You may not need an introduction to Djelloul Marbrook, author of several books, including Far from Algiers, winner of the Wick Poetry Prize, and author of Brushstrokes and glances (Deerbrook Editions), as an active and accomplished writer. Recently Djelloul posted about his following in Algiers, Bou Saada, being in his heritage, and well, there is so much more to know about this very interesting man and his family, he agreed to let me post it here. I thought that some introduction would be nice for those visitors who may not know Djelloul.
When I received Djelloul’s manuscript for Brushstrokes and glances, I was in RI beginning work on restoring a press. His work struck me as being uniquely stimulating in its regard for art and intellect, and being form an art background, I was interested in publishing his book of poems.
The fact that he had won a prize for a first book added to the intrigue. When I received the book and following links and notes on information about this writer, the intrigue grew. Not only was his mother a painter in NY in the early twentieth century, his aunt was also, and one of her paintings was used for the cover of his book.
Does this seem to lack the force and nuance that you’d expect from a paragon of creativity? Small presses cannot broadcast enough about their winning authors. Poetry has been found to be a mysterious genre for many readers or so it would seem judging from the survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago on behalf of The Poetry Foundation.
So here I continue the effort to bring to the attention of whomever visits this blog who is interested in poetry of the excellent writer that is Djelloul Marbrook. I assume many know him in the circles that visit his blogs for he is more than a poet, as you will see if you go to the link above. He is an essayist and fiction writer that cares deeply about creativity and journalism. He spent most of his life in journalism as a newspaper editor. I encourage you to buy his books.
I give you this:
Hamdi Kamel, a Facebook friend from Algeria, graciously sent me this greeting from Bou Saada in eastern Algeria. My father, Ben Aissa ben Mabrouk, lived his entire adult life in Bou Saada, except for a few sojourns in England. He was born in Ain Rich, not far from Bou Saada. I was born in Algiers the year Albert Camus was finishing his studies at the University of Algiers in 1934. My mother was an American artist living in Bou Saada, sometimes called the City of Happiness. Their relationship failed and I never knew my father. My mother took me to England and then America, where I grew up. Bou Saada, under French rule, was famous for its European artists’ colony and the hospitable Oulad Nail tribe. My mother’s paintings and drawings of Bou Saada, some 165 of them, now reside in Le Musee des Beaux-Arts in Algiers. She often described her years among the Oulad Nail as the happiest of her long life. She painted its citizenry as her neighbors and friends, not as exotics, and this distinguished her work from the Orientalist painters. She preferred the company of the indigenous peoples to that of their colonial occupiers, a fact that often got her in trouble with the colonial administration. The fact that she was German-speaking and of German descent also aroused suspicion among the French who thought she might be making topographical studies for German intelligence. Ben Aissa married Rose Fitzsimmons, a longtime Scottish resident of Bou Saada who was well-regarded for her philanthropic work. Lawrence Morgan wrote a fictionalized version of the complex relationship between my mother, Ben Aissa and Rose in The Flute of Sand.
If you are looking for an intriguing writer to follow I urge you to look at Djelloul Marbrook and read through his archives. I would be pleased, too, if you were to buy Brushstrokes and glances, and perhaps you’ll find some of the many reviews, I can’t keep up with them, by the many who have written about this fascinating man.
Here is a review at the New York Journal of Books for Brushstrokes and glances.
If you go to our cover gallery you will find the info about the cover.