Djelloul Marbrook began writing poems in Manhattan at age fourteen. He abandoned writing poetry after publishing poems in small journals in his thirties, but he continued reading and studying poetry. At age sixty-seven, shaken by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he stuck a notebook in his pocket and began walking around Manhattan, a kind of armed response. He soon realized his lifelong love of poetry was being realized in his notes. Those notes became Far From Algiers (2008, Kent State University Press), which won the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and the 2010 International Book Award in poetry.
His voice in Far From Algiers speaks to anyone who has ever had doubts about belonging. Born in French Algiers in 1934 to an American artist and a Bedouin father and arriving in America as a gravely ill infant, he has contemplated this issue throughout his life.
The Wick judge, Toi Derricotte, wrote, “This superb first book…honors a lifetime of hidden achievement…Sometimes the poems seem utterly symbolic, surreal; they are philosophical, historical, psychological, political, and spiritual. The genius is in the many ways these poems can be read. I kept being rewarded by new awarenesses of the poet’s intentions, by the breadth and scope of the manuscript.”
His second book of poems, Brushstrokes and Glances (2010, Deerbrook Editions), is about artists, art and museums, with a cover by Marbrook’s aunt, the pioneer abstract geometric painter I. Rice Pereira.
Writing in The Line Break editor Tom Holmes said:
“In fact, Brushstrokes and Glances is like an art museum, especially in the first half of the book, ‘A jar of marsala.’ Each poem in the first half is about a specific piece of art or artist [or] his mother, who was also an artist. I would like to see each of these poems in the museum hanging next to the artwork it is referencing. The poems, while ekphrastic poems, aren’t explications of the artwork, fortunately, but rather the poem is the artwork’s dance partner.” Affirming this enthusiasm, Holmes linked many of the poems to their images in museums.
Guest Boy, book one of the Light Piercing Water fiction trilogy (2012, Mira Publishing House Ltd., UK) debuted at the London Book Fair in April 2012. His short story, “Artists’ Hill,” from book two of the trilogy, won the Literal Latté fiction prize in 2008. Three other novellas have been published: Saraceno (2012, Bliss Plot Press, NY), available in paper, ebook and audio; Artemisia’s Wolf (2011, Prakash Books, India) and Alice Miller’s Room (1999, OnlineOriginals.com, UK).
Marbrook’s poetry has been published in American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Oberon, Reed, The Ledge,Perpetuum Mobile, Orbis, Chronogram, Atticus, Le Zaporogue, Attic, Damazine, The Same, and other journals, and his fiction in Orbis (UK), Potomac Review (MD), Prima Materia (NY) and Breakfast All Day (UK).
Marbrook is a retired newspaper reporter and editor. He lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with his wife, Marilyn, and maintains cultural and literary blogs where he often writes appreciations of fellow writers.