Miguel Piñero


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(1946–1988), writer. The poet and playwright Miguel Piñero is best known for Short Eyes (1974), the play about prison life that won him a New York Drama Critics Circle Award. He grew up on New York's Lower East Side at a time when its streets were still mean, nursed a heroin addiction throughout his short life, and as a young man moved in and out of jail for burglary and drug possession. It was during a stint for armed robbery at Ossining Correctional Facility (Sing Sing) that he came to writing. Piñero's life events resemble those of the better-known Piri Thomas, the author of the fictionalized autobiography Down These Mean Streets (1967), who also was addicted to drugs, hustled Harlem's streets, and went to jail, where he honed his writing. Unlike Thomas, however, who claimed religion as redemption and turned his back on the street at the end of his famous book, Piñero never let go of his criminal persona, in either his work or his life.


From The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: United States History.

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