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M. NourbeSe Philip

M. NourbeSe Philip was born in Tobago. A poet, novelist, playwright, and lawyer, NourbeSe Philip holds a BSC in Econ as well as an MS in Political Science from the University of the West Indies, and a law degree from the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.

NourbeSe Philip has published four books of poetry, including Zong! (Wesleyan University Press, 2008), She Tries Her Tongue; Her Silence Softly Breaks (Casa de las Americas, 1988), winner of the Casa de las Americas prize; Salmon Courage (Williams Wallace Inc. Stratford, 1983); and Thorns (Williams Wallace Inc. Stratford, 1980). She is also the author of the novels Harriet’s Daughter (The Women’s Press, 1988) and Looking For Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence (The Mercury Press, 1991), and numerous essay collections.

The recipient of awards, fellowships, and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the McDowell Colony, the Canada Council, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council, NourbeSe Philip was also the winner of the 1988 Tradewinds Collective Prize in both poetry and short story, the Toronto Arts Award in writing and publishing, the Rebels for a Cause award, and the YWCA Woman of Distinction award in the Arts

She has taught creative fiction at New York University, and lives in Canada.

Selected Bibliography

Zong! (Wesleyan University Press, 2008)
She Tries Her Tongue; Her Silence Softly Breaks (Casa de las Americas, 1988)
Salmon Courage (Williams Wallace Inc. Stratford, 1983)
Thorns (Williams Wallace Inc. Stratford, 1980)

Looking For Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence (The Mercury Press, 1991)
Harriet’s Daughter (The Women’s Press, 1988)

Genealogy of Resistance and Other Essays (Mercury Press,1997)
CARIBANA: African roots and continuities—Race, Space and the Poetics of Moving (Poui Publications, 1996)
Showing Grit: Showboating North of the 44th Parallel (Poui Publications, 1993)
Frontiers: Essays and Writings on Racism and Culture (Mercury Press, 1992)

By This Poet


Ferrum [excerpt]

s no s                        laves s                          in nest/s with
                in come sir                                  my lie
                                                ge lord it i
                                 s now y/                                 our turn co
                me b                        e me rains fa
                            ll no wa                            ter in t me and p
lay your p
                                          art the sun ros                                  he t
                ub                                                                under sk
                            in sin for                          ty days fo
     rty nigh                          ts forty ce                             dis for forty
                sins j'aim                            faim j'ai
                                faim god of                            spire spes and p
          raise turn and                          turn the bo                               nes sing
                               a son                                  g of wa
                                         ter a wat                                er so
                     ng sin                         g song sin                          g song de
                               fend the d                           ead & sin n
         o sin sin                           g the bo                               nes h/o
                        me what w                         ill my b                               ones say h
                                         ow do the                        y forty we
               eks come to t                        erm shh au                                  di can you
                                       not he                           ar from the de
                                                  ep the voi
                        ces not sir                                                ens we are a
      t sea the d                                            art of my sto
                                         ry stings i me
                      ant no harm                                         no hurt res

                                          cue us rag                                        and bone men in
               dict the a                                           ge pears in g
                              in in                    wine win                                ter wine and y
                                      ou Ruth                              this story ne
                   sts in the ne               t the we                                    b of ti
                                       me tam                p it down do
                                                  use the flam                 e of this ta
               le what pro                                      fit me if mon               coeur non est
                                 we wind o                                       ur way sub
                                                                    water o
                                       nly the bone                                       s of the sh
                     ip their e                          yes dart this
                                   way and th                                                              at soft so
                                                                                   ft they ro
                         am the ship                                                            their cri
                                                            es grate on me
                                          y ears drag                                the dee
                                                            p for the b                            ones of my so
                              ul their sou                                  ls cast the n
                                                    et wide to the d                             eep men to the
                     p and a                                             tot of ru