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Classical 91.7-Arte Público Author of the Month: Miguel Piñero

Miguel Piñero has been selected as this month’s Classical 91.7/Arte Público Press Author of the Month. In the next installment of a series of monthly features, Classical 91.7’s Eric Ladau spoke with the Founder and Director of Arte Público Press, Nicolás Kanellos.


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Outlaw: The Collected Works of Miguel Piñero is the definitive volume of poetry and plays by the controversial poet laureate of the disenfranchised and oppressed. “A thief, a junkie I’ve been / committed every known sin,” Miguel Piñero sings in “A Lower East Side Poem.” Part observer, part participant in the turbulent goings-on in his barrio, celebrated poet, playwright, and rebel Miguel Piñero blasted onto the literary scene and made waves in the artistic current with his dramatic interpretations of the world around him.

Introduced to international audiences by actor Benjamin Bratt in the 2001 feature film Piñero, his works are as rough and gritty as the New York City underworld he wrote about and loved.  His depictions of pimp bars, drug addiction, petty crime, prison culture and outlaw life—all drawn from first-hand experience—astound the faint-hearted.

This anticipated collection includes previously and never-before published poems and ten plays, including Short Eyes, which was later made into a film and won the 1973-1974 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play.  A co-founder of the Nuyorican Poet’s Café, Piñero died at the age of 41, leaving behind a compelling literary legacy.

Miguel Piñero (1946-1988) was a screenwriter, playwright, poet, and actor.  He appeared in and wrote for the television series, Miami Vice, and had writing credits for the Baretta Series and The Jericho Mile.  As a playwright, he is best known for his controversial play Short Eyes, which won the Obie Award and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best American Play of the 1973-1974 season. Piñero’s other published works include two collections of plays—The Sun Always Shines for the Cool and Outrageous One-Act Plays—and a book of poems, La Bodega Sold Dreams.

Arte Público Press is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.  Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the realistic and authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters, and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Books published under the imprint are designed to serve as a bridge from the home culture to that of the school, as well as to support family literacy and elementary school education. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity.  For more information, please visit