Latino Poet Up for National Book Critics Circle Award

When he was a boy, the prize-winning poet Willie Perdomo witnessed the wildly unthinkable from a familiar, friendly perch, his third-floor window outside his El Barrio or Spanish Harlem project building in New York. The window was his cinematic frame.

“From there, I saw everything. I heard everything,” Perdomo told NBC News.

he window looked out on a connecting project building, where on the 6th floor rooftop, three boys played a high-risk, daredevil game of follow the leader. One, “Kid Torres” they called him, fast-walked the dangerously narrow ledge of the building’s 50-yard expanse as if it were a high wire. Perdomo feared the boy would plummet to what would surely be his death.

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In that moment, “I was thinking this is mythological, this is insane, this is legendary. Where else would one see something like this?” Perdomo recalled.

“Later on, it kind of dawned on me, if one were to ask me, ‘Why did you become a poet?’ In many ways, it’s me trying to walk on that ledge without falling,” said Perdomo.

The 47-year-old poet and author is walking the literary tightrope just fine these days and still marveling at his Nuyorican landscape. His newest collection, “The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon,” is generating high praise, including some from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz, who wrote on Perdomo’s website: “There is no poet alive who can match the lyrical intelligence, ferocious wit and searching humanity of Willie Perdomo. Perdomo is the hurricane we all write home about.”

Earlier this year, the National Book Critics Circle nominated “The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon” for its prestigious annual awards, given to the best autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, general nonfiction and poetry. Winners will be announced March 12th.

excerpted from NBC news

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