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Gracias for Teaching Me to Love the Bad Magical Words, Piri Thomas

Thursday October 20, 2011
By Roberto Lovato
source: Of América

Very sad to hear of the passing of Piri, a genuinely sweet man whose first book, Down These Means Streets, was definitive during my youth.Back when we were called “minorities,” the stories in that book legitimized our lives in literature.

As a curious  kid who grew up down the mean street from housing projects like those Piri wrote about, I had to walk secretly to get a chair that raised me high enough to reach the shelf where Piri's book and the Autobiography of Malcolm X were hidden. These books were placed high on the shelf by my siblings and parents, who didn't want 11 year-old me learning those  "malas palabras" (bad words) filling those pages.

My siblings and parents got it wrong: Piri's words pulled and raised us up like the chair so that we could see the Good, and have some sense of our true stature; His words  were magical words written by a writer and committed soul whose journey from the grit & soul of Down These Mean Streets to the mellifluously sweet play captured in Every Child is Born a Poet touched this Word Wanderer Child forever. Gracias, Piri. Gracias, Companero. Piri Thomas, Presente!


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Prior to becoming a writer in 2004, I was a consultant to media companies and, depending on who's asking, I still provide a number of services to any number of select and different clients. Most of my business and organizational expertise orbits around these services: feasibility studies, business planning, combining online and offilne business and political campaign strategy. I also support public relations and communications work.