Tag Archives: Nuyorican Poets Cafe

How I Found My Voice

I first became aware of The Village Voice in high school, when my older brother, Brett, used to go the Beloit, Wisconsin, public library to peruse its political investigations and music coverage. We were both discovering punk rock, watching Patti Smith on Saturday Night Live, and we could read about the newest bands from CBGB’s in the Voice. Later, in college, I got assigned to write about it in my one and only journalism class. Within a few years, I was copy editing and writing there, ultimately becoming a senior editor in charge of music. It was a crazy, difficult, exciting place, and the work I did for them — “discovering” Paul Beatty and the rest of the ’90s NYC lit scene bubbling around the incredible Nuyorican Poets Cafe, traveling to New Zealand to write about music, covering Rent as it moved from Downtown to Broadway and beyond, interviewing John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, the creators of a new musical called Hedwig and the Angry Inch; writing about punk drag artists such as Justin Bond and Miss Guy — still defines me. And then there was my one and only cover story, the first major interview with Patti Smith after her husband Fred died and she returned to the stage — an incredible encounter with the woman who made me want to be a rock’n’roll critic, and move to New York, and dive into the sea of possibilities. RIP Voice. Say hi to Aretha.

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The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, 1991 — #TBT

Nuyorican Article_Page_1In my own version of Throw-Back Thursday, I’m going to start posting articles from my publishing past. In 1991 I wrote a feature story for The Village Voice about the literary renaissance that was unfolding largely in Downtown venues, particularly the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I called it guerrilla poetry. This was the first in-depth article on this scene, long before New York magazine put Edwin Torres on its cover. I still consider many of the poets and novelists I wrote about — Miguel Algarin, Tracie Morris, Mike Tyler, Paul Skiff, etc. — to be some of the most talented people I’ve had the honor to meet, let alone write about.  Nuyorican Article

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Poet Tracie Morris at LMU

Tracie Morris FlyerI’m honored and excited to be presenting one of my favorite poets from my old New York days, Tracie Morris, at LMU on March 12. If you can’t come Thursday, come see us Friday at the Orange County Museum of Art. Since her slam champ days at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Tracie has studied and nurtured her craft. She’s now a professor at Pratt Institute.

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