(Wikipedia:) Marlene Nourbese Philip (born 3 February 1947), usually credited as M. NourbeSe Philip, is a Canadian poet, novelist, playwright, essayist and short story writer.
Born in the Caribbean Woodlands, Moriah, Trinidad and Tobago, Philip was educated at the University of the West Indies. She subsequently pursued graduate degrees in political science and law at he University of Western Ontario, and practised law in Toronto,Ontario for seven years. She left her law practice in 1983 to devote time to her writing.
Philip is known for experimentation with literary form and for her commitment to social justice. Though her writing suggests an in-depth understanding of the canon, Philip's career undoubtedly helped to free her from the constraints of tradition and to nurture her social analysis and criticism.
Her first novel, Harriet's Daughter (1988), is widely used in high school curricula in Ontario, Great Britain and was, for a decade, studied by all children in the Caribbean receiving a high school CXC diploma. It has also been published as an audio cassette, a script for stage and a German language edition. Although categorized as young adult literature, Harriet’s Daughter is a book that can appeal to older children and adults of all ages. Set in Toronto, this novel explores the themes of friendship, self-image, ethics and migration while telling a story that is riveting, funny and technically accomplished. It makes the fact of being Black a very positive and enhancing experience.
Philip’s most renowned poetry book, She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks, was awarded the Casa de las Américas Prize for Literature while still in manuscript form. As she explores themes of race, place, gender, colonialism and, always, language, Philip plays with words, bending and restating them in a way that is reminiscent of jazz. The tension between father tongue (the white Euro-Christian male canon), and mother tongue (Black African female) is always present. Most quoted is the chant-like refrain at the core of Discourse on the Logic of Language:
... and English is
my mother tongue
my father tongue
is a foreign lan lan lang
Philip is a prolific essayist. Her articles and essays … demonstrate a persistent critique and an impassioned concern for issues of social justice and equity in the arts, prompting Selwyn R. Cudjoe's assertion that Philip "serves as a lightning rod of black cultural defiance of the Canadian mainstream." More to the point is the epigram in Frontiers where Philip dedicates the book to Canada, 'in the effort of becoming a space of true belonging'.
It is as an essayist that M. NourbeSe Philip’s role as anti-racist activist is most evident. She was one of the first to make culture her primary focus as she argued passionately and articulately for social justice and equity. Specific controversial events that have been the focus of her essays include the Into the Heart of Africa exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Toronto production of Show Boat, and Caribana. Her essays also put the spotlight on racial representation on arts councils and committees in Canada and there have been definite advances in this area subsequently. It was at a small demonstration concerning the lack of Canadian writers of colour outside of the 1989 PEN Canada gala, that she was confronted by June Callwood.
Philip has also taught at the University of Toronto, taught creative fiction at the third year level at York University and has been writer in residence at McMaster University and University of Windsor and is currently writer in residence at the University of Western Ontario.
Her most recent work, Zong! (2008), is based on a legal decision at the end of the eighteenth century, related to the notorious murder of Africans on board a slave ship. A dramatized reading of this new poem cycle, was workshopped and presented at Harbourfront in Toronto as part of rock.paper.sistahz in 2006. Poems from this collection have been published in Facture, boundary 2 and Fascicle; the later includes four poems, along with an extensive introduction. On April 16, 2012 at b current studio space in Toronto, Philip held her first authorial full-length reading of Zong!—an innovative interaction-piece lasting seven hours in which both author and audience performed a cacophonous collective reading of the work from beginning to end. In solidarity with this collective reading, another audience-performance was held in Blomfontaine, South Africa.
In talking about her own work Philip has said, "fiction is about telling lies, but you must be scathingly honest in telling those lies. Poetry is about truth telling, but you need the lie - the artifice of the form to tell those truths."
Scholar Rinaldo Walcott has engaged critically with the work of M. NourbeSe Philip His essay "'No Language is Neutral': The Politics of Performativity in M. Nourbese Philip's and Dionne Brand's Poetry" in the book Black Like Who? is a strong example of this scholarly engagement.
