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Julio Marzan is Named Fourth Queens Poet Laureate

Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Dir. of News Services
Queens College

Maria Matteo
News Assistant
Queens College

Dan Andrews
Press Secretary
Queens Borough
President's Office

KEW GARDENS, NY, May 4, 2007 --Queens’ newest Poet Laureate is an award-winning author of two published books of poetry who has lectured at Harvard University, worked as a college English professor and written works of fiction and non-fiction on a multitude of topics, including Utopia Parkway.

Julio Marzan, a native of Puerto Rico who came to New York when he was four months old, was appointed Friday, May 4th as the fourth Queens Poet Laureate.

The announcement was made at Queens Borough Hall by Borough President Helen Marshall and Queens College President James Muyskens.

“Mr. Marzan has had an accomplished career as a poet and now takes on the mantle of Poet Laureate of America’s most diverse county,” said Marshall. “The Poet Laureate term dates at least as far back as the Middle Ages, when Medieval kings created the position as it is known today,” noted the Borough President.

“Today, I thank Mr. Marzan, all of our previous poet laureates and the entire panel of judges who were confronted with the difficult task of making today’s decision. There were dozens of worthy candidates and all of them deserve our support and encouragement for their passion and love of poetry,” said Marshall.

“Born in Puerto Rico, raised in the Bronx and a 36-year resident of Queens, Julio Marzan has what we most cherish in a Poet Laureate: an international perspective and a strong, lyrical voice that, like Walt Whitman’s, ‘hears America singing,’ said Muyskens. “We welcome Julio Marzan back from his visiting professorship at Harvard this semester and celebrate his installation today as Queens Poet Laureate. I am confident that he will hear ‘the varied carols’ of our borough during the next three years, and share its many songs with all the people of his adopted home.”

Mr. Marzan has published Translations Without Originals (Reed Books) and Puerta de Tierra (University of Puerto Rico Press). His poems have appeared in various anthologies, college texts and journals, including Harper’s magazine. In addition to being a poet and published author, he has served as a professor of English at Nassau Community College and in 2006 was a Visiting Professor of Romance Languages at Harvard University.

In one of his poems, titled “Utopia Parkway,” Marzan reflects on …“that life always dreamed from New York.”

Mr. Marzan has won numerous awards, including the Dylan Thomas Memorial Award for Poetry, presented by The New School.

Marshall said that the borough bard is expected to encourage residents’ love of poetry and perform readings at various locales and annual events celebrated in the county.

The idea of selecting a Queens Poet Laureate was made in 1996 by the Friends of the Queens College Library, a group of volunteers who support the library’s programs and services.

Candidates must have lived in Queens for at least the past two years, had their work published, and written poems about Queens.

A panel of judges culled submissions from 45 applicants and selected Marzan and designated five individuals for Honorable Mention: Hassanal Abdullah, Christine Hamm, Maria Lisella, David Mills and Norman Stock. The borough’s three former poet laureates, along with Linda Bannerman-Martin, curator of the Black Heritage Reference Center of the Langston Hughes Community Library & Cultural Center, and Lynn Lobell, managing director of the Queens Council on the Arts served as judges.

An Administrative Committee that assisted in the process included Andrew Jackson, executive director of the Langston Hughes Community Library & Cultural Center; Professor William Green, Department of English at Queens College; Professor Marie-Lise Gazarian, Department of Spanish Literature at St. John’s University; Maria Terrone, Assistant Vice President for Communications at Queens College and Susie Tanenbaum, Community & Cultural Coordinator at the Queens Borough President’s Office.

Mr. Marzan is the borough’s fourth Poet Laureate. He will take over his duties from Ishle Yi Park, a Korean American poet from Whitestone. She was preceded in the three-year, honorary and non-salaried post by public school teacher Hal Sirowitz (2001-2004). Queens first Poet Laureate was Queens College Professor Emeritus Stephen Stepanchev, who served from 1997 until 2001. “All of these talented individuals fostered a love of poetry here in Queens,” said Marshall.


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