The T. S. Eliot Foundation and the Poetry Society of America are pleased to announce that John Murillo is the winner of the 2021 Four Quartets Prize for his poem “A Refusal to Mourn the Deaths, by Gunfire, of Three Men in Brooklyn” from his collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books, 2020).
He was selected by judges Carolyn Forché, Donika Kelly, and Arthur Sze.
The judges also named Don Mee Choi for her book DMZ Colony and Srikanth Reddy for his book Underworld Lit, both published by Wave Books in 2020. Mr. Murillo will receive an award of $21,000 and each finalist will receive an award of $1,000.
The Judges’ Citation: John Murillo’s “A Refusal to Mourn the Deaths, by Gunfire, of Three Men in Brooklyn” lights a match and holds us in the flame. In this extraordinary fifteen-sonnet redoublé, the speaker meditates on the recent history of murderous racism in America that makes of Black men targets, and centers in the lyric space Black anger and Black pain. Murillo reminds us that his is a long lineage and each sonnet’s epigraph marks the genealogy of resistance Black poets continue to enact. Murillo’s anti-elegy demonstrates a lyrical virtuosity, passion, and command of language that makes this work urgent, essential, and enduring.
Biographies and videos of each finalist reading from their shortlisted works can be found on the Poetry Society of America’s website here.