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Nuyorican Poets Cafe Announces 40th Anniversary Season Programming

The Nuyorican Poets Cafe will commemorate its 40th Anniversary with a range of new multi-arts performances, retrospective events and infrastructure upgrades. Beginning with preview events this summer, the Cafe's 40thAnniversary season will showcase the work of dozens of poets, playwrights, actors, musicians, burlesque performers, multimedia artists and educators.

Highlights of the Cafe's 40th Anniversary season will include the world premiere production of a new play about the life of Richard Pryor; the world premiere staging of a multi-disciplinary performance piece commissioned by the Cafe that explores the impact of technology on the lives of students; events commemorating the careers of Billy Holiday and Miguel Pinero; a new monthly burlesque performance series; and live online video streaming of some of the Cafe's signature events, including the world famous Friday Night Poetry Slam.

WORLD PREMIERE Theater Productions:

The Nuyorican Poets Cafe has commissioned six of its most skilled young artists to create two poetry-infused works of musical theater; the first, entitled FACE FIRST, will address the impact of information technology on teenagers' and young adults' identity issues. Multi-talented artists Nisha Asnani, Aurora Barnes, Mahogany Browne, Darian Dauchan, Jive Poetic and Advocate of Wordz have crafted poems, monologues and songs that explore how technology empowers, oppresses, bewilders and transforms adolescents. FACE FIRST will have two workshop stagings on Tuesday, July 10 and Monday, July 16, both at 7PM; a full production of the show will premiere in September for three weeks. The second commissioned work by these artists will premiere in 2013. This project is made possible in part by the support of the New York State Council for the Arts.

In January 2013, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe will produce the world premiere staging of Wesley Brown's DARK MEAT ON A FUNNY MIND, a two-character play about the life of comedian Richard Pryor. In the play, Pryor and his imaginary alter ego attempt to reconcile the best and worst aspects of his career while channeling the comedians who have been his forebears, peers and heirs. Wesley Brown's previous works include BOOGIE WOOGIE AND BOOKER T, A PROPHET AMONG THEM and LIFE DURING WARTIME, the latter of which was produced by the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in 1992 and received AUDELCO Awards for Best Play and Production of the Year. LIFE DURING WARTIME was also published in the 1997 Simon and Schuster anthology ACTION: The Nuyorican Poets Cafe Theater Festival.


Burlesque Weekends

Beginning this summer, the Cafe presents world-class burlesque performances on two weekend nights per month. Upcoming burlesque events at the Cafe include:

Punany Poets on Saturday, June 23 at 9PM. The Punany Poets are pioneers of erotic entertainment, boldly turning the pages of your mind with scintillating poetry.Tigger! Presents: Mod Carousel on Friday, June 29 at 7PM. Seattle's popular BOYlesque performance group returns to the Cafe after a sold-out performance in April.Epic Win and Ms. Mary Cyn's burlesque tribute to the X-Men on Friday July 13th and Saturday, July 14th at 8PM each night.

An evening of nerdy nudity based on everyone's favorite Mutant Hero Super Team.

Epic Win presents Steampunk Burlesque on Saturday, August 18 at 7PM. Epic Win Burlesque, the nerdiest burlesque show in the city, drew standing-room only crowds to the Cafe in March for their tribute to the sci-fi series Firefly.

Tickets to the Cafe's burlesque events are $10-$15.

Fusion Thursdays

A new monthly series of marathon Thursday night evenings that combine jazz performances with book readings, art openings and dance performances. On Thursday, June 21st at 7PM, visual artist Manuel Pardo's book release party features a performance by Albert Marquez on piano; the Latin Jazz Jam featuring Hector Martignon follows. Then on July 12 starting at 7PM, Willie Martinez and his salsa band perform during a Salsa Social; teachers will be on hand to help you improve your Salsa steps. Fusion Thursdays are $7 admission ($5 students) for the whole night. The series will continue monthly throughout the year.

LES Stories

Leslie Goshko hosts this new series of storytelling events that focus on Lower East Side narratives; LES residents and regulars are invited to tell stories about the neighborhood in an open mic format. All stories told in this series will be archived and made available online. The series launches on Thursday, June 14th at 7pm and continues on Thursday, July 19th; Thursday, August 16th and into the fall. Admission is $5.

Cave Canem Fellows Readings

Cave Canem is a Brooklyn-based writers' center that nurtures African-American poets. Beginning in September 2012, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe will host BEWARE THE DOG, a monthly series of readings by emerging Black poets who have been mentored by Cave Canem's resident artists. Admission: $5-$10.


Open Mic Mondays

The most exciting multi-disciplinary open mic in the city enters its second year. Every Monday at 9PM, musicians, monologists, comics, hip hop performers and spoken word artists take the stage for five minutes each. Unlike the Wednesday Night Slam Open, Open Mic Mondays are non-competitive; a great first event for any budding performer. Admission is only $5.

