Miguel Algarín is a Puerto Rican poet and social activist renowned as co-founder of the legendary Nuyorican Poets Café. He is the author of more than ten published books of poetry, is the editor of several poetry anthologies, and an accomplished writer of television and theater.
Algarín was born in 1941, in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico. His early education was steeped in literature, particularly Shakespeare which left an indelible impression on him. Along with his family, he emigrated to the mainland United States when he was nine years old. In 1965, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a B.A. in Romance languages. In 1965 he earned a M.A. in English literature from Pennsylvania State University. Afterwards became professor of Shakespeare, creative writing and United States literature at Rutgers University.
While conducting classes at Rutgers (he headed the Puerto Rican Studies Department) Algarín became an active member of the emergent Puerto Rican poetic movement that arose in New York City in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1973, Algarín and other poets including Miguel Piñero and Pedro Pietri gathered in Algarin’s apartment in Manhatten to read their work. Motivated by the success of their gatherings, in 1975 Algarín and his colleagues found a location on East 6th Street in Manhatten and founded the Nuyorican Poets Café. Within a short time the Nuyorican Poets Café became the focus of public performances by emerging poets from New York City’s Puerto Rican and African-American communities. To this day Algarín continues as Executive Producer of the Nuyorican Poets Café and hosts radio broadcast of the Café with his familiar sign on: “We’re live from the Nuyorican Poets Café.”
Algarín is a prolific author. His books include: Love is Hard Work: Memorias de Loisaida (1997), On Call (1980), Time’s Now/Ya Es Tiempo (1985), Body Bee Calling from the 21st Century (1982), and Mongo Affair: Poems (1978); and he translated Songs of Protest by Pablo Neruda (1985), and Survival Supervivencia (2009).
He has co-edited Action: The Nuyorican Poets Café Theater Festival (1997), Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café (1994), and Nuyorican Poetry: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Words and Feelings (1975).
Algarín has received four American Book Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. In 2001, he was awarded the Larry Leon Hamlin Producer’s Award at the 2001 National Black Festival. For his theatrical work he has received the Bessie Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement, an Obie Grant for excellence in Theater and, in three consecutive years, the Audelco award for dramatic productions of the year. Algarín is a retired, a Professor Emeritus from Rutgers University.
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