Pedigree by Vincent Toro

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Contributor Notes

The guanin was a charm worn by the Taino chiefs (caciques) in Puerto Rico that symbolized their nobility. The design of the guanin denoted their status in the tribe and on the island. The poem “Guanin,” envisions the island itself as a charm all Puerto Ricans wear, metaphorically speaking, to claim the nobility of our history. The poem uses the anaphora “this island” as the thread that links the jewels in each image or event the poems invokes to create a panorama of the island’s history.  “Guanin” is the culminating poem in my recently completed collection, “Stereo.Island.Mosaic.”

“Pedigree” is taken from the collection I am currently putting together, “Cartograffiti.” It is one of the first poems in the collection. The structure is the classic “where I’m from” poem, but my aim is to take this form and use it to construct an ethnography around the events, people, and places that have all worked to form my identity.


Vincent Toro is a Puerto Rican poet, playwright, and educator currently living in the Bronx. Winner of the  Metlife Nuestras Voces Playwriting  Award, winner of The City of San Antonio’s 2009 Golden Globe for Best Director for his staging of Suzan Lori Park’s Topdog/Underdog, San Antonio’s November 2008 artist of the month, recipient of an artist residency at The Atlantic Center for the Arts in 2001, and a finalist for the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize in 2004, Vincent’s poems have been published in Vallum Magazine, Rattapallax, Bordersenses, The San Antonio Express-News, CHORUS, edited by Saul Williams, Coloring Book: An Anthology of Multicultural Poems and Stories, and The Waiting Room Reader edited by Rachel Hadas. Vincent’s plays have been staged in New York at INTAR, Teatro La Tea, Hunt’s Point CDC, and Repertorio Espanol, and in Texas at The San Pedro Playhouse and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, where he served as the Theater Director from 2006-2010. His play “21” opens at Repertorio Espanol on May 16th.