by John Murillo

Murillo tells on one page of tragedy spanning continents and eras, and on the next plumbs the depths of personal loss, locking it all inextricably together in the 12-canto “Flowers for Etheridge,” an ode to his poetic ur-father whose chant he carries on: “We free singers be.” Murillo is a man who’s been saved by poetry, and this is his book of rescue.


"Up jumps 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 Diaz

"The feel of now lives in John Murillo's Up Jump the Boogie, but it's 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

"In this first collection, John Murillo commits to the page a dazzling display of artistry, word-magic and "skybound" emotion. And thank heaven for the emotions here—whether contained in a form (sestina, ghazal, and so on—), an homage, or a kind of street-wise elegy. And, thank goodness—or some Exposition-Boulevard-equivalent—for these poems. 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


John Murillo is the current Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. A graduate of New York University's MFA program in creative writing, he has also received fellowships from the New York Times, Cave Canem, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He is a two-time Larry Neal Writers' Award winner and the inaugural Elma P. Stuckey Visiting Emerging Poet-in-Residence at Columbia College Chicago. His poetry has appeared in such publications as Callaloo, Court Green, Ploughshares, Ninth Letter, and the anthology Writing Self and Community: African-American Poetry After the Civil Rights Movement. Up Jump the Boogie is his first collection.