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Book Reviews

The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon

Author:
Willie Perdomo
Publisher:
Penguiin
Price:
$15.95 hardback /
$15.95 paperback /
$7.99 e-book
Pages:
64 pages
ISBN:
9780143125235
Rating:
4
(Reviewer Rating)

(Average User Rating)
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Reviewer: Leslie Haídez De Jesús

TAGS:  Willie Perdomo, Penguin Books, Nuyorican Poets, Afro-Latino

Award-winning poet Willie Perdomo returns with his second collection of poetry, The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon. A winner of the PEN Beyond Margins Award, Perdomo was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award and has had his poems published in the New York Times Magazine. In The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, Perdomo brings spoken word, at its best, to the printed page. Willie Perdomo’s words are like colorful murals,and he draws from his roots as one of the Nuyorican Poets to paint a picture of Afro-Latino life in this, his second collection of poetry. The cadence of the poetry reads like a spoken word piece; if one is not a fan of this particular subgenre, then the book may be difficult for a reader to grasp. In fact, this reviewer wishes Perdomo had done this book as an audiobook, as he is the type of poet who should be heard aloud in order to capture the true essence of his poetry.

Perdomo’s deliberate crafting of words makes the reader feel the celebration of Latino culture and the vividness of the Latino Artist lifestyle, which most people don't get to enjoy. In one such celebration Perdomo brings to light one the largest fiestas that occurs in the Latino community: the dedication to a beloved relative, living it up and enjoying life without regrets.  The best part of this book is the fact that Perdomo opens the barrio to all, so that readers may experience and get in touch with their inner Latino soul.

To experience Perdomo, it is best to hear him speak the words he wrote. This reviewer encourages readers to watch some of his performances on the internet, which will lend a greater appreciation of this book. The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon is ideal for those who are fans of poetry, especially spoken word, and a it's great experience for those who've never had a taste of Latin soul. Hopefully, an audio version of this book--or even his next--will be coming soon.

 

Leslie Haídez De Jesus is from the Bronx. Her poetic style stems from her personal experiences. She doesn't like to refer to herself as an artist because her writing style works more like a random moment. "I can only write, when I feel it," she says. Look for her first poetry book, PhatGyrlzRule-Image iz Everything, which should be due this year. For more information, contactinfo@phatgyrl.com.


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Dear Ms. Haídez De Jesus, Thank you for your passive gander of my my most recent poetry collection. I don't think I've ever read a lazier review. I have never responded to reviews of my work, but in your case I was compelled to write as your piece seemed motivated by a certain haphazardness and oversight that is egregious and somewhat careless. I can tell you that there is nothing random about THE ESSENTIAL HITS SHORTY BON BON.

It's clear to me that you didn't read the book nor the press release that accompanied it, because if you did you would have noticed that this is my third book, not my second. So you were already misinformed going into the review. (How your editor let you get away with this factual error should also be a point of concern.) You call my words "colorful murals" and for you to have seen the said murals implies that you would've noticed imagery, none of which you cited. I have been on the redundant end of the whole page/stage conversation before, and I'm here to tell you that there's nothing "spoken" about this book. For me there's is no crossing over from one to the next, there is only fusion.

Did I read the poems aloud while I was writing? Yes, reading aloud is a great editing tool. But were these poems written in a performative context? No. Any poet worth her cloth knows that a poem sounds different aloud than when read in private. What you call cadence, I call prosody, line, meter, and tempo. In other words, music. But I suspect that you might be caught up in your "Image iz Everything" moment to understand these elements for their true value. You wish the book was an audiobook (it seems that is all you really have to say for almost 350 words), but it's not. It's a bound collection of poems, most of which do not lend themselves to a "spoken word" interpretation as they are of varying line lengths, some as little 8-10 lines, all with specific structures and movements.

Speaking of structures, what you call a "fiesta" I call an elegy. You paid no attention to the various voices and sections that make up the book, the way the book comes full circle with the pronoun, "You"; you pay no attention to the refrains, the little nods to verses, the way the Poet tries to write the same poem seven times, nothing. Trust me, if I was just "spitting" these poems out, I would say that your review-less review was right on. That is to say, you totally missed the point of the book. Because if you did a closer reading, you would have realized that this book is about writing poetry as much it is about music. This "Latino community" you speak of? Who are they? Where are they? What is this "inner Latino Soul" you speak of? I never heard of such a thing. The "soul"? Yes, definitely, and this book is about nothing if not about the soul meeting its maker. How can you review a book, a poem, without referring to any of the text, verse, stanza, motifs, symbolism, to support your thesis? You say, with the utmost originality, that Shorty is "living it up without regrets"--that couldn't be further from the truth. Dude is on his death bed trying to remember is heart, his soul, his love, and his music. Give him that at least.

To experience "Perdomo" is to experience me; as far as I know, you have no experience to speak of there. But to experience my work is a different matter. And it looks like you might have missed that experience as well. I would not encourage any of your readers to visit work that is old and unrelated to this new book. And, again, if by "Latin Soul" you mean the genre of music, then, yes, invite your readers for a taste. But don't project your needs onto your readers. Read the book after you finish "feeling" all those "random moments" that make up your own. Respectfully, Willie Perdomo, author of THE ESSENTIAL HITS OF SHORTY BON BON P.S. I chose not to rate my own book.

Comment by: Willie Perdomo
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Editor's response: The reviewer wrote from her experience as a performance poet. Ultimately, however, the responsibility for the quality and content of a review resides with QBR.

Comment by: Editorial Staff
User Rating: none

 
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