- Thorns (1980)
- Salmon Courage (1983)
- She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks (1989)
- Discourse on the Logic of Language (1989)
- Zong! (2008)
- Harriet's Daughter (1988)
- Looking for Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence(1991)
- Frontiers: Essays and Writings on Racism and Culture (1992)
- Showing Grit: Showboating North of the 44th Parallel (1993)
- CARIBANA: African Roots and Continuities - Race, Space and the Poetics of Moving (1996)
- Genealogy of Resistance and Other Essays (1997)
- Coups and Calypsos (1999)
- Harriet's Daughter (2000)
- Casa de las Americas prize for the manuscript version of the poetry book, She Tries Her Tongue... 1998
- Tradewinds Collective (Trinidad & Tobago) Poetry –1st prize, 1988 & Short Story –1st prize, 1988
- Canadian Library Association prize for children's literature, runner up, for Harriet's Daughter - 1989
- Max and Greta Abel Award for Multicultural Literature, first runner up for Harriet's Daughter - 1989
- Guggenheim Fellow, in poetry – 1990
- McDowell Fellow – 1991
- Lawrence Foundation Award for the short story Stop Frame published in the journal Prairie Schooner - 1995
- Toronto Arts Award in writing and publishing, finalist–1995
- Rebels for a Cause award, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Toronto –2001
- Woman of Distinction award in the Arts, YWCA - 2001
- Chalmers Fellowship in Poetry – 2002
- Rockefeller Foundation residency in Bellagio, Italy - 2005.
Read an interesting discussion in The Kenyan Review of the poetic technique of erasure and Philip`s use of it in writing Zong!
WHERE: The Mykonos Restaurant at 572 Adelaide St. North, London, Ontario. The restaurant has a large, covered terrace just behind the main restaurant, which comfortably holds 60 poetry lovers. Mediterranean food and drinks are available. Overflow parking is available across the side street and in the large lot one block north, in front of Trad’s Furniture.
WHEN: December 4th, the first Wednesday of the month, as with most of our events.
LIVE MUSIC, live music will begin at least by 6:30. There is also an intermission also with live music.
THE FEATURED POET: M. NourbeSe Philip will begin reading shortly after 7:00, followed by a Q&A.
OPEN MIC: Following the featured poet, there is about 1.5 hours of open mic, ending about 9:00 pm. Each poet has five minutes (which is about two good pages of poetry, but it should be timed at home). NOTE: WE WILL NOT BE SELECTING NAMES AT RANDOM, BUT, AS IS TRADITIONAL AT MOST POETRY OPEN MICS, POETS WILL WRITE THEIR NAMES IN A SPOT OF THEIR CHOOSING ON A LIST AT THE DOOR. They will also be asked for their email addresses and whether or not we can photograph and videotape them reading.
RAFFLE PRIZES: Anyone who donates to London Open Mic Poetry Night receives a ticket for a raffle prize, three of which will be picked. The prizes consist of poetry books donated by Brick Books and The Ontario Poetry Society. Donations are our only source of income. We still haven't paid off our initial debt.
EBOOK ANTHOLOGY: Our annual ebook is an anthology of the poets who have read during the year, including both the featured poets, with one or two poems by each, and the open mic readers, with from one to a few, depending on length, from each of those who wish to participate, no matter how many times they read. The ebook will then be available on Amazon at the end of the season, at a few dollars each, used to help offset expenses. If anyone gives us more than several poems, we will select from them. All poems that are included must have been read at the events during the season. The ebook will include a short biography (up to seven lines) of each poet. This must be included with the poems. We may also add a photo of the poet reading at the event. This hasn’t been decided yet. To keep transcription errors from creeping into the poems, the preferred way to get them to us is by email. Those who don’t use email can give us a copy at the events. A cautionary note: Some poets may not want certain poems to be included in the ebook because it would make them unacceptable for later publication in certain poetry journals. Erik Martinez Richards will edit and publish the anthology. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org