Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
DescriptionFrom New York to Nashville, Boston to L.A., a bohemian rhapsody of rap swagger is spreading across the land. As the "New York Observer" writes: "The poetry corpse is stirring, " its healing heart is "a big, dark, brick-walled loft on Third Street and Avenue C called the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. It's democratic, multicultural...sometimes funny, sometimes ribald. It has the vitality of vulgarity."
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"[This] is a fun, wild, and fascinating volume of poems from what Holman calls 'a home for the tradition that has no home but your ear' . . . Aloud is significant in its openness, its verbal power, and the undeniable fact that its performers are changing things without giving a damn how many walls they tear down." --Ray Gonzalez, The Nation
"Manhattan's Nuyorican Poets Cafe, located in the low-rent district of Alphabet City, has become well-known over the past two decades for its poetry performances and 'slams.' Founded by Miguel Algarin and the late Miguel Pinero, it is the home for New York's Puerto Rican poets and other poets of various nationalities and ethnic groups. This remarkably full collection, winner of the 1994 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, includes 260 poems by 145 poets of highly varied voices, a breadth that gives the anthology an urban energy that has transferred well from stage to page. Most of the works are interesting to read, some are heartrending, and others just plain fun. Nicole Breedlove's poem about growing up on welfare ("And my brother / joined the army / to get away / from the government"), Dael Orlandersmith's "Poem for Anne Sexton" ("Her perfume is the bathwater / of faded party girls"), and Sapphire's troubled "In My Father's House" ("my mother slipped on her sweater & disappeared") are a few of the many standouts. Bob Holman's "Invocation" (a sort of foreword), Algarin's introduction, and the sometimes witty, sometimes precious authors' biographies are not to be missed. Highly recommended." --Library Journal
"New York City's Nuyorican Poets Cafe, a Lower East Side institution, is known for hosting poetry slams, or public recitals of poems competitively graded by the audience. This is participatory performance poetry with an urban groundswell behind it--oral, multicultural, political, uninhibited . . . The vitality of [Aloud] is conspicuous even when its anarchy causes some impatience. A maximalist poetry--compounded of emotional drive, visceral detail, real-life words and rhythms--offers something vigorous even when it reads as virtually unedited. The voices collected (more than 100) are challenging." --Publishers Weekly