Puma Perl




With Retrograde, Puma Perl goes back in time in order to move forward­­—and what a trip this proves to be. This is a journey of living and survival among the ghosts and dreams of a past captured with full honesty and sharp humor (sometimes self-deprecating, other times pinning the tail on absurdity. Funny, smart, dirty yet tender, Puma Perl brings the descriptive eye of Lou Reed to her apocalyptic rock and roll vision of the world.



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For Retrograde you'll need your seats in the upright position and you'll certainly need your seat-belt. Some of you will need helmets. I haven't felt this way about a book of poems or a poet since the first time I read Charles Bukowski back in the 70's...This is one of the strongest, most surprising, and sublimely splendid collections of poetry I have ever read. It comes on like a sledgehammer breaking down your front door. Sublime yes but this is never subtle, Perl grabs the reader by the collar or the hair, whatever she gets a hand on, and pulls you into her world. And there is no boundary she won't happily piss on just to see the splash.—Michael Dennis, Today's Book of Poetry  Full Review

Puma Perl is a remarkable poet and an exciting performer. Her works in verse are packed with riveting details of modern life and chronicle her unrelenting resistance to the way things are or meant to be. Retrograde is a true contemporary masterpiece. —John Sinclair, poet, jazz and blues historian, former manager of the MC5, radio host, and political activist


Perl reminds me in some ways of Ginsberg. Both weave the immediate into their work as documentary evidence. Both have a desire to somehow sing to an audience of their peers. Both have motifs…talisman symbols that speak to core experience. Ginsberg returns again and again to his "clock of meat": Perl returns to her knives, honed and handed over in tiny, sharp cuts of poems ("Do not believe / my spoken word, / read my scarred / letters, they crawl / down my arms / like predators") and to the vital squalor of LES apartments ("I don’t sleep on the floor any more. I'm too old to crash on moldy blankets, bodies of strangers on either side, sounds of wet fucking, smells of beer, blood and vomit.")—B.A. Goodjohn, Mom Egg Review  Full Review


Absolutely gut wrenching, achingly beautiful. bittersweet and painfully true. Puma seems to have written this in her own blood not from what bled out but from what she ripped out from deep inside. You will recognize yourself in this book. She makes no observations, she relates experiences. She runs the gamut of hustling, scoring, cooking and shooting, the beauty and ugliness of the high and fall, and you begin it all again but never told as a victim only as a survivor and winner. - Guido Colacci, Steel Notes Magazine    Full review


Retrograde is a true rush...An extremely authentic and unsentimental look at the gritty and dangerous New York that has since been glamourized, mourned and burnt beyond recognition into the realm of cultural mythology.  - Scott Stiffler, The Villager   Full review


The book is for those who do not wake up screaming, but wake up wanting to scream...The poems span everything from years of addiction, long ago, to the now where there are “social media” and cell phones. It is a a world where “it is always sometimes, never forever”: as it has always been, it's just a world where it is more glaringly obvious. -

David McLean, Autoerotic Elegies

Full review


Puma’s writing shoots straight from the hip or straight to the lip, powerful, honest and to the point. Her writing hits home, and often conveys things most people are too unaware or afraid to admit. Puma pulls no punches, telling tales of self-destruction as a celebration of life until way after the party is over, and somehow being graced with a second chance to survive. Don’t try this at home. — Iris Berry, publisher, Punk Hostage Press


The collection moves through time, whether it’s looking toward a dangerous past, a muddy future, or a bleak present; it is a study in how humanity changes yet stays stationary. Perl draws divine inspiration from Elizabeth Bishop, as the sense of loss permeates between every line, syllable, and period...The book is void of bullshit, portraying American city life in all its unglamorous, gritty glory. — Joanna C. Valente, Luna Luna


There is regret and deep disappointment in these pages, lurking but not hidden beneath the swagger of gritty urban attitude, the haze of cigarette smoke, and the back-of-the-water-bill list of pointless sexual encounters with boys who think they’re badasses…Retrograde is a brilliant title for this book, referencing that relentless forward motion that seems to sometimes reverse in both appearance and reality." —Eric Paul Shaffer, The Pedestal Full review


Withwords that hit like hammers, these poems bring us into a New York City of speedballs, broken windows and fast encounters. There is also ginger tea, soft sleep and yearning. You may have been here—I know I have. And if you haven’t, the raw emotion in Puma Perl’s free verses will transport you. —Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of "Haywire", "Tetched" and "Roughhouse"

These poems make me cry and want to punch a wall. They bring me to that place inside where the darker hours loom. Puma Perl takes us on a trip through our interiors piecing together the moments we wanted nothing and everything at the same time. Her mastery shines when suddenly a word or phrase sparks a laugh, daybreak comes, and she (we) steps outtriumphant. — Nicca Ray, writer


Puma Perl writes with dagger to the heart directness. Dreams merge as she borrows from pain to understand her strength and purity. This warrior leaves me grinning and a little wiser. Zoe Hansen, writer / artist



In the mid-70s, Puma Perl happened by the Nuyorican Poets Café on its second night of existence. Along with countless other Lower East Side residents, she discovered that the transformative power of poetry and performance was accessible to her, regardless of class and academic achievement. Decades later—still living in New York City—she is a widely published poet, writer, performer, producer, and photographer.

Puma is the author of two chapbooks, the award-winning Belinda and Her Friends and Ruby True, and the full-length collection knuckle tattoos. Her poetry and short stories appear in numerous journals and anthologies including It’s Animal but Merciful (great weather for MEDIA, 2012), The Understanding between Foxes and Light (great weather for MEDIA, 2013), MaintenantRattleThe Chiron ReviewHave a NYC (Three Rooms Press), and Bullying: Replies, Rebuttals, Confessions, and Catharsis. Recently she was awarded a 2016 Acker Award.

She was the co-creator, co-producer, and main curator of DDAY Productions which mounted shows in many New York City venues and highlighted emerging artists. Her newest venture is Puma Perl’s Pandemonium, which brings together poetry with rock and roll. As Puma Perl and Friends, she performs regularly with a group of excellent musicians. She continues to be transformed.

Retrograde, Puma Perl

Publication date June 1st 2014


ISBN: 978-0-9857317-2-4

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