Rev. Pedro Pietri Is Live And Direct From The Flip Side Of Life


Rev. Pedro Pietri Is On The Other Side by vagabond ©
Rev. Pedro Pietri Is On The Other Side by vagabond © original photo of Pedro Pietri with head and hand by Nitza Trufino 

“To take you back, I was born in 1898, during the climax of the Spanish/American War. I say 1898 because that was the year that the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico, the year when they colonized us. Now, I was born again in ‘44 to my mother in Ponce, Puerto Rico and again in ’47, at the age of three, when my folks migrated to New York City through the epic of Operation Boot Strap. We’re all part of the casualties of the Inquisition, the American Inquisition.

I also say I was born in 1949, because that’s the day I went to the first theatre with my grandfather, who felt deceived by Operation Boot Strap and committed hara-kiri, but I don’t think it was suicide. He was killed by the system that deceived him, the system that made him sell his land in Borinquen. What happened was the disillusion. The voices in his head were of the Central Intelligence, compelling him to sever his jugular vein. Think about his friends. There’s nobody to talk to, nobody to communicate with, and there’s nothing to go back to, but the industrialization of the island that had deceived so many people. So, that was the first theatre I went to, at Monje’s Funeral Parlor, in a brown suit. Actually, that was my first teaching, or my first awareness of Puerto Rican history. Puerto Ricans die and go to a Puerto Rican funeral parlor. And Monje was a ghoul; he looked like a ghoul. How you going to have the name Monje, and be a proprietor of a funeral parlor? You’ll scare the customers away, but he didn’t scare us away. ” – Rev. Pedro Pietri
Source La Prensa San Diego 6th, Feb, 2004 

i’m working on trying to raise money for a new film called PAWNSHOP DREAM. It’s a film that’s heavily influenced by one Rev. Pedro Pietri. Who the hell is Rev. Pedro Pietri? Rev. Pedro Pierti was one of the original Nuyorican poets. Who were the Nuyorican Poets? The Nuyorican poets were a rag tag bunch of Puerto Rican who became poets at the literal barrel of US colonialism’s gun. They emerged from the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s living a schizophrenic existence in exile in the mean streets of New York because Puerto Rico is and continues to be a colony of the United States. Schizophrenic because Americans didn’t want them because they were Puerto Ricans and Puerto Ricans didn’t want them because now they were Americans. The result of that dual schizophrenic existence became the Nuyorican experience. But because Puerto Ricans are good with a blade these poets carved out a space with words and defined the unreality of what it meant to be Puerto Rican outside of Puerto Rico. In the process of doing that the Nuyorican poets grabbed poetry by the ankles turned it upside down and shook the change out it’s pockets.

No other poet captured the zeitgeist of the Nuyorican experience like Rev. Pedro Pietri . The proof is in the recipe of his 1974 epic poem, Puerto Rican Obituary. That poem was written in the El Barrio (East Harlem, NYC) apartment of Dylcia Pagan who is another huge influence on PAWNSHOP DREAM. If Rev. Pedro Pietri is the Revelation of PAWNSHOP DREAM, Dylcia Pagan, who is a former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner and prisoner of war, is the genesis. Puerto Rican Obituary took the schizophrenic unreality of Puerto Ricans in the ghettos of New York living in between two worlds while simultaneously living in both and wholeheartedly claimed the validity of it, in all it’s absurdity rather than rejecting it, in all it’s impossibility. In claiming to be in – and – from two different places at once Puerto Rican Obituary led the charge to fuse the fracture of a split existence. The idea of being in – and – from two places at once is a part of the psychological fallout of colonization. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US since 1898 and was a colony of Spain for almost 400 years before that. What Rev. Pedro Pietri and the other Nuyorican Poets did was painfully, playfully and poetically work through the fracture of being colonized and fuse together a mismatched unreality to recreate what it meant to be Puerto Rican within a fractured colonized existence. Check out this excerpt of Rev. Pedro Pietri reciting Puerto Rican Obituary…

Rev. Pedro Pietri’s poetry could be described as surreal dadaism from the streets. His poetry is filled with resolving the conflicting unreality of living here and there at the same time and in the same space. He flipped the polarizing affects of opposing ideas and made them attract. He used what seemed like nonsense to make sense of a world that’s never made sense. It’s this quality of his work that is a huge influence on PAWNSHOP DREAM. To understand what i’m talking about here is a poem from Rev. Pedro Pietri called Traffic Misdirector from his book Traffic Violations…

TRAFFIC MISDIRECTOR
the greatest living poet
in new york city
was born in Puerto Rico
his name is Jorge Brandon
he is 70 years old
he carries his metaphor
in brown shopping bags
inside steel shopping cart
he travels around with
on the streets of manhattan
he recites his poetry
to whoever listens
& when nobody is around
he recites to himself
he speaks the wisdom
of unforgotten palm trees
the vocabulary of coconuts
that wear overcoats
the traffic lights
of his poems function
without the boring advice
from ac or dc current
book stores & libraries
are deprived of his vibes
to become familiar
with this immortal poet
you have to hang-out
on  street corners
building stoops rooftops
fire escapes bars parks
subway train stations
bodegas botanicas
iglesias pawn shops
card games cock fights
funerals valencia bakery
hunts point palace
pool halls orchard beach
& cuchifrito stands
on the lower east side
the admission is free
his presence is poetry

PAWNSHOP DREAM is about a young girl who puts a pretty box of sand she see in a pawnshop window on layaway. The concept of layaway itself is surreal. An item on layaway belongs to the one who pays, but is in the possession of the one who collects payment. As long as one keeps paying for the item it belongs to them and cannot be sold to another but until it’s paid for it completely it cannot be fully claimed. This is a perfect metaphor for the colonial relationship that the US has with Puerto Rico. It’s obvious that Puerto Rico belongs to Puerto Ricans but the US won’t relinquish their illegitimate claim. In PAWNSHOP DREAM the girl grows up paying until she’s finally had enough…

PAWNSHOP DREAM and this metaphor for Puerto Rican colonialism is also an apt metaphor for the current demands of the recent Occupy Wall Street movement. i think that the roots of rampant unchecked capitalism can be traced right back to the colonization of the Americas. What PAWNSHOP DREAM is trying to do is connect the schizophrenic idea that capitalism colonizes all of us… The colonization of nations by capitalism is not unlike the colonization of persons by capitalism… In each case capitalism is served with the exploitation of people…

In 2004 the good right Rev. Pedro Pietri died of stomach cancer which he felt was attributed to his exposure to Agent Orange when he was drafted into the Vietnam War. He may have flipped over to the flip side of life however his influence can be felt in the script of PAWNSHOP DREAM and is sure to be felt in the film once it’s completed. In a way Rev. Pedro Pietri is live and direct from the flip side life in PAWNSHOP DREAM.

You can help the surreal script of PAWNSHOP DREAM become a surreal film… There are two ways to do this… Donate financially or spread the word about the campaign… Any way you choose is very much appreciated…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-vy

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