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.

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.


The Works of Piri Thomas


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)


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)

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


Home | The Film | The Poet | Nuyorican Literature | Filmmaker Bios | Filmmaker Q&A | Learn More | Talkback | Site Credits

Get The Video Talkback Learn More Filmmaker Q&A Filmmaker Bios Nuyorican Literature The Poet The Film EVERY CHILD IS BORN A POET: The Life and Work of
Piri Thomas