The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon

Poems

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Paperback
$24.00 US
5.46"W x 8.42"H x 0.23"D  
On sale Mar 25, 2014 | 80 Pages | 9780143125235
| Grades 9-12 + AP/IB
A suite of poems about a percussionist in 1970 Spanish Harlem music circles, from the author of The Crazy Bunch

A National Book Critics Circle 2014 Finalist for Poetry


Through dream song and elegy, alternate takes and tempos, prizewinning poet Willie Perdomo’s third collection crackles with vitality and dynamism as it imagines the life of a percussionist, rebuilding the landscape of his apprenticeship, love, diaspora, and death. At the beginning of his infernal journey, Shorty Bon Bon recalls his live studio recording with a classic 1970s descarga band, sharing his recollection with an unidentified poet. This opening section is followed by a call-and-response with his greatest love, a singer named Rose, and a visit to Puerto Rico that inhabits a surreal nationalistic dreamscape, before a final jam session where Shorty recognizes his end and a trio of voices seek to converge on his elegy.
© Jon Crispin

Willie Perdomo is the author of Smoking Lovely: The Remix, The Crazy Bunch, The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, and Where a Nickel Costs a Dime. Winner of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly Award for Poetry, the New York City Book Award, and a PEN Open Book Award, Perdomo was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award. He is co-editor of the anthology Latínext, and his work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, African Voices, and Best American Poetry 2019. He teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy and was recently appointed State Poet of New York, 2021-2023.

View titles by Willie Perdomo
Praise for The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon:
 
“A vivid portrait of a late-20th century Nuyorican musical community. . .Perdomo manages to mix the language of city life with a sense of the transcendent.”—NPR.org
 
“With his new collection of poems, Perdomo offers a soulful melody that is as deep and vital and dynamic as the poet’s roots in New York City’s Nuyorican poetry scene. . .his third book is mined from the marrow of salsa and steeped in the spirit of son and cocolos that inhabit the poet’s beating heart. . .With Shorty, Willie exercises a mastery of language and imagery that hums us into a furious clave of grace.”—Poets and Writers
 
“Willie Perdomo’s lines are ritualistic codes whose speaking is likely to summon the saints or ‘whistle evil out of [your] garden.’  If your ears, feet, and heart have not been initiated yet into the myth-making genius, sly observances, hip-speak, and erudition of this poet’s pen then The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon is your body’s reparation and reconciliation act, your own bomb-diggity.”—Major Jackson, author of Holding Company
 
"In these poems, Perdomo gathers the shards of what has been broken or lost and forges a relentlessly lyrical language out of the fragments, reminding us that this, when done lovingly, urgently, astutely, is a way to both recover and survive history. This is a gorgeous, historically engaged collection of poems from a poet in the depths of his true language and practice."—Aracelis Girmay, author of Teeth and Kingdom Animalia

The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon is combustible poetry, bursting with love and longing and the potent tropical rhythms that fuel Willie Perdomo’s imagination.”—Jessica Hagedorn, author of Toxicology and Dogeaters

“Reading The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon is like walking into a Bembé, just at the moment when the gods have descended, the moment between the silence of awe and the still shrill cry of the singers. And Perdomo's skill and lyrical voice is like a wet finger drawn slowly, agonizingly over the taut skin of a drum face, until the very last moment when it explodes into beat. A beautiful, accomplished book.”—Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas and The Virgin of Flames
 
"How did we do without this book for so long? Willie Perdomo excavates the history and colors of son and salsa down to the bones of slavery and into the vivid streets of Nuyorican America. This descarga of a book, this Bembé of poetry will set up in the middle of your palms, mold your head into a conga polyrhythm and never miss a beat.  Best pay attention, ya'll."—Tyehimba Jess, author of Leadbelly

“Willie Perdomo is one of the funkiest poets writing today. Every one of his poems comes with its own soundtrack, so it makes sense that he could give us a collection as original and melodious as The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon. Like the imaginary percussionist the book is named after, this collection is part myth, part elegy, and all rhythm. Through these remarkable poems, we see the intimate moments of a man whose life is driven by drums and who, in the end, makes us all more aware of the music we live in.”—Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke 

