Sunday, March 09, 2008


Benefit for Jack Agüeros, March 18

Martín Espada forwarded the following letter from Rich Villar about a fundraiser for the poet Jack Agüeros, who is struggling with Alzheimer's Disease. My thoughts go out to his family and the wide poetic family that cherishes his work and his life. If you're in NYC, you can attend this important event. And if not, you can still contribute to support Agüeros' care. Scroll to the end for information on where to send donations.

on 8th Street
between 6th Avenue and Broadway
there are enough shoe stores
with enough shoes
to make me wonder
why there are shoeless people
on the earth.

You have to fire the Angel
in charge of distribution.

--"Psalm For Distribution"
by Jack Agüeros
(from LORD, IS THIS A PSALM?, Hanging Loose Press 2002)

Dear friends and colleagues:

I'm writing to you about a friend of ours: Jack Agüeros.

I say "friend," not because I have known Jack for decades (I haven't), but
because of what Jack's work has meant to the writers, artists, and activists
here in New York City's Puerto Rican communities. In these decades, through his
work as a poet, translator, fiction writer, and community organizer, Jack
Agüeros has spoken to us with clarity, humility, intensity, and dignity about
our shared experiences as Puerto Ricans.

As a community activist, he worked with the Henry Street Settlement, the Puerto
Rican Community Development Project, and various city agencies. As a journalist
and essayist, he has written about the alliances between Chicano and Puerto
Rican activists, and about his own life as a Puerto Rican in New York. As an
invaluable historian, he has translated and researched the work of Jose Martí
and Julia de Burgos. Through his ingenious use of the sonnet and psalm forms,
he has perfected the very human art of advocacy, conveying our struggles with
unflinching imagery and a smart comedic sensibility. As a cultural worker,
Agüeros brought art, music and a Three Kings’ Day parade (with real camels) to
East Harlem through his stewardship of El Museo del Barrio.

Jack Agüeros has committed his life to the educational and social wellbeing of
his people. Now is our chance to contribute to his wellbeing.

For quite a while now, Jack and his family have been dealing with the onset of
his Alzheimer's Disease. It's been a difficult time, but the family has always
been able to count on the support of friends and loved ones. That support will
be made palpable on Tuesday, March 18th, when Jack's friends and family will
come together for a benefit reading at Taller Boricua, in the Julia de Burgos
Center, in the heart of Jack's birthplace, East Harlem. The location—1680
Lexington Avenue at the corner of 106th Street--is particularly appropriate,
since the Center is named for the famous Puerto Rican poet whose work Jack
translated, and is also the former home of P.S. 107, where Jack attended grammar

Scheduled to appear that night will be fellow poets, fiction writers, and
kindred spirits who know and love Jack, many of whom are longtime friends of
his: Martín Espada, Sandra Maria Esteves, Naomi Ayala, Aracelis Girmay, Lidia
Torres, Robert Hershon, Donna Brook, Hettie Jones, Lynne Procope, Rich Villar, Tara Betts, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Julio Marzán, and Edgardo Vega Yunqué.
children, Kadi, Natalia, and Marcel Agüeros, will also be on hand.

The event starts at 7pm with a special performance by the young students of
Taller Boricua's Tuesday dance class, who were gracious enough to move their
gathering in order to accomodate this event.

The authors will have books for sale, the proceeds for which will go toward
Jack's care. Signed copies of Jack's books, including DOMINOES, SONNETS FOR THE
PUERTO RICAN, and LORD, IS THIS A PSALM? will also be available, courtesy of
Hanging Loose Press and Curbstone Press. In addition, Sandra Maria Esteves has
graciously donated one of her prints, which will be bid upon in a silent auction
that night.

A $10 suggested donation will be collected at the door. No one will be turned

If you cannot make it to the fundraiser, but would still like to make a
contribution toward Jack's care, you can send along a check payable to Marcel
Agüeros at the following address:

Marcel Agüeros
Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory
Mail Code 5247
550 W. 120th Street
New York, NY 10027

This is our chance to pay tribute to a true giant of Puerto Rican, Latino, and
U.S. literature. Please distribute this letter far and wide, to as many as
possible. We hope to see you all in East Harlem on March 18th, 7pm sharp.

Rich Villar.

Tuesday, March 18th @ 7pm
A Reading and Benefit for Jack Agüeros

Scheduled readers include Martín Espada, Sandra Maria Esteves, Naomi Ayala,
Aracelis Girmay, Lidia Torres, Robert Hershon, Donna Brook, Hettie Jones, Lynne
Procope, Rich Villar, Tara Betts, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Julio Marzán, and
Edgardo Vega Yunqué.

Taller Boricua @ The Julia de Burgos Cultural Center
1680 Lexington Avenue (corner of 106th St.)
6 Train to 103rd Street, two blocks north on Lex.
Hosted by Rich Villar of Acentos Bronx Poetry Showcase
Suggested Donation: $10 (no one will be turned away)
For further inquiries or questions, please call 845-598-8654 or email

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