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 school.
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. His 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 away.
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:
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.
Tuesday, March 18th @ 7pm
A Reading and Benefit for Jack Agüeros
Please join us as we honor the work of a dear friend and raise funds for the treatment of his Alzheimer's Disease. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.