Published On: Mon, Jun 11th, 2012

NYC’s Cultural Avengers: The Sangre Viva Arts Alliance

Every day of the week there are some kinds of life altering artistic happenings in the cultural hot pot that is New York City. Somewhere uptown the dopest lyricists are spitting fire in smooth cyphers firing up the young bucks who’ve just learned the sounds of their own voices. Bohemian activists are teaching a cooking workshop in a sister’s home and swapping clothing in an effort to recycle and take care of one another. Bomba y plena beat rhythmic religion into those seeking the pulse of their ancestors in their blood. And in the silence of their homes, when the world is just waking or has settled in to decompress, they will write those memories and what was stirred up. Some will scribble a story about the first time KRS-One moved them, some will write about the remembrance of a tragic moment jolted loose by a song they heard and others will write about the sense of hopeful satisfaction they find when their children’s eyes brighten upon witnessing the beautiful dancers on stage in their flailing white dresses. There is a consistent need to tell the story.

In late 2010 I was contacted by Rosalie Roman from the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College asking me, as a coordinator of the Acentos Poetry Workshop & representative of Acentos Poetry Foundation, to put an event together for National Poetry month. I knew just where to begin. We are, quite simply, art hounds creating multi-media events embracing the whole Latino arts community. Amongst us are artists of all kinds, from literature to hip-hop; painters creating fine art, moody lowbrow, sensual pin-ups and out this world grafitti; We often blend these different art forms together giving our events a robust ambience. We enjoy musicians who play across the spectrum: latin jazz, rock, electronica, salsa, bomba y plena. It has been a full on sensory feast. You can see, hear feel and even taste our culture and passion as our events are sometimes catered by culinary masters! We take turns hopping from one offering after another to keep the art flowing, to keep inspired and giving! I wanted to bring us together as a family, con un apellido. Thus was born Sangre Viva Arts Alliance.

As this event was for National Poetry Month we would begin with the poets. Together we read up and down those train lines, across the U.S., taking it over seas, for the sake of art, charity and quite frankly, to support ourselves and families using our talents & skills. I invited people whose work has effected change for a sit down to discuss the past, present and future of “the community”, as we refer to our network. Representatives from Acentos Poetry Foundation, Capicu Poetry & Cultural Showcase, the NYC Latina Writer’s Group, Hispanic Panic, Grito de Poetas, La Loba Poetry Series were present. We would honor the Father of Nuyorican poetry with the Jesús Colón Memorial calendar of events which would allow people to be able check out what poetry events were happening throughout the month of April. Jesús Colón, who wrote, “Sometimes one thing happens to change your life. How you look at things, how you look at yourself,” in Little Things are Big… didn’t know it then but we have since then been doing a lot of little things, and changing a lot of lives.

Sangre Viva Art Alliance would begin the official journey together with Boricua Diaspora: An Intergenerational Conversation. What would truly make this event special, was the intergenerational conversation with esteemed poets who made their marks on the scene in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s. Vivacious poet host Juan ‘Papo Swiggity’ Santiago opened the conversation with a bit of history, a lot of reality and as always a few good jokes, effortlessly setting a warm lively tone for the evening. After some encouraging words from esteemed author Pedro Lopez Adorno, we enjoyed readings from Sangre Viva members and then opened up conversation with the panel; “La Madrina”, the Godmother of Nuyorican Poetry, Sandra Maria Esteves, Willie Perdomo, Rich Villar would speak of the poetry scene and their experience in the 70s, 80s & 90s. To my great surprise it was strongly suggested that I sit on the panel representing a fairly new presence, having begun reading my work for the public in 2008. I was grateful for their vote of confidence and humbly took my place on the panel with my friends and colleagues. It was a great pleasure sharing our experiences with the poets, fans, writers, faculty and students in attendance. We learned a bit more about what it was like for each writer to begin their poetry careers, how their career has evolved and what it’s like now that there is a firm foundation for those seeking to add their voices. It was received wonderfully, setting a precedent for subsequent Sangre Viva endeavors. As powerful as these groups are individually, our ability to accomplish together is limitless. And when it was all over, there was flan!

There was no doubt that this thing resonated with the people but our separate groups, careers and the daily grind kept us from building on the discussions that stemmed from our first adventure together. But the conversations never stopped, it was alive and pulsating, just waiting for the right moment to rise into it’s next slot on the timeline. Visionary community leaders Papo Swiggity and George “Urban Jibaro” Torres recently received an opportunity to do a prose fiction/biography style literary event in conjunction with Steve Jimenez & Fordham Universitys Office of Multicultural Affairs, and we are ready to launch the second Sangre Viva poetry event & panel discussion. With so many of us publishing books or talking about how to go about it (e-book or paper? publishing companies or self-publish?), it felt right to being it to the people. And so, it is with great joy that we have the honor of hosting illustrious authors Linda Nieves Powell (Latino Flavored Productions), Ivan Sanchez, Charlie Vasquez (Hispanic Panic Reading Series & Fireking Press), Erik Maldonado (Advocate Of Wordz of Grito De Poetas) and Peggy Robles-Alvarado (NYC Latina Writers Group) with moderator Rich Villar of Acentos Writers, on June 23rd at Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus in the Bronx. Sangre Viva Arts Alliance members will be there in full force sharing their experiences as well. We’ve talked about why we do this, now let’s discuss how to do it right in an enjoyable atmosphere. We write, we read, we perform, we share, but ultimately, what many artists whose mission involves the written word wants is to publish for posterity. And because you know how we do from birth to death, light refreshments will be available early on, provided by our friends at ‘Latinos in Tech Innovation & Social Media’ (LATISM).

We’re looking forward to seeing writers of all ages and stages in their careers there. Let’s make history, mi gente! And hopefully there will be flan!

 Limited Space – Reserve Your Free Ticket To This Historical Event Now


When Jesús Colón said, “Sometimes one thing happens to change your life, how you look at things, how you look at yourself,” in Little Things are Big he didn’t have any idea that we would be doing a lot of positive little things, and changing a lot of lives for the better. Pero por ahi vamos, pa’lante. 

Como mi hermano, Papo siempre dice, “¡Elevación!”

Jani Rose

Community Coordinator
Sangre Viva Arts Alliance


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NYC’s Cultural Avengers: The Sangre Viva Arts Alliance