"A writer traces his history-brushes with violence, responses to threat, poetic and political solidarity-in poems of lyric and narrative urgency. John Murillo's second book is a reflective look at the legacy of institutional, accepted violence against African Americans 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. "Maybe memory is the only home / you get," Murillo writes, "and rage, where you/first learn how fragile the axis/upon which everything tilts.""--

Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry

  • Murillo, John


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