Sunday, December 29, 2013

Puma Perl at Otto's Shrunken Head

Guitarist Joff Wilson of the Bowery Boys (left)
and saxophonist Danny Ray (center)
provided improvisational music behind Perl's reading tonight.
Puma Perl is a performance artist, poet and writer. She is the author of two chapbooks, the award-winning Belinda and Her Friends and Ruby True, and one full-length collection, knuckle tattoos. She reads publicly at Otto's Shrunken Head, the Parkside Lounge, the Bowery Electric and other rock clubs.

What is a native Brooklynite with a masters degree in social work doing in a place like Otto's Shrunken Head? You can catch Puma Perl there most Sundays, enjoying the rock bands. Sometimes she climbs onstage to read her poetry, backed with improvisational music by the various musicians that the club attracts. Her poems are often set in the Lower East Side, where she has lived for many years, and liberally provide a unique local perspective. Tonight her reading was like that of someone who has seen it all and done it all, good and bad. Unlike the neighborhood's more popular slam poetry, which is passionate and exuberant, Puma moved in the opposite direction; her narratives shared images of local characters and landscapes in a dry, static manner, while using colorful collections of words. "I decided to kill myself on a Sunday," she read as she started one of her works; she gets the audience's attention alright. Patti Smith was performing a few blocks away at Webster Hall tonight; she could have come to Otto's afterwards and drawn closer to her rock poet origins with Puma Perl.

Puma Perl will perform at the Bowery Electric on January 10. Visit her blog at or find her on FaceBook.