2020 LATA Awards: Jesús Papoleto Meléndez

Jesús Papoleto Meléndez is the recipient of an extraordinary 2020 Latin Alternative Theater Award (LATA Award) for his outstanding dramaturgy.
His play “The Yunkies Stole the Clock” was 46th years ago presented at New York Shakespeare Festival. In 2019, it was presented again at Frenzy Fest receiving 3 LATA Awards; Best Actor/Drama, Best Actress/Drama and Outstanding Dramaturgy.

JESÚS PAPOLETO MELÉNDEZ is an award-winning New York-born Puerto Rican poet who is recognized as one of the founders of the Nuyorican Movement. He is also a playwright, teacher and activist. Affectionately known as “Papo,” Meléndez published his first poem, “Message to Urban Sightseers” in Talkin’ About Us (1969). The publication of his earliest volumes of poetry, Casting Long Shadows (1970), Have You Seen Liberation (1971), and Street Poetry & Other Poems (1972), firmly established Meléndez as a prominent poet in the Nuyorican community. His other publications include Concertos On Market Street (Kemetic Images, 1994), which merged his Nuyorican melodies with a Southern California sensibility, and Hey Yo! Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry, A Bilingual Edition (2012) a compilation of his three previously published books from the 1970s. As the recipient of Pregones Theater’s 2014 Master Artist Award, selections from Hey Yo! Yo Soy! was made into a play of the same name, and performed at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in 2014. He recently published the poetry collection, PAPOLíTICO, Poems of a Political Persuasion (2018). Meléndez has taught as a poet-facilitator in the public school system in workshop programs in California and New York since the 1970s.

His work has been anthologized in numerous publications, recently in Pa’lante a La Luz — Charge Into The Light (Rogue Scholars Press, 2018), Word, An Anthology by A Gathering of the Tribes (2017), and Manteca, An Anthology of Afro-Latin@ Poets (Arte Publico Press, 2017). Meléndez is a NYFA Poetry Fellow (New York Foundation for the Arts, 2001), and has received the Union Settlement Association “Innovation Award” (2011), the Universes Poetic Ensemble Company Award in “Appreciation of Inspiration & Commitment to the Development of the Company” (2006); The 1st Annual El Reverendo Pedro Pietri Hand Award in Poetry, El Spirit Republic de Puerto Rico, El Puerto Rican Embassy (2006); The Louis Reyes Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award, Amherst College (2004); and an Artist for Community Enrichment (ACE) Award from the Bronx Council on the Arts (1995). Now an elder statesman of the New York poetry scene, Meléndez has become a mentor for emerging poets and writers.

(Information taken from the bio in Papoleto’s book BORRACHO (VERY DRUNK) Love Poems & Other Acts of Madness -Bilingual Edition, 2LeafPress)

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