3:00 p.m. Any Hot Summer Afternoon: Best Unsung Hero 

Piri Thomas

As part of the "Arte Latino" Smithsonian exhibition at the Oakland Museum last year, La Peña Cultural Center organized a spoken-word forum headed by renowned poet and author Piri Thomas. As he sat, patiently listening to young poets like Darren de Leon throwing down verses about life's realities, his serene face gleamed with the wisdom of an elder listening to his children. Piri and others helped start the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City during the mid-1970s. Using art as a medium, they channeled their experiences of the hard-knock 1950s and '60s in Spanish Harlem's El Barrio. For Thomas, that experience was spending seven years in prison and coming out with a new will to live, having learned the power of the written and spoken word. In 1967 he wrote the urban drama Down These Mean Streets, which has been in print ever since. A longtime Berkeley resident, his CDs Sounds of the Street and No Mo' Barrio Blues offer great examples of what he calls "wordsongs," fusions of spoken word and music that champion unity -- something the world needs more of right about now.

Readers' Pick (tie): Jerry Brown/ Barbara Lee


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Latest in People & Places

Most Popular Stories

  • When Weed Isn't Strong Enough

    New restrictions on THC in edibles has left some medical cannabis patients scrambling.
  • Will Corporations Ruin Live Music in the Bay Area?

    Promoters say that corporate saturation in San Francisco concerts means costlier tickets, boring music, and shutters for independent venues. What does it mean for the East Bay?
  • Feeding on Local Newspapers

    A "vulture" hedge fund has been sucking the profits out of the East Bay Times and Mercury News for its other ventures. And local journalists want it to stop.
  • Poverty's 'Progressive' Cheerleaders

    Legions of liberals front for the gig economy Trojan Horse of inequality. They should be ashamed.
  • West Oakland's Food Desert Remains

    A shopping plaza where the city and community partners have been trying to open a supermarket for more than a decade was sold in the fraud case against the former Tribune Tower owner.

Special Reports

Holiday Guide 2017

A guide to this holiday season's gifts, outings, eats, and more.

Taste, Fall 2017

© 2018 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation