M. NourbeSe Philip, Setaey Adamu Boateng
In November, 1781, the captain of the slave ship Zong ordered that some 150 Africans be murdered by drowning so that the ship’s owners could collect insurance monies. Relying entirely on the words of the legal decision Gregson v. Gilbert-the only extant public document related to the massacre of these African slaves-Zong! tells the story that cannot be told yet must be told. Equal parts song, moan, shout, oath, ululation, curse, and chant, Zong! excavates the legal text. Memory, history, and law collide and metamorphose into the poetics of the fragment. Through the innovative use of fugal and counterpointed repetition, Zong! becomes an anti-narrative lament that stretches the boundaries of the poetic form, haunting the spaces of forgetting and mourning the forgotten. Check for the online reader’s companion at http://zong.site.wesleyan.edu.
"At times I'm uncomfortable with both poetry and history, but then a book like Zong! comes along and reminds me how the lyric can shake up history's limited logics and history can shake up poetry's occasional evasive sheen."--Jill Magi, Poetry Project Newsletter "M. NourbeSe Philip writes a poetry whose innovation--her spells of silence, her stuttering syntax--is not an abstract experiment but a form of mourning for African words prohibited by 'the ceremony of White in the elsewhere of time.'"--Zinzi Clemmons, Literary Hub "Some poems roll off the tongue like a song and others like a cry for help."--Victoria Iglesias, Medium "Nourbese-Philip cannot not 'create' a story, even against her own intentions to 'merely' document she treats each page as a field, a canvas--more accurately, the sea."--Tyrone Williams, African American Review "At times I'm uncomfortable with both poetry and history, but then a book like Zong! comes along and reminds me how the lyric can shake up history's limited logics and history can shake up poetry's occasional evasive sheen."--Jill Magi, Poetry Project Newsletter "[A]s Philip emphasizes, the story of the Zong is ultimately a story that can only be told by not telling. So even in the sea of words that fill up the final pages of Zong!, the registers of silence that mark the text are resounding."--Kate Eichorn, XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics
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