From a prize-winning poet, a new collection that chronicles a weekend in the life of a group of friends coming of age in East Harlem at the dawn of the hip-hop era.
Willie Perdomo, a native of East Harlem, has won praise as a hip, playful, historically engaged poet whose restlessly lyrical language mixes "city life with a sense of the transcendent" (NPR.org). In his fourth collection, The Crazy Bunch, Perdomo returns to his beloved neighborhood to create a vivid, kaleidoscopic portrait of a "crew" coming of age in East Harlem at the beginning of the 1990s. In poems written in couplets, vignettes, sketches, riffs, and dialogue, Perdomo recreates a weekend where surviving members of the crew recall a series of tragic events: "That was the summer we all tried to fly. All but one of us succeeded."
Praise for The Crazy Bunch:
"New York-born Puerto Rican poet Perdomo has been widely recognized for his streetwise lyrics and crackling depictions of life in NYC at the turn of the twenty-first century. In this collection of witty dialogue, fast couplets, and hip jargon, Perdomo immerses readers in his native East Harlem of the 1990s . . . Perdomo's colloquial, storytelling style is in full effect, replete with nostalgic recollections of childhood haunts, striking in their simplicity. The result is both a whirlwind of colorful rhythms and an enduring portrait of tight-knit friends suffering through loss. [Perdomo is] a talented wordsmith . . . quick-footed, hip, vivid, and savvy." --Booklist
"The Crazy Bunch is a miracle and a gift. An ars poetica that 'belly-sings the ambrosial hour' of an unforgettable crew. Street sonnets, gangsta ghazals, and Boricua blues stanzas face interrogation by the Poetry Cops, but these poems bust free. 'Who you again?' Don't bring your dictionary; Willie Perdomo rewrote the damn thing." --Evie Shockley
Willie Perdomo is the author of three previous poetry collections: Where a Nickel Costs a Dime, a finalist for the Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Award; Smoking Lovely, the winner of the 2004 PEN Open Book Award; and The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Poetry, BOMB and The Common. Perdomo teaches at the Phillips Exeter Academy.