Jack Agueros (1934-2014) is a Puerto Rican-American poet, community activist, playwright, educator and a former director of El Museo del Barrio. He is the author of a collection of short stories and three collections of poetry. Jack Agueros's work across all mediums celebrates and highlights the complexities and struggles of the Puerto Rican American experience and more broadly the American experience. His poems typically implement traditional forms such as psalms and sonnets through which he explores subjects such as poverty, injustice and immigration. A prolific translator, during his career he translated numerous plays from Spanish to English as well as the complete works of the influential poets Julia de Burgos and Jose Marti.
Agueros was born in East Harlem, New York to recent Puerto Rican immigrants. His father Joaquin Agueros was a merchant marine and his mother Carmen Diaz worked as a seamstress. Jack Agueros graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in 1953 and then spent four years in the Air Force where he became a guided missile instructor. After leaving the Air Force, he continued his education at Brooklyn College where he graduated with a BA in English in 1964 and later pursued a MA in Urban Studies from Occidental College, graduating 1970. Agueros was introduced to the sonnet in high school, but it was during his time at Brooklyn College that he began to receive recognition for his playwriting and poetry. In May 2012 he received The Asan World Prize for Poetry.
As a community member and activist, Jack Agueros is celebrated for his time spent as the director of El Museo del Barrio--which collects Latin American and Caribbean art--where he helped to build the museum's permanent collection and implemented a series of gallery expansions. He was an organizer for the Henry Street Settlement, the deputy director of the Puerto Rican Community Development Project and the deputy commissioner of New York City's Community Development Agency, where in 1968 he staged a five-day hunger strike in his office to protest the lack of Puerto Ricans in New York City government. Throughout his career Agueros was also a regular guest poet at primary and secondary schools across the United States. As dedicated father, storyteller and educator he wrote carefully crafted picture books and plays for young people that addressed complex issues such as cultural heritage and environmentalism. Agueros is also celebrated for his broadcasting work for Sesame Street and WNBC-TV Channel 4. Agueros's written, visual and scholastic work encourages children to be inquisitive, thoughtful and proud of their personal identities.