“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
"Variations on a Theme by Elizabeth Bishop" was featured in The New York Times
, selected by Reginald Dwayne Betts
— selected by Reginald Dwayne Betts
"...John Murillo’s starting-to-buzz Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry
(Four Way, Mar.) chronicles a life defined by institutional racism, 'suffering each invisible star.'..."
— Barbara Hoffert
"In this clear-eyed collection of highly referential, yet decidedly grounded poems, widely acclaimed writer Murillo adopts a deceptively conversational tone to address violence in Black communities, and the broad landscape of American poetics....Murillo proves himself to be steeped in the traditions of American poetry, carving his own path and curating his own canon...."
— Diego Báez
"...These poems juxtapose bruising firsthand experience against dry conceptual categories (“On Lyric Narrative,” “On Confessionalism”) with a dexterous sense of rhythm and internal and end rhyme as influenced by The Notorious B.I.G. and Elizabeth Bishop. Murillo’s rage against stereotypes and systemic injustice burns through these poems..."
— Publishers Weekly
"In his new collection (after Up Jump the Boogie
), Murillo uses conversational but carefully crafted language to articulate the pure pain of living, particularly in a world contorted by institutional racism, and how he works daily to save himself."
— Barbara Hoffert
Featured in Craig Teicher's 2020 Preview for NPR
— Craig Teicher
"...What a powerful book this is, told in a tone without trembling, nor any bravado. Lines of it will linger on your retina afterwards like these poems have been shown to you, in lamp light, or fire."
— John Freeman
Featured in Poets & Writers
— Poets & Writers
— The Rumpus