Hardback
September 23, 2008
9780819568762
English
224
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v2.1 Reference
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August 15, 2011
9780819571694
English
224
9.25 Inches (US)
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v2.1 Reference

Zong!

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.

About the Authors

M. NOURBESE PHILIP is a poet, writer, and lawyer whose previous collections of poetry include She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks (1989). Born in Tobago, she now resides in Toronto, Ontario. SETAEY ADAMU BOATENG is the voice of the ancestors revealing the submerged stories of all who were on board the Zong.

Reviews

"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

"A brash, unsettling book, Zong! wants to chant or shout history down, shut history up. It not only laments and mimics history's unreason but, verisimilar and retributive both, deranges history, as if to reorder its linguistic protocols might undo or redo history itself. Fretful, possessed, obsessed, upset, curse and homeopathy, both, it visits a breathtaking run of glossolalic scat upon historical trauma."—Nathaniel Mackay, author of Bass Cathedral

"Zong! pushes its readers to understand the Zong incident in the complex contexts of both African spirituality, languages, and regions and the British (Western) slave trade and law, with its assumed racism yet sincerely attempted pursuit of justice. The poems work powerfully at the individual level and even more powerfully as a sequence to call attention to the scantiness of our knowledge of the history of African enslavement from any perspective but that of slave holders or legal documents and to question the assumptions about 'fact' and 'value' assumed by that perspective. Like reconstructed archaeological shards, Philip's poems give us pieces combined in different orders and to different effects, building a story in such disjointed terms that it implies the tale cannot be simply known or told. As Philip herself says, she is finding ways 'to not-tell"' the story of the Zong—just as Toni Morrison both relates Sethe's story in Beloved and declares 'This is not a story to pass on.'"—Cristanne Miller, Edward H. Butler Professor of Literature, University at Buffalo SUNY

"Those still confused about why poetry might fracture and splinter and stutter can find an answer in the work of M. NourbeSe Philip. In Zong! she delves into the trauma of the plantation economy and allows her language to be shaped by the conflicts between telling and not telling, between naming and not naming that define the horrifying story of the slave ship Zong. This book is exceptional and uniquely moving."—Juliana Spahr, author of This Connection of Everyone with Lungs

"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

Endorsements

"A brash, unsettling book, Zong! wants to chant or shout history down, shut history up. It not only laments and mimics history's unreason but, verisimilar and retributive both, deranges history, as if to reorder its linguistic protocols might undo or redo history itself. Fretful, possessed, obsessed, upset, curse and homeopathy, both, it visits a breathtaking run of glossolalic scat upon historical trauma." —Nathaniel Mackay, author of Bass Cathedral

"Those still confused about why poetry might fracture and splinter and stutter can find an answer in the work of M. NourbeSe Philip. In Zong! she delves into the trauma of the plantation economy and allows her language to be shaped by the conflicts between telling and not telling, between naming and not naming that define the horrifying story of the slave ship Zong. This book is exceptional and uniquely moving."—Juliana Spahr, author of This Connection of Everyone with Lungs

"Zong! pushes its readers to understand the Zong incident in the complex contexts of both African spirituality, languages, and regions and the British (Western) slave trade and law, with its assumed racism yet sincerely attempted pursuit of justice. The poems work powerfully at the individual level and even more powerfully as a sequence to call attention to the scantiness of our knowledge of the history of African enslavement from any perspective but that of slave holders or legal documents and to question the assumptions about 'fact' and 'value' assumed by that perspective. Like reconstructed archaeological shards, Philip's poems give us pieces combined in different orders and to different effects, building a story in such disjointed terms that it implies the tale cannot be simply known or told. As Philip herself says, she is finding ways 'to "not-tell"' the story of the Zong—just as Toni Morrison both relates Sethe's story in Beloved and declares 'This is not a story to pass on.'"—Cristanne Miller, Edward H. Butler Professor of Literature, University at Buffalo SUNY
Wesleyan University Press
Wesleyan Poetry Series

9780819571694 : zong-philip-boateng
Paperback / softback
224 Pages
$17.95 USD
9780819568762 : zong-philip-boateng
Hardback
224 Pages
$24.95 USD

Other Titles by M. NourbeSe Philip

She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks

M. NourbeSe Philip, OtherEvie Shockley
Oct 2015 - Wesleyan University Press
$15.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$12.99 USD - Electronic book text

Zong!

M. Nourbese Philip
Feb 2012 - Wesleyan University Press
$12.99 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles from Wesleyan Poetry Series

The Age of Phillis

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Mar 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$26.95 USD - Hardback

Mezzaluna

Michele Leggott
Feb 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$18.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Edges & Fray

Danielle Vogel
Jan 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$19.99 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in POETRY / General

That Place Where You Opened Your Hands

Susan Leslie Moore
Mar 2020 - University of Massachusetts Press
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Stardust Media

Christina Pugh
Feb 2020 - University of Massachusetts Press
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Wonderful Wasteland and other natural disasters

Elidio La Torre Lagares
Aug 2019 - University Press of Kentucky
$19.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$19.95 USD - Electronic book text
$19.95 USD - Electronic book text