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Second UNH Poet Wins Prestigious NEA Fellowship

Release Date:
12/6/2012 12:00 AM

Dec. 6, 2012

WEST HAVEN, CONN. -- John Murillo, an award-winning poet and an adjunct professor of English at the University of New Haven, has been awarded a $25,000 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

John Murillo, 500px
John Murillo

Murillo is the second member of the English Department to receive the prestigious award.  Randall Horton, assistant professor of English and an acclaimed poet, received one of the fellowships nearly two years ago.

Murillo is nationally recognized for his poetry.  He is a two-time Larry Neal Writers’ Award winner, a New York Times Poetry Fellow at New York University, and a member of Cave Canem, an exclusive poetry society.

His poetry has appeared in such publications as Ploughshares, Ninth Letter, Lumina and the anthology, DC Poets Against the War.

A former instructor with DC Writers Corps and coach of Washington, D.C.’s National Teen Poetry Slam Teams in 2001 and 2005, Murillo has performed his own work in a wide array of venues, from the Kennedy Center to the Bowery Poetry Club.

The NEA award, Murillo said, will provide him time to write a book of poetry. “It was a nice affirmation that someone out there appreciates my work,” he says.

Murillo says his works are poems of witness that explore love,  politics and the human experience.  “Most of them are based on my own experiences or the experiences of people around me,” he says. 

Murillo, who grew up in south central Los Angeles in a black and Latino neighborhood often focuses on the gang violence, police brutality and struggles he saw there.  “My neighbors were impoverished and there was a lot of fodder for emotion and political commentary,” he says.

A high school basketball player, he did not play sports at Howard University where he earned his bachelor’s degree because he cared more about poetry than about the money-making potential of sports.  “Poetry is one of the most prized fields within the arts,” he says. “But it is the least compensated.”

Murillo, who also has completed a  residency as a Creative Writing Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass.

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. UNH enrolls approximately 6,400 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and College of Lifelong & eLearning, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.