Hey Yo! Yo Soy!

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40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry, A Bilingual Edition
The Collected Works of Jesús Papoleto Meléndez

Foreword by Samuel Diaz and Carmen M. Pietri-Diaz
Introduction by Sandra Maria Esteves
Afterword by: Jaime “Shaggy” Flores
Edited by Gabrielle David and Kevin E. Tobar Pesántez
Translations by Adam Wier, Carolina Fung Feng, Marjorie González
OCT. 2012 | ISBN: 978-0-9884763-1-8 (eBook)
LCCN: 2012951817



SKU: HYYS052014 Categories: , , , , Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Product ID: 5132


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.

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Author Bio


JESÚS PAPOLETO MELÉNDEZ (“Papo”) is an award-winning New York-born Puerto Rican poet who is recognized as one of the founders of the Nuyorican Movement. He is also a playwright, teacher and activist. He has published several volumes of poetry: Casting Long Shadows (1970), Have You Seen Liberation (1971), Street Poetry & Other Poems (Barlenmir House, 1972), Concertos On Market Street (Kemetic Images, 1994); and the stage plays The Junkies Stole the Clock (New York Shakespeare Festival, 1974), and An Element of Art (El Porton Theatre Co., 1978). His latest book, HEY YO! YO SOY! 40 YEARS OF NUYORICAN STREET POETRY, A BILINGUAL EDITION is a 386-page collection, comprised of his three previously published books from the 1970s.

He is anthologized most notably in The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (W.W. Norton & Company, 2011); In the Arms of Words: Poems for Tsunami Relief (Foothills 2005); Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (Three Rivers Press, 2001); Literature and Integrated Studies – Forms of Literature (ScottForesman/HarperCollins Publishers, 1997); In Defense of Mumia (Writers & Readers Publishers, 1996); Paper Dance (Persea Books, 1995); Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry (Penguin, 1994); La Linea Quebrada – The Broken Line (Border Arts Publication, 1987); Hojas, Revista de Talleres Literatura (Universidad Autonoma Baja California, Tijuana, Mexico, 1986); Peace is our profession: Poems and passages of war protest (East River Press, 1981); Herejes Y Mitificadores: Muestra De Poesia Puertorriquena En Los Estados Unido (Ediciones Huracan, 1980); Puertoricaner In New York (Institute for Amerikanerika, Universitat Nurnberg, Germany, 1979).

Meléndez is a NYFA Poetry Fellow (New York Foundation for the Arts, 2001), and has received The Universes Poetic Ensemble Company Award in “Appreciation of Inspiration & Commitment to the Development of the Company” (2006); The 1st Annual El Reverendo Pedro Pietri Hand Award in Poetry, El Spirit Republic de Puerto Rico, El Puerto Rican Embassy (2006); The Louis Reyes Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award, Amherst College (2004); and an Artist for Community Enrichment (ACE) Award from the Bronx Council on the Arts (1995).

Press Kit

Download high-resolution photos, book covers, author bios, book information sheets and press releases. Please use photo credits where indicated. Right click on photos and book covers to “save as,” and download PDFs. For more information, contact Gabrielle David at gdavid [AT] 2leafpress [DOT] org


Edited, produced and directed by Vagabond.

What People Are Saying

Finally, a body of work from the school of Nuyorican Poetry that calls us from the street while we’re on the rooftop making faces at the stars: The Birth of Yo in Us. You can feel the steam of winter wreck our souls in Papoleto’s verse; in it, you find the cascading flow of personal and political evolution born of chaos and fracture. Poetry has never spoke louder; same goes for love in this collection. Let Papoleto’s book serve as a chronicle of transnational awakening.

— Willie Perdomo, PEN Beyond Margins Award-winning author of Smoking Lovely

Papoleto’s book, Hey Yo!  Yo Soy! is a wonderful insight into the mind and creation of a classic Nuyorican Poet. It is not just a compendium of forty years of Nuyorican Poetry; it also shows the growth and development of a Nuyorican Legend. For up and coming poets, writers, and spoken word artists, this book is a must-read. Not only is the poetry an oral history of events of close to a half a century, but his words/commentary paint a beautiful mosaic of the raw power that Nuyorican Poetry contains. Kudos to Papoleto and the publishers for putting this invaluable text together for all to enjoy!

—Frank Perez Author/Poet/Playwright

Hey Yo! Yo Soy! reveals a courageous voice watching and living the harsh realities of poor Puerto Rican and Black communities. In contrast with the beauty of nature and the world of the “privileged” classes are the violence and pain of the world of poverty, drug addiction and cultural oppression. These poems communicate an absurd, tragic sense of life, sometimes with humor. They reveal the role of the state and religion in both creating and neglecting these conditions. Papoleto encourages us to revolt, to create a freer world by rebelling, even in the smallest acts. This book is a gift of love.

— Myrna Nieves, Ph.D. writer and editor of anthologies, Professor at Boricua College in New York City

jesús papoleto meléndez is a living spanglish lexicon. Hey Yo! Yo Soy! is a testament to the dedication & documentation of the nuyorican experience. it carries so many words in between the pages: longevity, strength, survival, transformation. a very necessary piece in the literary history of puerto ricans in new york.

— Bonafide Rojas Author of When The City Sleeps Publisher, Grand Concourse Press

Hey Yo! Yo Soy! presents forty years of Meléndez’s poetry, the authentic sound–the songs–of life perceived through an “open window” in El Barrio. To begin, the poet announces himself in the rollicking, prancing title poem, “¡Hey Yo / Yo Soy!” The following sixty-plus poems echo the rhythms of El Barrio and reveal its inner life through sharply etched images. With distilled clarity, Meléndez renders the disappointment, loneliness, and anger of ugly ghetto streets and redeems that pain with his poet’s desire to hear the ‘lovely sounds’ and attain ‘new growth.’

—Evelyn A. Flory, Ph.D. Head of School (Retired) St. Paul’s School for Girls, Baltimore


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