Black Lives Have Always Mattered
A Collection of Essays, Poems, and Personal Narratives

Hey Yo! Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry
A Bilingual Edition

Jesús Papoleto Meléndez

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.

Affectionately known as “Papo,” he published his first poem, “Message To Urban Sightseers” in Talkin’ About Us (1969). The publication of his earliest volumes of poetry, Casting Long Shadows (1970), Have You Seen Liberation (1971), and Street Poetry & Other Poems (1972), firmly established Papo as a prominent poet in the Nuyorican community.

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). 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.

In 1974, Meléndez’s play, “The Junkies Stole The Clock,” was the first Latino play produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Public Theatre’s Nuyorican Playwright’s Unit.. He also wrote the play, An Element of Art (El Porton Theatre Co., 1978).

Beginning in the 1970s, Meléndez began his 30-year career as a poet-facilitator in the public schools, working at workshop programs in California and New York. In 1993, he published the poetry collection, Concertos On Market Street, merging his Nuyorican melodies with a Southern California sensibility.

Meléndez 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).

Over the years, Meléndez has performed his poetry with musical groups in California, Tijuana, México and New York, and has opened for such artists as Tito Puente, Urban Bush Women and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. His works have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and is often cited in textbooks. He is the recipient of numerous awards, most recently the Union Settlement Association “Innovation Award” (2011). Now an elder statesman of the Nuyorican poetry scene, Meléndez has become a mentor for emerging poets and writers that follow in the Nuyorican tradition.

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2LP Conversations

Gonzales’s poems speak assertively, and the poet’s use of complex periodic sentences lends his lines accumulating power. My translation closely follows the poet’s syntax, and I hope that recreates the drive of the poems.

Lynn Levin

The Black Arts Movement made it clear that you’re not just writing for yourself, but for the masses. Poetry today is more about “me” as opposed to “we.” It’s more or less an ego exercise and much of it wallows heavily in the pathos of our lives.

Abiodun Oyewole

My primary goal with this novel was to pay my respects to William Faulkner’s classic The Wild Palms. Retelling Faulkner’s tale with Latino characters seems like a natural stage of literary evolution, one that mirrors the evolving literary relationship between our twin continents.

Ezra Fitz

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