A first book of poems by one of the best new voices to emerge from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.
Perdomo, a regular performer at Manhattan's Nuyorican Poets Cafe, is a scruffy organizer of his experience, throwing his poetics together tenement style. In the irresistible, high-spirited "Nigger-Reecan Blues," he insists, "Yo soy Boricua! Yo soy Africano! I ain't/ lyin'. Pero mi pelo is kinky y curly y mi skin no es negro pero it can pass . . ." Drawing on rap, jazz, Langston Hughes and the rhythms of the streets, this collection bristles with congas, timbales, police sirens and wino oracles, "singing a celebration of the island/ that some of us will never see." In poems that are scalding, toxic and dizzying, Perdomo reminds us that there is something wrong when feeling joy suggests mangled sanity: "I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I noticed I went to more funerals than parties this summer." (Feb.)