Zong! Background

Zong! Background

Zong! is a book of poetry written by NourbeSe Philip and published in 2008. Philip was born in the Caribbean in Trinidad and Tobago. She eventually moved to Canada and pursued her graduate degree in law and political science. She started as a lawyer for seven years, and stopped in 1983 to write full time. Her poetry is known for being more experimental and analyzing social justice and more political topics. Philip has published two novels, two plays, four collections of essays, and five books of poems; in addition, her works have been featured in magazines and journals and anthologies.

This work is Philip’s most recent work, and it is all based on the legalities of murdering Africans on a slave ship in the 1700s. In November of 1781, the captain of the slave ship that was carrying over 150 Africans decided that the crew would force all of them off the ship into churning waters so that they would drown and the owners of the slave ship would collect the insurance money. Based on the case Gregson v Gilbert, Zong! narrates the story behind the legal text. Partly about the people who were intentionally murdered for money, partly about the cruelty and greed of people, and partly about the legal action taken, Zong! is a lament that fills the space of and mourns the forgotten.

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