Suárez 1Efraín Suárez ArceProf. Juan C. CanalsEnglish 3232(OU1)21 September 2008 First research assignment: Sample Research PaperOutlineI. Subject: Puerto Rican Literature in English A. Pedro Pietri’s poem, “Puerto Rican Obituary”II. Topic: Autobiographical Issues in Pedro Pietri’s poem, “Puerto Rican Obituary”III. Hypothesis: “Puerto Rican Obituary” presents a closer look at the social,economic and cultural issues of the Nuyorican community according to Pietri. This givesthe reader a clearer glimpse into the personal issues which motivated the creation of thepoem itself. A. economic and cultural issues of the Nuyorican community during the late 1940s and 1950’s 1. Definition of the term the term "Nuyorican"
Suárez 2 B. Pietri as one of the Nuyorican poets of the 1960’s 1. Reclaiming of the term, “Nuyorican” a. introduction of the use of “spanglish” (sp ng gl sh) or Spanish that is characterized by numerous borrowings from English as spoken among bilingual people of Puerto Rican ancestry. Nuyorican poets, among them Pietri, used spanglish as a literary device to link their own history and cultural affiliation to the island while being culturally and physically separated from it. 2. Stylistic compositional choices and observable themes in Pietri’s writingIV. Conclusion A. Description of Pietri as a poet of denunciation who chronicled the joys, sorrows and struggles of Nuyoricans during his lifetime
Suárez 3Hypothesis During the late 1940s and 1950’s, New York and other Northeast citiesbecame the destination for thousands of Puerto Ricans seeking better economicconditions and who were hired in farms and factories. They experienced racialdiscrimination, linguistic barriers and other problems. These episodes and difficultiesbecame the main themes documented in their writings; "Juan, Miguel, Milagros, Olga, Manuel All died yesterday today / and will die again tomorrow Passing their bill collectors on to the next of kin All died waiting for the Garden of Eden To open up again under a new management All died dreaming about America waking them up in the middle of the night screaming: Mira Mira your name is on the winning lottery ticket for one hundred thousand dollars All died hating the grocery stores that sold them make-believe steak" (Opening stanza from Pedro Pietris "Puerto Rican Obituary)
Suárez 4The term "Nuyorican" was originally used by native Puerto Ricans (called “Boricuas”) torefer to the members of what is called the Puerto Rican Diaspora located in or aroundthe New York City area, Northern New Jersey, or of their descendants (especially thoseraised or still living in the New York area). Some people used the term to refer to manyPuerto Ricans settled in different neighborhoods of Manhattan such as El Barrio (EastHarlem) or what was called Loisaida (Lower East Side). According to Lenina Nadal , theinspiration for the name came from an incident where poets Miguel Algarín and MiguelPinero were walking in Puerto Rico when someone called them, “Nuyoricans”, as aderogatory term, meaning that they were not “authentic” Puerto Ricans and thereforeless legitimate. It is this student’s opinion that to this day Nuyoricans are not consideredPuerto Ricans by the “Boricuas” (native Puerto Ricans) due to the lack of culturesimilarity.During the 1960´s Puerto Rican authors, like Pedro Pietri began to reclaim the term inorder to link their own history and cultural affiliation to a common ancestry while beingculturally and physically separated from the island. Significantly, the majority of Pietri’spoems were composed in “Spanglish”, a form of Spanish that is characterized bynumerous borrowings from English as spoken among bilingual people of Puerto Ricanancestry. By using Spanglish he was reconfirming his identity as a Nuyorican (and inthis student’s opinion, giving birth to a stereotype which would plague bilingual people ofPuerto Rican ancestry for years to come). Pietri once stated that he wrote in Spanish,but because his typewriter spoke English, his words came out differently. He would latercall himself a "Spanglish Metaphor Consultant".
