Up Jump the Boogie

Melanie Rovinsky

John Murillo’s debut poetry collection, Up Jump the Boogie, reveals an honest portrayal of urban life littered with genuine violence, inevitable downfalls, and lost love. Murillo doesn’t shy away from the facts of painful reality, but delves deep into the heart of these controversial issues to craft sincere and relatable poetry. The four-part collection comments on the importance of culture in relation to Murillo’s African American and Chicano roots.

In “Renegades of Funk,” Murillo recognizes that it is his culture’s nature to fight for freedom and fight to survive because they are machete wielding silhouettes who Reject the fetters, come together still. In his book, Murillo draws a distinction between cinematic violence and city violence, claiming that his lifestyle is a product of the latter. In his poem “Enter the Dragon,” Murillo remembers watching as his father – this John Henry of a man – / Hides his hammer. He notes that genuine violence doesn’t always involve pistol shots and bloodshed, but rather silent suppression.

Murillo writes several poems that capture the inescapable fate of individuals dwelling in a toxic urban environment. “The Corner” deals candidly with the dangers of relying on the streets for sustenance and comes to the conclusion that once you are exposed to that lifestyle, there is no escaping it: How it begins, ends, and begins again here./ On the corner. When read collectively, Murillo’s poems form a gateway into a shockingly truthful world – a world stripped of euphemisms and pleasantries – a world some call reality.