Born in Casablanca in 1953, Abdallah Zrika grew up in the slums of Ben Msik. He wote his first poems at age twelve & self-published his first book (Dance of the Head and the Rose) in 1977. In these so-called "years of lead" of political repression & student unrest, the book was an immediate popular success with the younger Moroccan generation—as were the many poetry readings he gave to audiences that often numbered in the thousands. In 1978 he was arrested and condemned to two years in jail for disturbing the public order and for supposed crimes against “the sacred values” of his country. Since his release in 1980 he has continued his career as a writer, becoming one of Morocco’s major voices. Abdellatif Laâbi called the early work “brutal, disheveled, wild, blasphemous, one could be tempted to say that it is voluntarily ugly—the same way people found Picasso’s paintings ugly,” while he sees the more recent work as having “restructured itself to make room for the visionary” by becoming a “crucible in which human and historical matters are transmuted. . . . After having called for the destruction of the old world, he has now put his shoulder to the task of reinventing life.” Of Zrika’s ten or so books, three have been translated into French.
Pierre Joris has published some fifty books of poems, essays & translations, most recently An American Suite (inpatient press 2016), Barzakh: Poems 2000-2012 (Black Widow Press 2014), Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry of Paul Celan (FSG 2014) and A Voice Full of Cities: The Collected Essays of Robert Kelly (coedited with Peter Cockelbergh, Contra Mundum Press 2014). Other recent books include Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj (poems) from Chax Press; The University of California Book of North African Literature (volume 4 in the Poems for the Millennium series), coedited with Habib Tengour;and Exile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Reader, edited, introduced, and translated by Pierre Joris (Black Widow Press). Cartographies of the In-between: The Poetry & Poetics of Pierre Joris, edited by Peter Cockelbergh, came out in 2012. He lives in Sorrentinostan, a.k.a. Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with his wife, multimedia performance artist and writer Nicole Peyrafitte, and is Visiting Distinguished Professor at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho, for the Spring 2016 semester.