Poet, playwright, scholar, and co-founder of the Nuyorican Poets Café Miguel Algarín has died at the age of 79. The news was broken on social media by journalist David González. No cause of death has been reported at the moment of publishing this story.
Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico on September 11, 1941, his family moved to New York’s Lower East Side in 1950. Algarín has described his upbringing as very culturally minded which set him for a similar path of his own. He studied English, earning various degrees including a PhD in comparative literature, and later becoming a professor of the language, lecturing in Brooklyn University, NYU, and Rutgers where he became emeritus professor.
By 1975, his home had become a meeting ground for writers to share their works and thoughts. Expanding to a formal space, Algarín-along with Miguel Piñero, Pedro Pietri, and others-founded the Nuyorican Poets Café, becoming ground zero for a literary movement. During its history, the Nuyorican Poets Café has been a haven for poetry, prose, theater, visual arts, and music, as their weekly jam sessions attest. Algarín broadcasted a radio program from the Café and compiled various anthologies of Puerto Rican literature, founding the publishing house Nuyorican Press as well as Arte Public Press. Some of his most famous works include On Call, Time’s Now/Ya Es Tiempo, and Love Is Hard Work.
During his lifetime, Algarín received three American Book Awards as well as many other recognitions from the literary community. In 2001 he was portrayed by actor Giancarlo Esposito in the 2001 Miguel Piñero biopic.
Today we say hasta pronto to a literary giant.