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Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry

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John Murillo’s second book is a reflective look at the legacy of institutional, accepted violence against Blacks and Latinos and the personal and societal wreckage wrought by long histories of subjugation. A sparrow trapped in a car window evokes a mother battered by a father’s fists; a workout at an iron gym recalls a long-ago mentor who pushed the speaker “to become something unbreakable.” The presence of these and poetic forbears—Gil Scott-Heron, Yusef Komunyakaa—provide a context for strength in the face of danger and anger. At the heart of the book is a sonnet crown triggered by the shooting deaths of three Brooklyn men that becomes an extended meditation on the history of racial injustice and the notion of payback as a form of justice.

ISBN-13: 9781945588471

Media Type: Paperback(1)

Publisher: Four Way Books

Publication Date: 03-02-2020

Pages: 88

Product Dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)

Series: Stahlecker Selections

John Murillo is the author of the poetry collections, Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher 2010, Four Way Books 2020), finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Pen Open Book Award, and Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way 2020). His honors include two Larry Neal Writers Awards, a pair of Pushcart Prizes, the J Howard and Barbara MJ Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. Recent poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in such publications as American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Best American Poetry 2017, 2019, and 2020. He is an assistant professor of English and director of the creative writing program at Wesleyan University and also teaches in the low residency MFA program at Sierra Nevada University. He lives in Brooklyn.

Table of Contents

On Confessionalism 3


Variation on a Theme by Elizabeth Bishop 9

Upon Reading That Eric Dolphy Transcribed Even the Calls of Certain Species of Birds 10

On Metaphor 17

Dolores, Maybe 19

On Magical Realis 23

Poem Ending and Beginning on Lines by Larry Levi 25

Dear Yuse 29

On Negative Capability 31

Mercy Mercy Me 33


A Refusal to Mourn the Deaths, by Gunfire, of Three Men in Brookly 37


Contemporary American Poetry 55

On Epiphany 58

After the Dance 60

Variation on a Theme by Gil Scott-Heron 62

On Lyric Narrative 64

Distant Lover 66

On Prosody 67

Variation on a Theme by the Notorious B.I.G 73