Aloud Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Edited by Miguel Algarin and Bob Holman

Holt Paperbacks



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544 Pages



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Winner of the American Book Award

Aloud is an edgy and enormous collection that gathers the varied and invariably exciting work of many poets who regularly read and/or perform at the Nuyorican Poets Café. This café, a longtime haven of bohemian verse and emerging artistry on New York's Lower East Side, was the birthplace of the current "Slam" movement in American poetics. One of the most popular poetry anthologies currently available, Aloud features contributions by Jimmy Santiago Baca, Paul Beatty, Maggie Estep, Eileen Myles, Miguel Piñero, Ntozake Shange, and literally scores of others. As co-editor and contributor Bob Holman declares: "Poetry is a contact sport! The poem is not written until you read it!"


Praise for Aloud

"[This] is a fun, wild, and fascinating volume of poems from what Holman calls 'a home for the tradition that has no home but your ear' . . . Aloud is significant in its openness, its verbal power, and the undeniable fact that its performers are changing things without giving a damn how many walls they tear down."—Ray Gonzalez, The Nation

"Manhattan's Nuyorican Poets Café, located in the low-rent district of Alphabet City, has become well-known over the past two decades for its poetry performances and 'slams.' Founded by Miguel Algarín and the late Miguel Piñero, it is the home for New York's Puerto Rican poets and other poets of various nationalities and ethnic groups. This remarkably full collection, winner of the 1994 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, includes 260 poems by 145 poets of highly varied voices, a breadth that gives the anthology an urban energy that has transferred well from stage to page. Most of the works are interesting to read, some are heartrending, and others just plain fun. Nicole Breedlove's poem about growing up on welfare ('And my brother / joined the army / to get away / from the government'), Dael Orlandersmith's 'Poem for Anne Sexton' ('Her perfume is the bathwater / of faded party girls'), and Sapphire's troubled 'In My Father's House' ('my mother slipped on her sweater & disappeared') are a few of the many standouts. Bob Holman's 'Invocation' (a sort of foreword), Algarín's introduction, and the sometimes witty, sometimes precious authors' biographies are not to be missed. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

"New York City's Nuyorican Poets Café, a Lower East Side institution, is known for hosting poetry slams, or public recitals of poems competitively graded by the audience. This is participatory performance poetry with an urban groundswell behind it—oral, multicultural, political, uninhibited . . . The vitality of [Aloud] is conspicuous even when its anarchy causes some impatience. A maximalist poetry—compounded of emotional drive, visceral detail, real-life words and rhythms—offers something vigorous even when it reads as virtually unedited. The voices collected (more than 100) are challenging."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Edited by Miguel Algarin and Bob Holman

  • Miguel Algarín is a founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on New York City's Lower East Side and has hosted the Cafe's live radio broadcasts on WBAI for more than 18 years. He is also a distinguished poet and critic with several books to his credit. He teaches at Rutgers University.

    Bob Holman is a widely known poet—and poetry activist—whose mission is "to make poetry as natural a use for language as ordering a pizza." He is the author of The Collect Call of the Wild and a co-editor of The United States of Poetry.