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"We're hung up in the middle, with no place to go." They don't want us here, in the land of the Yankees and in Puerto Rico they deny us our heritage.

Creativity: it's the strength, the power, it's healing. Creativity was my salvation in prison because it kept me from becoming a vegetable or a psychopath. It opened worlds up to me where I could time travel with the power of my mind because of the anguish to be free, out of that canary cage.

                                                                                                               ----Piri Thomas

Author Piri Thomas died on October 23 at the age of 83 in California, away from the city of birth (New York) and the land that he loved (Puerto Rico).

Piri is best known for his memoir, DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS, which chronicled his life growing up in Spanish Harlem, his drug addiction and his time in prison. Many compared it to THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X.

Piri wrote the original draft while in jail. When he went to show it to an editor years later, he found that the kids had destroyed it while playing so his wife threw it away. He cried, he yelled and he got down to writing it again. His book became an instant best seller and went on to become required reading in high schools and colleges. He also wrote poetry and prose, and read them to music. Today, we would call that rap. Aside from his writing and composing, Piri spent his life working with youth programs and organizations.

One of his best interviews was with Carmen Hernandez of San Juan's El Nuevo Dia. Read it by clicking here.

Visit Piri’s official website to find out more about the man and his works by clicking here.

And in his memory, dust off your copy of DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS and read it again.

Rest in Peace, Piri.