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.
In The Press
“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.”
About The Author
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.