New York

State Poet Laureate

In 1985, New York established a state poet laureate position, which is currently held by Willie Perdomo who was elected in 2021 to a two-year term. Poets who have previously served in this role include Yusef Komunyakaa and Marie Howe. Throughout their term, the state poet laureate promotes and encourages poetry writing throughout New York by giving public readings and talks within the state. Perdomo is the author most recently of The Crazy Bunch (Penguin Books, 2019). 

City and County Poets Laureate

Albany

In 2016, Rebecca Black was appointed the poet laureate of Albany, New York. Black is the author of Cottonlandia (University of Massachusetts Press, 2005), winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry.


Brooklyn

In 2010, Tina Chang became the poet laureate of Brooklyn, New York.


Bronx

Haydil Henriquez is the poet laureate of the Bronx. 


Buffalo 

In 2021, Jillian Hanesworth was named the first poet laureate of Buffalo. 


Queens 

Maria Lisella is the outgoing poet laureate of Queens, New York.


Westchester County

B.K. Fischer is Westchester County's first poet laureate; a position created in 2021.


Yonkers

In 2022, Golda Solomon was named the first poet laureate of Yonkers. 

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New York poet laureaute
Willie Perdomo

Willie Perdomo is the author of The Crazy Bunch (Penguin Books, 2019); The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (Penguin Books, 2014); Smoking Lovely (Rattapallax, 2003), winner of the PEN Beyond Margins Award; and Where a Nickel Costs a Dime (W. W. Norton, 1996), a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award.

Perdomo is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, a Pushcart Prize nominee, a former recipient of the Woolrich Fellowship in Creative Writing at Columbia University, a two-time New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow, winner of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly Award for Poetry, the New York City Book Award, and the PEN Open Book Award. The founder/publisher of Cypher Books, he is co-editor of the Breakbeat Poetry series anthology, Latínext. A Lucas Arts Literary Fellow and a core faculty member at VONA/Voices of our Nation Writing Workshop, he currently teaches English at Phillips Exeter Academy. In 2021, Perdomo was appointed New York State Poet. 


Bibliography

Poetry
The Crazy Bunch (Penguin Books, 2019)
The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (Penguin Books, 2014)
Smoking Lovely (Rattapallax, 2003)
Where a Nickel Costs a Dime (W. W. Norton, 1996)

Children's Books
Clemente!, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Henry Holt, 2010)
Visiting Langston, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Perfection Learning, 2005)

Willie Perdomo

Related Poets

Related Poems

The Tropics of New York

Bananas ripe and green, and ginger root
     Cocoa in pods and alligator pears,
And tangerines and mangoes and grape fruit,
     Fit for the highest prize at parish fairs,

Sat in the window, bringing memories
     of fruit-trees laden by low-singing rills,
And dewy dawns, and mystical skies
     In benediction over nun-like hills.

My eyes grow dim, and I could no more gaze;
     A wave of longing through my body swept,
And, hungry for the old, familiar ways
     I turned aside and bowed my head and wept.

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100

for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center


Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head 
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago. 
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle 
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea. 
Alabanza. Praise the cook's yellow Pirates cap
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane 
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up, 
like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.
Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen
could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:
Ecuador, México, República Dominicana, 
Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.

Alabanza. Praise the kitchen in the morning,
where the gas burned blue on every stove
and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers,
hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs 
or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.
Alabanza. Praise the busboy's music, the chime-chime
of his dishes and silverware in the tub.

Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher
who worked that morning because another dishwasher
could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime
to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family
floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.
Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza.

After the thunder wilder than thunder,
after the shudder deep in the glass of the great windows,
after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs,
after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen,
for a time the stoves glowed in darkness like the lighthouse in Fajardo,
like a cook's soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us
about the bristles of God's beard because God has no face,
soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations 
across the night sky of this city and cities to come. 
Alabanza I say, even if God has no face.

Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan and Kabul 
two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other, 
mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:
Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
And the other said with a Spanish tongue:
I will teach you. Music is all we have. 

