Over the last 40 years, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe has served as a home for groundbreaking works of poetry, music, theater and visual arts. A multicultural and multi-arts institution, the Cafe gives voice to a diverse group of rising poets, actors, filmmakers and musicians who have not yet found consistent havens for their work. The Cafe champions the use of poetry, jazz, theater, hip-hop and spoken word as means of social empowerment for minority and underprivileged artists. Our community of spectators, artists and students is a reflection of New York City’s diverse population; Allen Ginsberg called the Cafe “the most integrated place on the planet.”
Founded in 1973, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe began as a living room salon in the East Village apartment of writer and poet Miguel Algarin. Most of the Cafe’s founding artists were poets, playwrights and musicians of color whose work was not accepted by the mainstream academic, entertainment or publishing industries. By 1975, it became clear that there were too many artists to fit in Algarin’s living room. William Morrow Inc. had just published an anthology titled “Nuyorican Poetry”. Miguel Piñero’s “Short Eyes” was a hit on Broadway. Performance poetry was emerging as a vital element of urban Latino and African-American culture. So Algarin and his colleagues rented an Irish bar, the Sunshine Cafe on East 6th Street, which was christened The Nuyorican Poets Cafe. By 1981, the overflow of audience and artists led the Cafe to purchase a former tenement building at 236 East 3rd Street, and to expand its activities and programs.
Over the past several decades, the Cafe has emerged as one of the country’s most highly respected arts organizations and has become an acclaimed forum for innovative poetry, music, Hip-Hop, video, visual arts, comedy and theatre.
The Cafe has always provided a stage for artists traditionally under-represented in the mainstream media and culture. Our programming includes poetry slams and open mics, Latin Jazz and Hip-Hop concerts, poetry and prose readings, theatrical performances, educational programs and visual art exhibits. Our weekly poetry slams draw thousands of spectators each year and have popularized competitive performance poetry; people selected at random from the audience judge the slams. Our educational programs (which are funded in part by the city and state of New York and the NEA) provide literacy and public speaking to thousands of students and many school groups each year. Our theater program has been awarded over 30 Audelco Awards and was honored with an OBIE Grant for Excellence in Theater.
Our Latin Jazz Jams on Thursday nights fill the space with stellar tunes by celebrated musicians. Our Hip Hop events include open mics and competitions for poets, freestylers and emcees, as well as collaborations for storytellers and jazz musicians. We are proud that our ongoing efforts to provide affordable support for the creative life of underprivileged artists have given the Cafe a crucial role in the artistic life of New York City.
Check out Nuyorican Poets Cafe’s Calendar of Events! – NPC Calendar of Events
NUYORICAN POETS CAFE
236 East 3rd St. New York, NY 10009
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