fbpx William E. Perdomo | Phillips Exeter Academy

William E. Perdomo

Instructor in English
Appointed
2013
Melissa L. Pacific

"Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole." — Derek Walcott

Education

B.A. Long Island University

M.F.A. Long Island University

Biography

Born in New York City, I came of Cooley High-age in Pan-African, diasporic Caribbean East Harlem — home of El Barrio, love, rooftop poems, cuchifritos, summer jams and brujas. I became a poet after discovering Langston Hughes, Piri Thomas and Ed Randolph, a.k.a. The Mad Poet of Harlem. I became a teacher because of Raymond R. Patterson, the preeminent blues poet of the 20th century. As a child, I used to fall asleep after celebrations, parties and baptisms, while Latin soul, boogaloo and salsa provided a soundtrack for my dreams. I think I was a pianist in another bebop life, or one of Bumpy Johnson’s trusted advisers. My bar for a literary work of art would be Cane by Jean Toomer. After two collections of poetry, two children's books, three YA short stories, a few trips across the Atlantic and several North American tours, I decided to finish school. (My third book was my MFA thesis.) On Sunday mornings I used to walk from 145th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue to the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I teach — revise, edit — I love teaching English and finding that one hidden voice in the wilderness that can — at its best — be the Harkness table. I start my term with an Open Notebook and begin my classes with a Quote Riff. I believe that all my students are inherent storytellers due to their dream capacity; that they have a voice as long as we allow them to use their vernacular literacies, or what Amy Tan would call her “Englishes.” I am club adviser to Pendulum (the campus lit mag), co-advisor to La Alianza Latina, and I am on the Lamont Poet Committee. I live with my family on the third floor of Peabody, and I’m still looking for a good walk in Exeter.

Publications

The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon. Penguin Poets. 2014.

Smoking Lovely. Rattapallax Press. 2003.

Postcards of El Barrio. Isla Negra Press. 2002.

Visiting Langston. Square Fish. January, 2002.

Where a Nickel Costs a Dime. WW. Norton & Co. 1996.