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       The Barcelona Review


Contemporary Puerto Rican Writers 


The Spanish culture of Puerto Rico has yielded outstanding literary works in every category.   The father of Puerto Rican literature is considered to be Alejandro Tapia y Rivera (1826-1882), followed in the 20th century by well known authors José María Lima and Enrique Arturo Laguerre Vélez, among others.  For our quiz this issue, we’re focusing on more contemporary writers for whom the greats paved the way, beginning with the Nuyorican movement of poets, writers, artists, and musicians whose work spoke to the social, political, and economic issues Puerto Ricans faced in New York City in the 1960s and 1970s, born out of a period of migration. They in turn paved the way for the edgy, young slam poets and writers of today.


Name the writer:

1. Story of the young girl Negi as she moves from Puerto Rico to New York City in the early 50s and comes of age.
Esmeralda Santiago  When I Was Puerto Rican

2. In her first novel, written in Spanish and later translated into Engish, this author writes about a teenaged drag queen who works in the streets and sings boleros.
Mayra Santos-Febres  Sirena Selena vestida de pena / Sirena Selena

3.   They worked
          They were always on time
          They were never late
          They never spoke back
          when they were insulted
          They worked
          They never took days off
          that were not on the calendar
          They never went on strike
          without permission
          They worked
          ten days a week
          and were only paid for five
          They worked
          They worked
          They worked
          and they died
          They died broke
          They died owing
          They died never knowing
          what the front entrance
          of the first national city bank looks like

          All died yesterday today
          and will die again tomorrow
          passing their bill collectors
          on to the next of kin

This Nuyorican poet and playwright was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and raised in Manhattan.
Pedro Pietri

4.  The author made history as the first queer Latina writer for Marvel Comics.  She’s contributed to the comic series for Marvel’s first queer Latinx superheroine, America Chavez. 
Gabby Rivera

5.  The author is known for her cross-genre allegorical novel that blends experimental theatre, prose poetry, short story, and political philosophy with a manifesto on democracy and American life in a post–9/11 world. The work addresses Latin American immigration to the United States, Puerto Rico's colonial status, and "power imbalances within the Americas."
Giannina Braschi

6 I am new. History made me. My first language was spanglish.
     I was born at the crossroads and I am whole.

This Puerto Rican Jewish writer and poet is known for her works on identity, feminism and homeopathic activism. 
Aurora Levins Morales

7.  Born in East Harlem in 1952, this Afro-Latina activist and artist wrote about her journey to becoming a Yoruba priestess in the Santería religion.
Marta Moreno Vega 

8.  A hurricane destroyed your sense of home
     and all you wanted was to pack your bags
     in dead of night, still waving mental flags,
     forgetting the nation is a syndrome.
     All that’s left of the sea in you is foam,
     the coastline's broken voice and all its crags.
     You hear the governor admit some snags
     were hit, nada, mere blips in the biome,
     nothing that private equity can’t fix
     once speculators pour into San Juan
     to harvest the bad seed of an idea.

Translator, poet and critic, originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Urayoán Noel

9. This multi-cultural poet (Puerto Rican and Jewish)  is one of the “Top 20 Emerging LGBT Leaders,”  according to the Philadelphia Gay Newspaper. Her poem “Dear Straight People” went viral with over 2 million views.
Denice Frohman

10. A campesino looked at the air
      And told me:
      With hurricanes it’s not the wind
      or the noise or the water.
      I’ll tell you he said:
      it’s the mangoes, avocados
      Green plantains and bananas
      flying into town like projectiles.

      How would your family
      feel if they had to tell
      The generations that you
      got killed by a flying

      Death by drowning has honor
      But to suffer a mango smashing
      Your skull
      or a plantain hitting your
      Temple at 70 miles per hour
      is the ultimate disgrace.

Another member of the Nuyorican movement, he was proclaimed a National Treasure by Life magazine when they included his name among the greatest American poets. He was the first Hispanic in the US to have this honor bestowed on him.
Victor Hernández Cruz

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