Kaddish, Part I

For Naomi Ginsberg, 1894-1956

Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on
   the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.
downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I've been up all night, talking,
   talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues
   shout blind on the phonograph
the rhythm the rhythm—and your memory in my head three years after—
   And read Adonais' last triumphant stanzas aloud—wept, realizing
   how we suffer—
And how Death is that remedy all singers dream of, sing, remember,
   prophesy as in the Hebrew Anthem, or the Buddhist Book of An-
   swers—and my own imagination of a withered leaf—at dawn—
Dreaming back thru life, Your time—and mine accelerating toward Apoca-
   lypse,
the final moment—the flower burning in the Day—and what comes after, 
looking back on the mind itself that saw an American city
a flash away, and the great dream of Me or China, or you and a phantom
   Russia, or a crumpled bed that never existed—
like a poem in the dark—escaped back to Oblivion—
No more to say, and nothing to weep for but the Beings in the Dream,
   trapped in its disappearance,
sighing, screaming with it, buying and selling pieces of phantom, worship-
   ping each other,
worshipping the God included in it all—longing or inevitability?—while it
   lasts, a Vision—anything more?
It leaps about me, as I go out and walk the street, look back over my shoulder,
   Seventh Avenue, the battlements of window office buildings shoul-
   dering each other high, under a cloud, tall as the sky an instant—and
   the sky above—an old blue place.
or down the Avenue to the south, to—as I walk toward the Lower East Side
   —where you walked 50 years ago, little girl—from Russia, eating the
   first poisonous tomatoes of America frightened on the dock 
then struggling in the crowds of Orchard Street toward what?—toward
   Newark—
toward candy store, first home-made sodas of the century, hand-churned ice 
   cream in backroom on musty brownfloor boards—
Toward education marriage nervous breakdown, operation, teaching school,
   and learning to be mad, in a dream—what is this life?
Toward the Key in the window—and the great Key lays its head of light
   on top of Manhattan, and over the floor, and lays down on the
   sidewalk—in a single vast beam, moving, as I walk down First toward
   the Yiddish Theater—and the place of poverty
you knew, and I know, but without caring now—Strange to have moved
   thru Paterson, and the West, and Europe and here again,
with the cries of Spaniards now in the doorstops doors and dark boys on
   the street, fire escapes old as you
—Tho you're not old now, that's left here with me—
Myself, anyhow, maybe as old as the universe—and I guess that dies with
   us—enough to cancel all that comes--What came is gone forever
   every time—
That's good!  That leaves it open for no regret—no fear radiators, lacklove,
   torture even toothache in the end—
Though while it comes it is a lion that eats the soul—and the lamb, the soul,
   in us, alas, offering itself in sacrifice to change's fierce hunger--hair 
   and teeth—and the roar of bonepain, skull bare, break rib, rot-skin,
   braintricked Implacability.
Ai! ai!  we do worse! We are in a fix!  And you're out, Death let you out,
   Death had the Mercy, you're done with your century, done with 
   God, done with the path thru it—Done with yourself at last—Pure
   —Back to the Babe dark before your Father, before us all—before the
   world—
There, rest.  No more suffering for you.  I know where you've gone, it's good.
No more flowers in the summer fields of New York, no joy now, no more 
   fear of Louis,
and no more of his sweetness and glasses, his high school decades, debts,
   loves, frightened telephone calls, conception beds, relatives, hands—
No more of sister Elanor,—she gone before you—we kept it secret you
   killed her--or she killed herself to bear with you—an arthritic heart
   —But Death's killed you both—No matter—
Nor your memory of your mother, 1915 tears in silent movies weeks and
   weeks—forgetting, agrieve watching Marie Dressler address human-
   ity, Chaplin dance in youth,
or Boris Godunov, Chaliapin's at the Met, halling his voice of a weeping Czar
   —by standing room with Elanor & Max—watching also the Capital 
   ists take seats in Orchestra, white furs, diamonds,
with the YPSL's hitch-hiking thru Pennsylvania, in black baggy gym skirts
   pants, photograph of 4 girls holding each other round the waste, and
   laughing eye, too coy, virginal solitude of 1920
all girls grown old, or dead now, and that long hair in the grave—lucky to
   have husbands later—
You made it—I came too—Eugene my brother before (still grieving now and
   will gream on to his last stiff hand, as he goes thru his cancer—or kill
   —later perhaps—soon he will think—)
And it's the last moment I remember, which I see them all, thru myself, now
   --tho not you
I didn't foresee what you felt--what more hideous gape of bad mouth came 
   first--to you--and were you prepared?
To go where?  In that Dark--that--in that God? a radiance? A Lord in the 
   Void?  Like an eye in the black cloud in a dream?  Adonoi at last, with
   you?
Beyond my remembrance! Incapable to guess! Not merely the yellow skull
   in the grave, or a box of worm dust, and a stained ribbon—Deaths-
   head with Halo?  can you believe it?
Is it only the sun that shines once for the mind, only the flash of existence,
   than none ever was?
Nothing beyond what we have—what you had—that so pitiful—yet Tri-
   umph,
to have been here, and changed, like a tree, broken, or flower—fed to the 
   ground—but made, with its petals, colored, thinking Great Universe, 
   shaken, cut in the head, leaf stript, hid in an egg crate hospital, cloth
   wrapped, sore—freaked in the moon brain, Naughtless.
No flower like that flower, which knew itself in the garden, and fought the
   knife—lost
Cut down by an idiot Snowman's icy—even in the Spring—strange ghost 
   thought some—Death—Sharp icicle in his hand—crowned with old
   roses—a dog for his eyes—cock of a sweatshop—heart of electric
   irons.
All the accumulations of life, that wear us out—clocks, bodies, consciousness,
   shoes, breasts—begotten sons—your Communism—'Paranoia' into
   hospitals.
You once kicked Elanor in the leg, she died of heart failure later.  You of 
   stroke.  Asleep?  within a year, the two of you, sisters in death.  Is
   Elanor happy?
Max grieves alive in an office on Lower Broadway, lone large mustache over
   midnight Accountings, not sure.  His life passes—as he sees—and
   what does he doubt now?  Still dream of making money, or that might 
   have made money, hired nurse, had children, found even your Im-
   mortality, Naomi?
I'll see him soon.  Now I've got to cut through to talk to you as I didn't
   when you had a mouth.
Forever.  And we're bound for that, Forever like Emily Dickinson's horses
   —headed to the End.
They know the way—These Steeds—run faster than we think—it's our own
   life they cross—and take with them.

