Oglethorpe University will welcome award-winning writer and former State Poet of New York Willie Perdomo on March 13 for a reading and book signing, the inaugural event for the Oglethorpe Out Loud series.
Established recently by a gift from alumna Leah Hughes ’88, Oglethorpe Out Loud will bring esteemed poets to campus each year to expand Oglethorpe students’ exposure to contemporary creative writers.
“Poetry has a place at Oglethorpe and always has,” said Hughes, who graduated with a degree in English and American Literature. “I am proud to endow Oglethorpe Out Loud as an endeavor to inspire even the most poetic and impractical of us to make a life, make a living, make a difference by living out our dreams.”
Oglethorpe Out Loud will be organized by the English and Comparative Literature department, with a Creative Writing faculty member tapped to identify a poet each year. Dr. Justin Haynes, associate professor of English and Comparative Literature, selected Mr. Perdomo to be the first featured poet.
“Willie Perdomo’s linking of spoken word to hip hop underscores the oral exceptionality of both forms,” said Dr. Haynes. “His head-turning performances at New York City’s Nuyorican Cafe are nationally renowned, and his recent role as the poet laureate for New York State underscores his stature. All poetry needs to be read aloud, but Perdomo’s poetry needs to be read aloud by him and listened to by everyone fortunate enough to have the opportunity.”
Perdomo is the author of “Smoking Lovely: The Remix” (2021), “The Crazy Bunch” (2019), “The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon” (2014), and “Where a Nickel Costs of Dime” (1996). He is the winner of the PEN Open Book Award, the International Latino Book Award, the New York City Book Award in Poetry, the Cy Twombly Award for Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award. Perdomo is co-editor of the anthology Latínext and his work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poetry, Washington Post, The Best American Poetry 2019, and African Voices. He is currently a Lucas Arts Literary Fellow, a core faculty member at Voices of our Nation (VONA) Writing Workshop, and teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy. Perdomo was the State Poet of New York from 2021 to 2023.
The March 13 event, to be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Library Atrium in Lowry Hall, will feature a poetry reading and Q&A. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet Mr. Perdomo at a post-reading reception and book signing. Books will be available for purchase. The event is free and open to the public.