The Crazy Bunch
Author: Willie Perdomo
Publisher: Penguin Random House (2019)
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). 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.”
“Moving between paean and elegy with incredible verve, these poems, full of affection and nostalgia, also memorialize moments of violence and loss . . . Pushing the notion of documentary poetics in addressing street violence, police brutality, and suicide, Perdomo invites the voices from his childhood to reveal themselves and their complexities in vividly rendered speech.”