Saturday, April 03, 2010

Poem + Photos: John Murillo (Book Launch)

Earlier tonight I headed over to Logan Square to Elastic Arts, where Tres Colony (Krista Franklin, Sandra Ivelisse Antongiorgi and Shirley Alfaro) hosted a book party for poet John Murillo, whose new book, Up Jump the Boogie has just been published by Cypher Books (New York). The collection's cover features one of Krista's collages, and the great Martín Espada pens a foreword that gives real insight into what John's poetry is up to., As the title suggests, hiphop flows through these poems like electricity, though soul and soul's spirit is also here, la alma de vida, and life here takes on tremendous textures in these lyrics, these lyric voices. As Martín says in his intro, John is "young and urban," "African American and Chicano," a "wordsmith and a song-maker": he's a true musician, operating on multiple levels, mixing and breaking, taking his crossfader sensibility to the very edge. These are powerful poems, whether the sequence for Etheridge Knight, or the crown of sonnets about growing up and breakdancing, or the poem, which made me go "whoa," in which John rolls up, for real, like a gangster. Tres Colony brought together a hot roster of poets and performers, including Toni Asante Lightfoot, Kevin Koval, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Avery R. Young, Randall Horton, and Roger Bonair-Agard, who not only offered their words but set things off live, for John to bring to a fitting conclusion with his very live and alive poems. Congratulations, John, and what follows below are some photos and one of John's poems.
Poet John Murillo
John Murillo reading

John Murillo reading one of his poems, "Hustle"

Krista MC'ing the reading
MC Krista Franklin
One of Krista's pieces
One of Krista's collages, which were on display (I think this one is titled "Baking Wonders Never Cease" (2008)
Poet Randall Horton
Poet Randall Horton reading
Poet Toni Asante Lightfoot
Poet Toni Asante Lightfoot, who performed
John Murillo
John Murillo taking in all the good words

Sandra Ivelisse performing her song

And now, one of John's poems, a love poem.

Round Midnight

Some nights I watch you
     sleep, the eyelid's jig

and beg, the blue rise
     of memory and moon.

When you drift, I snatch
     a machete from behind

a bedpost, stalk the night,
     plot the rise of infidels.

Before dawn, maybe you
     whisper the six histories

of river and rain, rise like
     steam from an open wound,

wrap yourself in ash,
     blood and honey.

Maybe you navigate
     stained glass streets,

havoc the avenues, ransack
     basilica in search of me.

Maybe you burn candles,
     moan canticles, conjure

lightning and thunderclap.
     Sweet river woman,

waist beaded and bangled,
     breathe moon and I will

dream too. Rise blue
     and I will find you.

Copyright © John Murillo, from Upjump the Boogie,
New York: Cypher Books, 2010.  All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Hey John, It was so good to see you in the house that night. The night was as magical as Murillo's words. Once Amanda Torres sung "Honey" the whole night took on a new air of Oshun. It was befitting that she be there as Oshun loves beauty and the whole night was beautiful.