m. nourbeSe philip

Inventing derelict tongues of refusal, m. nourbeSe philip breaks open and reimagines the horror of official speech and how it acts, creating a genre-obliterating poetry.

Born in Woodlands, Moriah, Trinidad and Tobago in 1947, m. nourbeSe philip is an internationally renowned poet, novelist, playwright, and essayist. Across her diverse and rich body of work, philip has constantly and deeply engaged with the complexities of art, colonialism, identity, and race, with a particular interest in forgotten and suppressed histories. In her 2017 book Bla_k: Essays and Interviews, philip describes her long struggle against the horrors of history: “I’m still hunting, trying to find the word or words to describe the Middle Passage, site of so much grief and trauma, final home to so many of us.” Her work Zong! (2008) is at once a representation of this struggle as well as a recovery of its historical subject: the murder of 142 Africans by a slave-ship crew in 1781. Zong!, which has become a seminal text of memory work, sets the terms for what it means both to write poetry in the long shadow of the transatlantic slave trade and to contend not just with political and social violence but with the many accompanying forms of silence: archival, historical, and aesthetic. Zong!, like philip’s earlier works, including She Tries Her Tongue—Her Silence Softly Breaks (1989), are demotic in the most profound sense, using multiple forms and voices to speak to the postcolonial world at large and to its inhabitants past, present, and future. The recipient of many honors, including the Molson Prize (2021), the PEN/Nabokov Award for International Literature (2020), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1990), philip was educated at the University of the West Indies and earned graduate degrees in law and political science from the University of Western Ontario. Her writing has featured in numerous anthologies, including the Oxford Book of Stories by Canadian Women in English (2000) and International Feminist Fiction (1992), among others. She lives in Toronto.

Holy, holy shit! Is this for real? Still can't believe it! M. NOURBESE PHILIP