Wednesday Night Slam Open

Every Wednesday except the first Wednesday of each month, Jive Poetic hosts the Slam Open. Twenty poets compete for a cash prize and a chance to perform in the Friday Night Slam. Judges score the poems, and the finalists compete in a second round before a winner is chosen. Some of the most successful spoken word and hip hop artists have begun their careers by competing in this event. $7 admission; line up at least an hour early.

Thursday Night Latin Jazz

On Thursday nights at 9PM, the Cafe presents a rotating roster of top-notch Latin Jazz artists including Chembo Corniel, Hector Martignon and Willie Martinez. The second Thursday of the month is a wild-card slot for rising Latin Jazz artists to strut their stuff. Admission is $7 ($5 for students); one Thursday per month, Fusion Thursdays combine our regular Latin Jazz Jam with events from another artistic discipline.

Friday Night Poetry Slam, followed by Open Room

The weekly spoken word competition that popularized the art form of slam poetry, the Nuyo's Friday Night Poetry Slam features the very best performance poets from across the globe. Accomplished poets compete for a slot on the Cafe's Slam Team and the coveted title of Grand Slam Champion (winning this title launched the careers of artists including Paul Beatty, reg e gaines, Willie Perdomo, Saul Williams, Mayda del Valle and Sarah Jones). Mahogany Browne hosts. A limited number of $20 reserved seats are now available; spectators wait in line for several hours to snag $10 walkup tickets. The Open Room, a free open mic hosted by A-Trayn, begins right after the Slam ends each Friday night. The Slam and Open Room will be streamed online on a pay-per-view basis beginning in June.

Banana Puddin' Jazz Jam and Open Mic

Rome Neal's monthly jazz series celebrates its ninth year at the Cafe. Banana Puddin' takes place on the first Saturday of every month at 9PM. The June 2nd installment focuses on classic soul and R&B, featuring vocalists Sheryl Renee, Ameerah Kay and Michael Overstreet; an open mic for jazz artists and poets follows the featured performances. $15 cover.

All That and Words

On the first Wednesday of each month at 9:30PM (ALL THAT) and the third Saturday of each month at 10PM (WORDS), Rocky LaMontagne presents hip hop and poetry open mics backed by a live band. Performers accustomed to working with recorded tracks are often wowed by the power of a live backbeat. Arrive early if you want to perform; admission is $13 ($10 for students).


Helena D. Lewis hosts this showcase of poetry and monologues on the last Saturday of each month at 10PM. Featured artists and open mic performers spit their verse late into the night. Admission is $10.

Bobby Sanabria and the New School Afro-Cuban Big Band

On the last Sunday of each month, renowned Latin Jazz percussionist Bobby Sanabria leads the New School's band in rousing renditions of Afro-Cuban tunes both classic and brand new. Admission is $10

SPECIAL EVENTS (a sampling):

A Screening and Discussion of the film PIÑERO

Miguel Piñero, co-founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, was the subject of a 2001 biographical film directed by Leon Ichaso (which was partially filmed at the Cafe). The film will be screened at 7PM on June 18 (the anniversary of Pinero's death), and a discussion with some of the artists who knew him will follow. Admission is $5.

Nuyo Live: Bonafide Rojas and Vincent Ramirez

Poet Bonafide Rojas and painter/illustrator Vincent Ramirez perform THE MONA PASSAGE, a poetic musical work that blends influences from 60's psychedelia and the 90's Seattle music scene. At 8PM on July 17; $10.

The First Annual Slam Team Pass-the-Torch Formal Soiree

On July 31 at 8PM, the Nuyo celebrates its 2011 Slam Poetry Team (which is ranked second in the nation) and welcomes its 2012 Slam Poetry Team (which will compete in the National Poetry Slam this summer). The evening will feature live music, a tasty buffet, red-carpet treatment, a raffle and prom dresses. Proceeds from the benefit will subsidize the slam team's training and travel expenses. Tickets start at $15.

Salute to Lady Day: A Celebration of Billie Holiday

Vocalist Sheryl Renee headlines an evening of songs made famous by the legendary Billie Holiday and stories about Lady Day's career. Renee will be backed by a live jazz band; the event will be directed by Rome Neal. On September 22, 2012 at 7PM; admission is $15.


By early June, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe will begin live-streaming several of its most popular recurring events as well as a number of stand-alone events. Some of these events will subsequently be archived and made available for on-demand viewing. Premium events such as the Friday Night Poetry Slam will be streamed on a pay-per-view basis, while some of our open mic and music events will be streamed free of charge.

A beta version of the video stream can be found here.


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 was founded in 1973 in the apartment of Miguel Algarin, and moved to its present location in 1981.

All events take place at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (located at 236 East 3rd Street, between Avenues B and C in Manhattan). The Cafe is a short walk from the 2nd Avenue Station of the F train and the Essex/Delancey Station of the J/M/Z trains.

Tickets to most events can be ordered in advance at; for directions and ticket information, customers should call 212-780-9386.

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