Smoking Lovely

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Like a dose of Jim Carroll's Basketball Diaries, and a Billie Holiday song with a Miguel Pinero chaser, Willie Perdomo's long awaited follow-up to his powerful debut is a sizzling cocktail of drug addiction, love, recovery, and truth. The familiar Lexington Avenue of East Harlem continues to be his Yoknapatawpha but the world has become his lab in this collection of serious prose and gunfire verse. These poems find room to depict the change in urban scenery, the de-romanticization of withdrawal, a homeless man's ...
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2003 Trade paperback First edition. Stated 1st edition Very good. Ex-lib, but VG, no card pouch, some library stamps and labels, CD included! First edition. Audience: ... General/trade. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Like a dose of Jim Carroll's Basketball Diaries, and a Billie Holiday song with a Miguel Pinero chaser, Willie Perdomo's long awaited follow-up to his powerful debut is a sizzling cocktail of drug addiction, love, recovery, and truth. The familiar Lexington Avenue of East Harlem continues to be his Yoknapatawpha but the world has become his lab in this collection of serious prose and gunfire verse. These poems find room to depict the change in urban scenery, the de-romanticization of withdrawal, a homeless man's spin on empowerment zones, the global humor of a drug run and the reflective clarity of a train ride. As the poet declares in "Lexington Avenue Prelude," "This is the face-to-face appointment with the Department of Human Resources/That you can't miss even if you tried."
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Editorial Reviews

Sapphire
Smoking Lovely, Willie Perdomo's second volume of poetry, confirms his hard won place in American letters. Addiction, poverty, class and racial identity, love and recovery are examined with a devastating and streetwise voice, marked with irrefutable artistic integrity and craftsmanship. These poems sing, howl, and heal with a sad and searing wisdom akin to genius. Smoking Lovely is destined to become not just one of the best books of the year but of the decade.
author of Push
Publishers Weekly
Given, on the one hand, the oral roots of poetry, and on the other, exponentially improving and cost-effective sound reproduction, the modernist breech between page and stage is finally starting to close. Trying to reproduce the live energy, exchange and affect of the "spoken word" solely on the page is an enterprise doomed from the start; rather than CD's acting as "extras," such books-plus-discs should be seen as recorded poetry with lyric sheets. In the case of Perdomo, a veteran slam poetry performer and author of Where a Nickel Costs a Dime, making the psychic shift whereby the CD becomes the primary document makes for a transformative "reading" experience. There is no notation, or at least not one as powerful, for Perdomo's pitch-perfect intonations, subtle affective sarcasms, and mellifluous code switchings and bilingualisms. Ditto the lightning-fast enjambments that help make Perdomo's performances so effective-lost in transcription. It is often the more punctuated prose sections that most effectively accompany Perdomo's spoken text, reminding the reader how much so many spoken-word artists have had to overcome in order to be heard at all: "I wanted to play this like Petrarch and bless you with a/ suite of sonnets. But I can't rock sonnets, so I thought/ I would write you 100 letters for 100 days, but I'm getting/ discharged tomorrow morning, so I'll say what I need to/ say on the back of this Patient Bill of Rights." Perdomo is a necessary and insistent voice in the current American literary scene, one that here forwards a hybrid medium in which his-and perhaps those of other spoken-word artists-experiences can be properly presented to a larger public. Shelve this record like a book. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781892494610
  • Publisher: Rattapallax Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2003
  • Edition description: BK&CD
  • Pages: 68
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Willie Perdomo

Willie Perdomo is the author of VISITING LANGSTON, which received a Coretta Scott King Honor. He is a winner of the PEN Beyond Margins Award and lives in New York City. www.willieperdomo.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2004

