Photo by George Malave
Jose Angel Figueroa was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. He graduated from Morris High School in the Bronx and received a full scholarship to NYU. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Education from New York University’s School of Education, a master’s Writing Fellowship from SUNY at Buffalo, and a P.D. in Educational Administration and Supervision from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education.
Poet, actor, playwright, literary editor, and a children’s literature specialist, Figueroa is also a language arts-in-education consultant with extensive administrative and teaching experience in public schools and in higher education. He has designed, edited, and published over 68 anthologies of children and youth original writings and multicultural oral stories sponsored by New York State Poets in Public Service, Teachers and Writers Collaborative Inc., and arts commissions from 1966 to 1990.
Figueroa is best known for his poetry – a diverse body of work that reflects searing social commentary about cultural, gender, economic and political issues related to the Latino experience in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Latin America. One of the poets associated with the early years of the Neorican literary movement of the mid-1960s and the Nuyorican Poets Café (1973), he is credited with being a major contributor to the Puerto Rican and Latino literary experience in The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America, Hispanic Condition: Reflections on Culture & Identity, and Harvard Educational Review. His writings are published in major anthologies and literary journals, including Black Creation, Latin NY, From the Belly of the Shark, Latin American Voices, For Chile, For Neruda, Nuyorican Poetry: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Words and Feelings, Puerto Rican Writers at Home in the USA, Papiros De Babel: Antología de la poesía puertorriqueña en Nueva York, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Red, White, and Blues: Poets On The Promise of America, Caribbean Erotic, and Amanecida: Antología Homenaje a Julia De Burgos. His major works include Un Espejo En Mi Propio Bastidor (Red Sugarcane Press), A Mirror In My Own Backstage (RSP), Hypocrisy Held Hostage, Noo Jork, and East 110th Street. Figueroa is also known for his work in the theater. He produced, wrote and directed A Tribute to the Life & Times & Work of Piri Thomas. His play Transnightification was directed by his mentor Raul Julia at the Joseph Papp’s Public Theater, and jazz opera King of the Crabs was staged at the Intar Hispanic American Theater. He also produced and directed the acclaimed Grassroots Poetry Series at Miriam Colon’s Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in NYC. Presently, he is a professor of Puerto Rican, Latin American and Caribbean Literature at Boricua College in the Bronx.