About

A suite of poems about a percussionist in 1970 Spanish Harlem music circles, from the author of The Crazy Bunch

A National Book Critics Circle 2014 Finalist for Poetry


Through dream song and elegy, alternate takes and tempos, prizewinning poet Willie Perdomo’s third collection crackles with vitality and dynamism as it imagines the life of a percussionist, rebuilding the landscape of his apprenticeship, love, diaspora, and death. At the beginning of his infernal journey, Shorty Bon Bon recalls his live studio recording with a classic 1970s descarga band, sharing his recollection with an unidentified poet. This opening section is followed by a call-and-response with his greatest love, a singer named Rose, and a visit to Puerto Rico that inhabits a surreal nationalistic dreamscape, before a final jam session where Shorty recognizes his end and a trio of voices seek to converge on his elegy.

Author

© Jon Crispin

Willie Perdomo is the author of Smoking Lovely: The Remix, The Crazy Bunch, The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, and Where a Nickel Costs a Dime. Winner of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly Award for Poetry, the New York City Book Award, and a PEN Open Book Award, Perdomo was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award. He is co-editor of the anthology Latínext, and his work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, African Voices, and Best American Poetry 2019. He teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy and was recently appointed State Poet of New York, 2021-2023.

View titles by Willie Perdomo

Praise

Praise for The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon:
 
“A vivid portrait of a late-20th century Nuyorican musical community. . .Perdomo manages to mix the language of city life with a sense of the transcendent.”—NPR.org
 
“With his new collection of poems, Perdomo offers a soulful melody that is as deep and vital and dynamic as the poet’s roots in New York City’s Nuyorican poetry scene. . .his third book is mined from the marrow of salsa and steeped in the spirit of son and cocolos that inhabit the poet’s beating heart. . .With Shorty, Willie exercises a mastery of language and imagery that hums us into a furious clave of grace.”—Poets and Writers
 
“Willie Perdomo’s lines are ritualistic codes whose speaking is likely to summon the saints or ‘whistle evil out of [your] garden.’  If your ears, feet, and heart have not been initiated yet into the myth-making genius, sly observances, hip-speak, and erudition of this poet’s pen then The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon is your body’s reparation and reconciliation act, your own bomb-diggity.”—Major Jackson, author of Holding Company
 
"In these poems, Perdomo gathers the shards of what has been broken or lost and forges a relentlessly lyrical language out of the fragments, reminding us that this, when done lovingly, urgently, astutely, is a way to both recover and survive history. This is a gorgeous, historically engaged collection of poems from a poet in the depths of his true language and practice."—Aracelis Girmay, author of Teeth and Kingdom Animalia

The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon is combustible poetry, bursting with love and longing and the potent tropical rhythms that fuel Willie Perdomo’s imagination.”—Jessica Hagedorn, author of Toxicology and Dogeaters

“Reading The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon is like walking into a Bembé, just at the moment when the gods have descended, the moment between the silence of awe and the still shrill cry of the singers. And Perdomo's skill and lyrical voice is like a wet finger drawn slowly, agonizingly over the taut skin of a drum face, until the very last moment when it explodes into beat. A beautiful, accomplished book.”—Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas and The Virgin of Flames
 
"How did we do without this book for so long? Willie Perdomo excavates the history and colors of son and salsa down to the bones of slavery and into the vivid streets of Nuyorican America. This descarga of a book, this Bembé of poetry will set up in the middle of your palms, mold your head into a conga polyrhythm and never miss a beat.  Best pay attention, ya'll."—Tyehimba Jess, author of Leadbelly

“Willie Perdomo is one of the funkiest poets writing today. Every one of his poems comes with its own soundtrack, so it makes sense that he could give us a collection as original and melodious as The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon. Like the imaginary percussionist the book is named after, this collection is part myth, part elegy, and all rhythm. Through these remarkable poems, we see the intimate moments of a man whose life is driven by drums and who, in the end, makes us all more aware of the music we live in.”—Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke 

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