HEY YO! YO SOY! 40 YEARS OF NUYORICAN STREET POETRY, A BILINGUAL EDITION is a 386-page poetry collection, comprised of Meléndez’ three previously published books: Casting Long Shadows (1970), Have You Seen Liberation (1971), and Street Poetry & Other Poems (1972). Meléndez, who is one of the founders of the Nuyorican Movement, not only tackles coming of age as a poet and activist, he also tackles political, intellectual and linguistic topics that remain relevant to this day.
HEY YO! YO SOY! chronicles the evolution of Meléndez’ relationship with El Barrio, and his political and social awakening as a poet, writer and activist. The sense of not belonging to neither Puerto Rico or the United States evolved into his involvement with the Nuyorican Movement, which critiqued and challenged the social and political institutions and policies that were hindering Puerto Ricans in New York City. It was this social commitment and activism that has served as the defining characteristic of poetry. HEY YO! YO SOY!’s influences range from minimalist poetry to code-switching, from Afro-Caribbean music to concrete poetry in a literature of resistance which explores the political and social issues of Puerto Rico into an international dimension that embraces the past, present and future writers of the Nuyorican Movement. It is the first book to be translated from the English to the Spanish, which links cultural connections in the Spanish-speaking community. From the profound to the poignant to the comedic, Meléndez provides an important, historical look at a pivotal period in American society. HEY YO! YO SOY! 40 YEARS OF NUYORICAN STREET POETRY, A BILINGUAL EDITION is a collection to be devoured as a single sustained narrative, from the first page to the last; a worthy addition in anyone’s library. Cover art: Jaime “Shaggy” Flores. Photo credit: Wazuri-Gente Meléndez.