    Inhaling Perdomo

    When Willie Perdomo wrote, ¿The Notes for a Slow Jam ¿ I wanted to play this like Petrarch and bless you with a suite of sonnets. But I can¿t rock sonnets, so I thought I would write you 100 letters for 100 days,¿ it was over for me. I had to call up a friend, read the entire piece and just say, ¿damn.¿ If poetic skill could be equated to narcotic potency, Willie Perdomo¿s Smoking Lovely would be an illegal substance. He is phenomenal poet, the epitome of Nuyorican poetry, blending Spanish and English metaphors seamlessly, with a singularity and power that is halting. Often in the world of Spoken Word poetry, what sounds good does not translate with equal prowess to paper. Willie Perdomo is master of both page and stage, evidencing the beauty and majesty that is born when great writing weds great performance. His metaphoric world reflects images of violence and humor, love and stink, drug abuse, prison and overcoming. Everything that is New York City sweet and sour is delivered with honesty. A CD that accompanies the book, read by the author, is an added bonus, offering an even more intimate view into the Perdomo poetic window. There are no music tracks to camouflage or hide behind. None are needed, as his verse alone seizes ears. In one poem he writes, ¿¿there¿s a disco ball spinning starlight on the New Boogaloo.¿ I write, the spinning starlight is Willie Perdomo¿s talent, and the New Boogaloo is Smoking Lovely.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2004

    Smokin Lovely

    Smokin Lovely exposes the reader to the nuyorican experience. This journey is filled with drug addiction, truth, love, and racial identity. Such as the poem about the physical contact between two crack heads described through their dry lips and hollow cheek bones. His poems are full of humor, irony, wisdom, sadness, and energy. Willie Perdomo does a nice job of articulating the pain that comes from living in the inner cities. He effectively gives a voice to the voiceless; to the crack heads, to the prostitutes, to the everyday blue collar workers. ¿Seasaw¿ is a poem that deals with drug addiction and the desire to stop. His poems are often infused with Spanish, which adds to the imagery. Images of the city and the colorful array of people living there are also well-expressed. His book overall is powerful and moving.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2004

    Smoking it is!

    It is great when someone has the ability to take their experiences of life and put them on page to be explored by the world. This book talks the breath and life of growing up in the NYC and being a minority. The struggle, pain and love for his New York enviornment of urban struggle, pride and triumph is all displayed throught 'Smoking Lovely'. This book is good for those wanting to learn how to craft experiences into great prose.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2004

    Exploring Poetry in a Biblical Sense

    Willie Perdomo says it all about the Nuyorican experience in Smoking Lovely. You read it and then feel re-birthed when listening to it. The book explores poetry in a biblical sense. Like the bible, it addresses the history of poetry, the history of spoken word and the reality of struggles facing the everyday poet. There is a constant tone held throughout the collection of poetry that stays above boring but manages to maintain a calm voice with conviction. The pain, the joy, and the experience of struggle, and the experience of spoken word is heard in the tone of the narrator's voice. He does a fantastic job of explicating his version of the Nuyorican experience and contributing to the cannon of writers. The narrating voice is not just that of Perdomo, but other, possibly all Nuyorican poets. Perdomo takes a reader on a journey beyond the walls of The Nuyorican Poets Café. This book invokes laughter and feelings of amazement amongst the readers because Perdomo is witty, wise and flavorful in his writing. This book of poetry is truly the expression of struggle, addictions, family, love and spoken word.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2004

    ¿How Fast Your Face Melts¿: Imagery and Language in Willie Perdomo¿s Smoking Lovely.

    Willie Perdomo¿s Smoking Lovely melts the grit of New York City life into a work as beautiful and diverse as the people who live there. Through the use of poignant and important imagery and a conversational tone, he brings his readers into the place where he grew up - a world that held him captive for most of his life. Smoking Lovely, therefore, is a collection of writings where each,'poem looks like a/ mother who just lost her only son/ to the last gunshot of the night/ [whose] long cries sneak under [our] door/ like the beginning of dinner (Perdomo, 25).' Consistent with his previous work, in Smoking Lovely, English and Spanish are masterfully folded together to create a unique and genuine snapshot of Puerto Rican life in Spanish Harlem. His style of writing embodies the very spirit of New York: fierce and honest, hopeful but unforgiving, and most importantly, in-your-face and real. An easy read from start to finish, this work should not be discounted as undeveloped, or ¿spoken-wordish.¿ Perdomo¿s poetry is as eloquent and academic as it is sharp and relevant. This book is a force to be reckoned with, as dangerous and powerful as a hurricane.

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