A work of poetry by M. NourbeSe Philip.

M. NourbeSe Philip

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. (From Weslyan University Press)

M. NourbeSe Philip is a Canadian poet, novelist, essayist and short story writer who was born in Tobago. She is the author of numerous books, including the poetry collections Thorns, Salmon Courage and She Tries Her Tongue; Her Silence Softly Breaks, the novel Harriet's Daughter and essay collection Blank. In honour her body of work, Philip received the PEN/Nabokov Award for International Literature in 2020 and the Arts Molson Prize in 2021.

Interviews with the author

In November 1721, a massacre began on the Zong slave ship. The tragedy inspired the Canadian poem Zong! by M. NourbeSe Philip. She reflects on the mass murder, the bizarre court case, and the work of art still rising from its depths. *This episode originally aired on November 29, 2021.