The Glue Trap

Catalog, Collection / Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023

The Glue Trap and Other Poems is a volume in which range should be read as trajectory, the personal and the social as reciprocal metaphors, in which my speaker’s voice aspires to the credibility of a masterful monologue and my monologues aspire to the credibility of my truest voice, spoken and formal language converging in artifice as sincerest sense, the genuine.

There is a marvelous and liberating breadth to the subject matter in this fine collection but a recurring sense that these are the utterances of a heterogenous twenty-first-century soul stuck with Shakespeare on the checkout line of mundane twenty-first-century existence. At one with doing the balancing act that this predicament entails, the poet offers us delightful glimpses out of the conundrum, intimating what it means to be suddenly on the precipice of revelation. The situations range as widely as does the mosaic of modern living—from the workaday to the rarefied but always with the tantalizing potential for a moment of visionary insight, the potential for some searing truth to be found in the graceless contemporary moment. Whether it is rescuing tomatoes in a fallow garden or trapping a mouse in the gingersnaps, trailing an exotic woman in the produce department or standing among teenage judo novices about to demonstrate their mastery of highly disciplined and sublime martial art, we are reminded that, for the attentive and focused in life, we may be “always on the blank tatami (where) a master awaits.” This is Julio Marzán’s desideratum, his poetry’s triumph, and the transcendent intimation he brings to his readers.

George Wallace, writer in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace

Julio Marzán is a poet of intelligence and integrity, an original and independent voice for decades. He is a sharp-eyed observer of the urban world—witness his poems “Jury Duty,” focused on the mothers of defendants, and “Subway Crustacean,” about a single human being representing the epidemic of homelessness in New York at the time. These poems spring from a deep well of compassion, nowhere better illustrated than by the title poem about a mouse that meets a miserable fate at the hands of the poet, who cannot bear the suffering he has inflicted. We also meet a teacher in these pages, at home with literary allusion yet painfully aware of the struggle to teach those most in need. Julio Marzán has my deepest gratitude and respect.

Martín Espada, winner of the 2021 National Book Award

Julio Marzán

was born in 1946 in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and grew up in New York. He has published the poetry books Translations without Originals (Ishmael Reed Books, 1986) and Puerta de Tierra (U. of Puerto Rico Press, 1998), and he is editor and translator of Inventing a Word: Twentieth-Century Puerto Rican Poetry (Columbia University Press, 1980) and Luis Palés Matos: Selected Poems/Poesía Selecta (Arte Público Press, 2000). In 1994 he published the landmark The Spanish American Roots of William Carlos Williams (U. Texas Pr.). From 2004–2007 he was Poet Laureate of Queens, N.Y.