Tato Laviera


Nuyorican poet Tato Laviera was born in Puerto Rico, the son of a philosopher and a writer. He moved to New York City in 1960, and was educated at Cornell University and Brooklyn College. Shifting between English and Spanish in his poetry, Laviera addresses themes of immigration, history, and transcultural identity. Laviera was the author of several collections of poetry, including La Carreta Made a U-Turn (1979), AmeRícan(1985), Mainstream Ethics (Etica corriente) (1988), and Mixturao and Other Poems (2008). He also wrote more than a dozen plays, including King of Cans, which premiered in 2012 at New York’s Red Carpet Theater. Laviera lived in New York, and dealt with diabetes and blindness until his death in 2013. Source

my graduation speech

i think in spanish

i write in english


i want to go back to puerto rico,

but i wonder if my kink could live

in ponce, mayagüez and carolina


tengo las venas aculturadas

escribo en spanglish

abraham in español

abraham in english

tato in spanish

"taro" in english

tonto in both languages


how are you?

¿cómo estás?

i don't know if i'm coming

or si me fui ya


si me dicen barranquitas, yo reply,

"¿con qué se come eso?"

si me dicen caviar, i digo,

"a new pair of converse sneakers."


ahí supe que estoy [  ]

ahí supe que estamos [  ]


english or spanish

spanish or english


now, dig this:


hablo lo inglés matao

hablo lo español matao

no sé leer ninguno bien


so it is, spanglish to matao

what i digo

             ¡ay, virgen, yo no sé hablar!





Literary Movements:

Nuyorican Movement

Anthology Years:





Humor & Satire


Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie