EVERY CHILD IS BORN A POET: The Life and Work of Piri Thomas



The Poems

Piri Thomas’ creative impact is not limited to the written word. As seen in EVERY CHILD IS BORN A POET, Thomas’ poetry can take the form of storytelling, a spoken word performance, a musical “word song”—or all of the above.

Experience Piri Thomas performing
three of his acclaimed poems

Since the 1967 publication of his breakthrough novel
Down These Mean Streets, Thomas has dedicated himself to education and activism. His prose and poetry about struggle, survival and identity have continued to impact and inspire audiences around the world.

Thomas is also well-known as one of the pioneers of spoken word poetry, a form of poetry performance that has its roots in hip hop, performance art and the Beat poetry movement. By performing aloud, spoken word artists succeed in taking poetry out of the academia and onto the streets, breaking down barriers and making it accessible—both in its creation and its consumption—by the poor, the young and by other marginalized communities. Thomas mixes his spoken word poetry with Latin jazz, Caribbean music, salsa, rhythm and blues and gospel music.

Piri Thomas’ message of “unity among us” reinforces tenets of peace and social justices through prose, poetry and performance.

sources

The Works of Piri Thomas

Books

Down These Mean Streets
(Vintage, 1967; reprinted,1997; Spanish-language edition, 1998)

Savior, Savior Hold My Hand
(Doubleday, 1972)

Seven Long Times
(New American Library, 1975)

Stories from El Barrio
(Avon, 1980)

Recordings

Every Child is Born a Poet: The Life & Work of Piri Thomas
(American Clavé/EastWorks Entertainment, 2004)

Sounds of the Streets
(Cheverote, 1994)

No Mo’ Barrio Blues
(Cheverote, 1996)

Piri Thomas performs poems from EVERY CHILD IS BORN A POET
Standing in front of iron grates, Piri Thomas gestures towards the camera with his hand while reciting his poem “Born Anew At Each A.M.”
Read Poem View Video
“Born Anew At Each A.M.”

Eyes closed and hand raised dramatically, Piri Thomas performs his poem “Softly, Puerto Rican, You Ain’t Alone.”
Read Poem View Video
“Softly, Puerto Rican,
You Ain’t Alone”

Wearing glasses, dressed in a suit and tie, Piri Thomas stands alone on a crowded street as the poem “Sermon From the Ghetto” is read.
Read Poem View Video
“Sermon From the Ghetto/
The Eyes of My Heart”

“Words can be bullets or butterflies. The truth uplifts, while lies destroy. So say what you mean and mean what you say.”
 –Piri Thomas

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