Hey Yo! Yo Soy!


40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry,
A Bilingual Edition
The Collected Works of Jesús Papoleto Meléndez
Introduction by Sandra Maria Esteves
Foreword by Samuel Diaz, Carmen M. Pietri-Diaz
Afterword by Jaime “Shaggy” Flores
Edited by Gabrielle David, Kevin E. Tobar Pesántez
Translations by Adam Wier, Carolina Fung Feng, Marjorie González
Oct. 2013 | ISBN: 978-0-9884763-1-8 (eBook)



HEY YO! YO SOY! 40 YEARS OF NUYORICAN STREET POETRY, A BILINGUAL EDITION is a 386-page collection by Jesús Papoleto Melendez, is comprised of three previously published books, Casting Long Shadows (1970), Have You Seen Liberation (1971), and Street Poetry & Other Poems (1972), that consist of stories about growing up Puerto Rican in New York City’s El Barrio. Meléndez has long been considered one of the founders of the Nuyorican Movement, and the political, intellectual and linguistic topics he approaches in his work remain extremely relevant to this day. Cover Art: Jaime “Shaggy” Flores.

What People Are Saying

Finally, a body of work from the school of Nuyorican Poetry that calls us from the street while we’re on the rooftop making faces at the stars: The Birth of Yo in Us. You can feel the steam of winter wreck our souls in Papoleto’s verse; in it, you find the cascading flow of personal and political evolution born of chaos and fracture. Poetry has never spoke louder; same goes for love in this collection. Let Papoleto’s book serve as a chronicle of transnational awakening.

— Willie Perdomo
PEN Beyond Margins Award-winning author of Smoking Lovely

Papoleto’s book, Hey Yo!  Yo Soy! is a wonderful insight into the mind and creation of a classic Nuyorican Poet. It is not just a compendium of forty years of Nuyorican Poetry; it also shows the growth and development of a Nuyorican Legend. For up and coming poets, writers, and spoken word artists, this book is a must-read. Not only is the poetry an oral history of events of close to a half a century, but his words/commentary paint a beautiful mosaic of the raw power that Nuyorican Poetry contains. Kudos to Papoleto and the publishers for putting this invaluable text together for all to enjoy!

— Frank Perez, Author/Poet/Playwright

Hey Yo! Yo Soy! reveals a courageous voice watching and living the harsh realities of poor Puerto Rican and Black communities. In contrast with the beauty of nature and the world of the “privileged” classes are the violence and pain of the world of poverty, drug addiction and cultural oppression. These poems communicate an absurd, tragic sense of life, sometimes with humor. They reveal the role of the state and religion in both creating and neglecting these conditions. Papoleto encourages us to revolt, to create a freer world by rebelling, even in the smallest acts. This book is a gift of love.

—  Myrna Nieves, Ph.D., writer and editor of anthologies,
Professor at Boricua College in New York City

jesús papoleto meléndez is a living spanglish lexicon. Hey Yo! Yo Soy! is a testament to the dedication & documentation of the nuyorican experience. it carries so many words in between the pages: longevity, strength, survival, transformation. a very necessary piece in the literary history of puerto ricans in new york.

— Bonafide Rojas
Author of When The City Sleeps, Publisher, Grand Concourse Press

Hey Yo! Yo Soy! presents forty years of Meléndez’s poetry, the authentic sound – the songs – of life perceived through an “open window” in El Barrio. To begin, the poet announces himself in the rollicking, prancing title poem, “¡Hey Yo / Yo Soy!” The following sixty-plus poems echo the rhythms of El Barrio and reveal its inner life through sharply etched images. With distilled clarity, Meléndez renders the disappointment, loneliness, and anger of ugly ghetto streets and redeems that pain with his poet’s desire to hear the ‘lovely sounds’ and attain ‘new growth.’

— Evelyn A. Flory, Ph.D.
Head of School (Retired), St. Paul’s School for Girls, Baltimore


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