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Penguin: Penguin Books Spring 2019

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The Crazy Bunch
By (author): Willie Perdomo
9780143132691 Paperback, Trade English General Trade POETRY / American / General Apr 02, 2019
$24.00 CAD
Active 5.45 x 8.4 x 0.37 in 128 pages Penguin Books
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” ( 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.”

PRIZE-WINNING POET: Perdomo’s first collection was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, his second was the winner of the PEN Beyond Margins Award, and his third and most recent collection was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

WIDELY ADMIRED IN LITERARY COMMUNITY: Perdomo’s previous books have received endorsements from Major Jackson, Aracelis Girmay, Jessica Hagedorn, Chris Abani, Tyehimba Jess, and Adrian Matejka.

DISTINCTIVE VOICE: Perdomo’s poetry has great musicality, a hip swagger, and the unmistakable authenticity of the streets; the language rhythms take on a life of their own and soar.

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.

Author Residence: Exeter, New Hampshire

Marketing: Social media and online promotion

Library promotions / Twitter

Publicity: Print and online reviews and features

Radio interviews

Author Website:

Author Social Media: Twitter: @WilliePerdomo

Advance 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 ofchildhood 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

“Twenty years after Where a Nickel Costs a Dime, the poet emerges from the lived experience of urban culture with a mature blossoming. Perdomo writes with a faith in the beauty of the intersectionality of what makes East Harlem all things. Perdomo’s is a love that awakens in the beauty of the present moment, with an architecture that pays homage to a culture under siege, to those who died and those who survive in the collective genius of one’s own song.” —Afaa M. Weaver

The Crazy Bunch possesses the thickness of a book of short stories, and its poems are filled with brio and brilliant language, comedy and grief, nostalgia and notoriety. Perdomo has produced here a new classic, an essential contribution to American literature.” —David Mura

“While ostensibly about a small crew in 1990’s East Harlem, this collection is in effect a most indelible ode to a people, a place, an era. The Crazy Bunch is full of wit and charm and humor; full of hip-hop history and compelling story; full of the keenest of revelations and language that reads as if running off electric current.” —Mitchell S. Jackson

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