“Ethnic Poetry”


Poet’s Note:  Readers, to my surprise, have inquired what “ethnic poets” I cite from in this poem. The only “ethnic poet” cited is Robert Frost, from “The Mending Wall,” in the final stanza. The overall ambiguity and irony of the poem lends itself to different takes, which I have been pleasantly surprised appear on the Internet, a kind of popular criticism.  On one web page,  someone who signs as Travis was taken by the first “ethnic poet,”  cites the stanza, then writes “so many reasons why i’m beginning to love this poem so much… i just love the idea of life, the earth being something we enjoy, its rhythm being something we dance to… after the poet announces this grand metaphor of life being this beautiful, exhausting, extravagant dance wherein yes you can drop it like it’s hot!, everyone begins to celebrate and party by roasting a pig… how great is that?

On the blog titled  “Done” Marshall Fletcher posted on Monday, April 27, 2009 a diary list of twenty three that “Made Me Happy Today: 1. caterpillars on Josh’s front porch…23. “Ethnic Poetry” by Julio Marzan.”

I was flattered that on December 6, 2008, the distinguished e-zine 3 Quarks Daily reprinted the poem in its Saturday Poem section and equally flattered by the comments received from readers. Ruya wrote: “insightful and smart. simply superb poem.” Spleen posted: “Lord, the more one reads it, the more irony reveals itself. Nobody is unscathed. Thanks for the provenance of this poem.”

“Ethnic Poetry” is part of my as yet unpublished book, “Foreign Heart.” It was first published in Parnassus: Poetry in Review  Volume 17, No. 1, 1992, and since that time has been reprinted in the anthology Paper Dance: 55 Latino Poets, ed. By Víctor Hernández Cruz, Leroy V. Quintana, Virgil Suárez, Persea Books, 2000, and in The Signet Book of American Humor, edited by Regina Barreca, New American Library, 2004

Since 1993, “Ethnic Poetry” has  been a selection in the following past editions and titles of Bedford/St. Martin’s college texts, hardbound and compact (paperback), The Bedford Introduction to Literature, The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, and Poetry: An Introduction, all edited by  Michael C. Meyer:

and in their present editions:

      as well as two new Bedford texts    

Literature to Go and Thinking and Writing about Literature: A Text and Anthology, both edited by Michael C. Meyer as well as in the Longman Pearson college reader:

  Literature: Reading to Write, edited by Elizabeth Howell, 2010

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