   Magnificent, mourned no more, marred of heart, mind behind, mar-
ried dreamed, mortal changed—Ass and face done with murder.
   In the world, given, flower maddened, made no Utopia, shut under
pine, almed in Earth, blamed in Lone, Jehovah, accept.
   Nameless, One Faced, Forever beyond me, beginningless, endless,
Father in death.  Tho I am not there for this Prophecy, I am unmarried, I'm
hymnless, I'm Heavenless, headless in blisshood I would still adore
   Thee, Heaven, after Death, only One blessed in Nothingness, not
light or darkness, Dayless Eternity—
   Take this, this Psalm, from me, burst from my hand in a day, some
of my Time, now given to Nothing—to praise Thee—But Death
   This is the end, the redemption from Wilderness, way for the Won-
derer, House sought for All, black handkerchief washed clean by weeping
—page beyond Psalm—Last change of mine and Naomi—to God's perfect
Darkness--Death, stay thy phantoms!

II
   Over and over—refrain—of the Hospitals—still haven't written your
history—leave it abstract—a few images
   run thru the mind—like the saxophone chorus of houses and years—
remembrance of electrical shocks.
   By long nites as a child in Paterson apartment, watching over your
nervousness—you were fat—your next move—
   By that afternoon I stayed home from school to take care of you—
once and for all—when I vowed forever that once man disagreed with my
opinion of the cosmos, I was lost—
   By my later burden—vow to illuminate mankind—this is release of
particulars—(mad as you)—(sanity a trick of agreement)—
   But you stared out the window on the Broadway Church corner, and
spied a mystical assassin from Newark,
   So phoned the Doctor—'OK go way for a rest'—so I put on my coat
and walked you downstreet—On the way a grammarschool boy screamed,
unaccountably—'Where you goin Lady to Death'? I shuddered—
   and you covered your nose with motheaten fur collar, gas mask
against poison sneaked into downtown atmosphere, sprayed by Grandma—
   And was the driver of the cheesebox Public Service bus a member of 
the gang?  You shuddered at his face, I could hardly get you on—to New
York, very Times Square, to grab another Greyhound—