co-founded, there would likely be fewer voices like myself given the opportunity to be heard within the poetry scene. While there may be more literary spaces open to writers of color and spoken word artists, Miguel provided a safe space for our stories to be shared as early as the 70’s. Throughout the years, the stage at 236 East 3rd Street in the Lower East Side (or Loisaida as we native New Yorkers call it) has featured many famous and aspiring poets and inspired often oppressed voices much like that of this former homeless gay youth. As someone who knows him on a personal level and has had the opportunity to work with him on several occassions, it is easy to forget that he is a genuine literary icon who deserves our recognition and celebration.

Please join us in honoring one of our living legends. As a bonus, here is a poem I wrote for him published in 2008 in Mariposas: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry.


for Miguel Algarin

you said i remind you of her
tough, bossy, strong
protected by the gold locket with diamonds and sapphires
dangling close to your heart
30 years my senior
towering over campuses and libraries:
the wisdom of legend
with stories about ginsberg and beatniks

before we met i knew of you
i revealed myself through spoken word to resurrect from death
my voice screamed out loud as if during sex
to bridge the generations between us;
my body swayed

to the sounds of percussions
in the home you provided

for your children of verse

your stare is still cursed with youthfulness
lustfully watching boys and girls you inspire to write
like your mother;
and how she pushes you to work harder
when you just want to retire

to love someone like a father
is difficult for me to admit with a kiss
while you hug me goodbye

before rushing to another gig
suppressing my prayers for your health

and safety
with jokes about your drinking

and mongo affair
you- about my crooked moustache and the stiffness of my hair

my silly admiration of you isn’t silly
simply child-like
aware of the gift of those poets before me:
family, survival,
a dream