Zong! 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 — M. NourbeSe Philip tells the story that cannot but must be told. Equal parts song, moan, shout, oath, ululation, curse and chant, Zong! excavates the legal text to give voice to its silenced participants. Memory, history, language and law collide. Through the innovative use of fugal and counterpoint repetition, Zong! becomes an anti-narrative lament that stretches the boundaries of the poetic form, haunting the spaces of forgetting and mourning the forgotten.