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In the early 1990’s, New York City was experiencing a moment of intense change: the crack epidemic, the war on drugs, and the rise of hip-hop. Author and poet Willie Perdomo was a teenager at the time growing up in East Harlem, and the self-proclaimed “observer” of his group of friends. In his newest book of poetry, The Crazy Bunch, Perdomo combines memories of that time, fictional stories, history, and personal stories to paint a portrait of life in New York City in the early 1990’s.

Perdomo is the author of several children’s books and books of poetry, including Where a Nickel Costs a Dime, The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, and Smoking Lovely. He was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He was the recipient of a PEN Beyond Margins Award in 2004.

Latino USA‘s Antonia Cereijido takes a walk with Perdomo through his old neighborhood of Harlem to discuss his poetry, his teenage years and how memories of that time inspired his latest work.

Featured image courtesy of Willie Perdomo. 

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