Suárez 5 “If only they had turned off the television and tuned into their own imaginations.”The stylistic choice of Pietri, as one of the Nuyorican poets of the 1960’s, of a stronglanguage that lacks lyrical qualities seems to imply a resistance to Americanization, andan expression of dignity and pride in a puertorrican heritage. This in spite of the racialdiscrimination, linguistic, cultural, social and economic barriers faced by the Nuyoricancommunity. Pietri himself described the impact of the Nuyorican poets during this time: “At the time, it was the decline of the Beat Generation, and poetry went back to the universities and became an academic thing, but here come these street poets, man, and we pushed academia out of the way and took over the scene.”The poetry he created was critical of the reality of living in abandoned neighborhoodsthroughout the city, and of the Vietnam War, which he considered unjust. Their poetrydistinguished itself as journalistic observations of people and life on the streets, andcaptured the defiance in the face of apparently uncaring social and political institutions.Pietris’s work is known for its sociopolitical exposition of the circumstances of the PuertoRican Diaspora, especially in New York. According to Dr. Alfredo Matilla: "(Pietris’s) work summarizes the literary expression of that Diaspora, collecting and documenting the language, idiosyncrasies, aspirations, mores and obstacles that it confronts within the North American Society to validate its existence.”Juan Flores, a professor at Hunter College, said that
Suárez 6 "He [Pedro Pietri] captured that social death and the hope that there is recourse to humanity in the Puerto Rican culture that people had cut themselves off from…It was not just about the poverty, but about the crass materialist culture that leads us all into illusions about ourselves."According to Juan Moreno Velazquez author of "Desmitificación de una Diva" andformer entertainment editor of El Diario-La Prensa, Pietris significance in the world ofwriting is unequivocal. "Pedro and most important his legacy are very important to our people. I am not talking past here; I am talking as everlasting expression of the reality of what being a Puerto Rican in New York is. The guy has a gift, but in many ways; he is a gift."Frances Aparacio, who has edited Pietris poetry and used it in classrooms said that "Pietris poetry falls within the surrealistic mode, fragmented images, search for the absurd in everyday life, irrational, surprising metaphors and imagery, humor, and sarcasm,"Latin culture historian Aurora Flores, a friend since 1975 said "He embraced and identified what it was to be a Nuyorican, a Puerto Rican growing up in New York,"Other observable themes are the demystification of authority figures and socialinstitutions (government, schools, church, "the system") and alienation in contemporary
Suárez 7urban life. Also, the political status and the poverty levels for Puerto Ricans in New Yorkcan be seen in Pietris denunciation of "the system."Conclusion Pedro Pietri, was a Nuyorican writer, poet, playwright and dramatist… a"Spanglish Metaphor Consultant," a member of the Latin Insomniacs Motorcycle ClubWithout Motorcycles, a man who called himself the Reverend of the “Iglesia de la Madrede los Tomates”… But foremost he was a Nuyorican poet and his poetry can bedescribed as a poetry of denunciation, which sought to create cultural awarenessamong the members of the Nuyorican community and shock them into action as we seein his poem "Puerto Rican Obituary," where he seeks to show that what we call “TheAmerican Dream” does not and cannot exist for the Nuyorican community until theythemselves develop awareness of their unique identity and potential. At times playfullyabsurd and at others angry, heartbreaking and/or hopeful, "Puerto Rican Obituary" wasembraced by young Nuyoricans upon it’s publication, who were imbued with a sense ofpride and nationalism. "Puerto Rican Obituary" should be understood in these termswithout losing sight of its original objective of addressing the masses as oral poetry.This is important in order to understand his use of popular language, anger, and style. "I see the foundation of a community that ensures our survival, which perseveres. This history we made, these poets we created… Were here to stay…They cant replace us."
Suárez 8Works CitedAparicio, Frances R. “Pedro Pietri: Classroom Issues and Strategies” Georgetown University, 3 Sept 2008 <http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/bassr/heath/syllabuild/iguide/pietri.html>Gomez, Maria Cardalliaguet , “Voces Latinas: Cultural Identity through Poetry and Lyrics 2008 - the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 3 Sept 2008 <http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/2007/1/07.01.11.x.html >Gonzalez, David “CITYWIDE; When Life Is Art, Bowing to Death Is Not an Option”, 2004 – the New York Times 3 Sept 2008 <http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/27/nyregion/27wide.html? ex=1222056000&en=1a68b31520a6d9f8&ei=5070>Nadal, Lenina “Performing Profound: A History and Interactive Playground of Puerto Rican Performance Poetry” Performing Profound.org 3 Sept 2008 <http://www.performingprofound.com/thesisproposal.pdf>Pietri, Pedro (1944-2004) “Puerto Rican Obituary; Poems” Monthly Review Press, 1973
Suárez 9Ramirez, Ana Maria “News & Analysis: The reverend Pedro Pietri” 2006 - Party for Socialism and Liberation 3 Sept 2008 <http://www.pslweb.org/site/News2?JServSessionIdr008= fhx33zlie1.app1b&page=New sArticle&id=5309&news_iv_ctrl=1201>Yvonne - “Art News & Reviews: Pedro Pietri 1944-2004”, WBAI RADIO 99.5FM, New York City, 2004 - PACIFICA FOUNDATION, <http://wbai.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1426&Itemid=2 >