Marbrook’s Poetry Drawn by Homeland, Loss, Alienation

By Kate LeGrand

Far From Algiers
By Djelloul Marbrook
The Kent State University Press in Ken, 2008

Djelloul Marbrook’s first book of poetry, “Far From Algiers” is a carefully crafted work of art. As the title of his work suggests, the poems center on loneliness, alienation, relationships, and ties to the author’s homeland. In many of his pieces, Marbrook analyzes the notion of being an outsider both within his home and country. In his poem, “The Price of Admission,” Marbrook strongly rejects any sense of belonging.  The reader comes to see that the feeling of belonging is deadly. Through strong, stark language, he pulls the audience into the poems and transforms their point of view. Marbrook’s poetry, transcending page and text, gives the reader a true sense of alienation and loss.  In the poem, “Familiarity,” he writes of the world of anonymity in which he lives. The poem is just four lines and succinctly counters its title. Marbrook‘s rhythm and style give the collection a story-like aspect. He orders the poems to precisely emulate his stream of consciousness. The poems give insight not just into Marbrook’s personal narrative, but also into the recent history of Algeria. Marbrook’s poetry is both a provocative and eye-opening read.

This review appears in Al Jadid Vol. 17, no. 65.

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