Francisco Alarcon was an important Mexican-American poet who influenced generations of Chicano writers, including the current U.S. poet laureate. Alarcon died of cancer last week.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We’re going to remember a poet now – a man who melded activism and art – Francisco Alarcon was a Mexican-American writer who used simple language to explore the complexities of Chicano life in the U.S. He died last week at the age of 61. Adrian Florido of NPR’s Code Switch team has this appreciation.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FRANCISCO ALARCON: (Speaking Spanish).

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Early this month, a crowd packed into the Cafe La Boheme in San Francisco’s Mission District to hear Francisco Alarcon read. Alarcon was a portly man with a long, black ponytail and a wide-open smile, even in sickness. The audience spilled onto the sidewalk with people craning their necks to hear him.

ALARCON: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORIDO: Alarcon was more than a poet. He was an activist. In April of 2010, nine demonstrators protested outside the Arizona State Capitol over the passage of S.B. 1070, the state’s controversial law targeting immigrants.

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