The Thinking Man - Poem by gabbie good
Miguel Piñero was born in Gurabo, Puerto Rico on December 9th 1946.
With his parents he arrived in New York at the age of 4 and following the desertion of his father in 1954, Manuel and his mother moved into a basement and had to live off welfare. He gained the first of what would be many criminal convictions for theft. This was at the age of eleven. He was sent to the Juvenile Detention Center in the Bronx. Subsequently Piñero joined a street gang called 'The Dragons' and by the time he was 14 he was hustling in the streets. Piñero was a drug addict before he reached his 20s and had a long criminal record.
By 1972 when Piñero was 25 he was incarcerated in the notorious Sing Sing Prison. This was for armed robbery. Ir was while serving time in prison that he wrote the powerful play Short Eyes as part of a playwriting workshop for inmates. The play is based on his experiences in prison and portrays life and death among prison inmates.
In 1974 the play was performed at the Riverside Church in Manhattan where theater impresario Joseph Papp watched it. Papp was so impressed that he moved the production onto Broadway where it gained rapid success. The play was nominated for six Tony Awards, it won an Obie Award for the best play of the year as well as the New York Critics Circle Award. The play was also succesful in Europe and gained Pinero a strong literary status. Short Eyes has been published in book form by the editorial house Hill & Yang. Piñero continued to write after he left prison and he also began to act with small film roles.
In the 1970s, Piñero co-founded the Nuyorican ('New York-Puerto Rican') Poets Cafe with a group of artists including Miguel Algarin, who became one of his best friends. The Poets Cafe is a place for performance of poetry based on the experience of being a Puerto Rican in New York. In 1977 'Short Eyes' was turned into a film directed by Robert M. Young and Piñero played the part of 'Go-Go', one of the prisoners.
Pinero was by now considered a talented writer who could describe the evils of society. This was despite his continued drug addiction.
Piñero wrote an episode for the Miami Vice TV series in 1984 and also the movie script for his own play Short Eyes.
Piñero died on 16th June 1988 in New York City and his ashes were scattered across the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His life was made into a movie (Pinero) and the part of Miguel Piñero was portrayed by Benjamin Bratt. The film was directed by Leon Ichaso.
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