2021 Four Quartets Prize
Don Mee Choi
Selected by judges Carolyn Forché, Donika Kelly, and Arthur Sze
John Murillo was selected 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).
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.