Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry

Forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2020

“There is in John Murillo’s art a dogged Americanness, a poet determined to assert himself within an America that has sought to deny his song and the songs from the rich African American tradition. And what songs these are! They are songs of irresistible vulnerability, tough truth-telling, cutting wit, and formal command. Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry is a signature event in American poetry.”
—Kwame Dawes

“John Murillo’s Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry is a lyric burst of virtuosity and passion long in coming, something between song and prayer, centered on a fifteen-sonnet redoublé on the subject of murderous racism and the rage that pushes against it, the whole of the book becoming an ars poetica for memory as noose and history as burning church. Murillo is a poet for his time, equal to its urgency, and graced are we to have him among us in this time of need.”    
—Carolyn Forché
”John Murillo’s stunning new collection speaks hard truths about the violence that afflicts our communities, our bodies, and our stories. Yet over this troubling arena, shaped by hostile social and political climates, a saving grace arises: Murillo’s unfettered ability to get at the heart of the wound, giving us words that empower us to transcend the pain.”
—Rigoberto González
”To bring together unlike things: John Murillo takes up that great mission of imagination and gives it new, distinctive forms. His poem “On Prosody” has the ghost title “On Violence”: the perfect pentameters, and their history, meeting the extreme defects of the present. A sonnet sequence with epigraphs from black poets twists away from stereotypes and explodes easy conclusions. Applause and wonder to this distinctive, many-minded work.” 
—Robert Pinsky, in Ploughshares    


Up Jump the Boogie

Cypher Books, 2010

“Up jump the boogie. That's almost all one needs to say.  Murillo is headbreakingly brilliant. I didn't have a favorite poet for this year: Now I do. But with this kind of verve and intelligence and ferocity Murillo just might be a favorite for many years to come.”
—Junot Díaz

“In this first collection, John Murillo commits to the page a dazzling display of artistry, word-magic, and ‘skybound’ emotion. Even if you didn’t grow up on the same block as John, my guess is that you’ll still feel a kind of nostalgia that arises from really well-written poetry. Dear reader, hold this book in your hands like a steering wheel and keep your eyes on the road.”
—Kimiko Hahn

The feel of now lives in John Murillo’s Up Jump the Boogie, but its tempered by bows to the tradition of soulful music and oral poetry. The lived dimensions embodied in this collection say that here’s an earned street knowledge and a measured intellectual inquiry that dare to live side by side, in one unique voice. The pages of Up Jump the Boogie breathe and sing; the tributes and cultural nods are heartfelt and in these honest poems no one gets off the hook.”
—Yusef Komunyakaa“

“John Murillo [is] a young West Coast urban poet with fantastic energy, imagination, and elan. His first book, Up Jump the Boogie, is by turns philosophical and wildly unpredictable but always charged and authentic.”
—Philip Levine in Kirkus Review