she smiled in white / men’s faces to gain her freedom.
August 3, 2020 6:20 PM Subscribe
259 years ago, a girl captured somewhere between present-day Gambia and Ghana stepped off the Phillis, a slave ship, and onto the docks of Boston Harbor. She was thought to be “about seven years old, at this time, from the circumstance of shedding her front teeth.” In centuries to come, she would be recognized as the mother of the African-American literary tradition. A new collection of poetry by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers reimagines Phillis Wheatley’s life and the age in which she lived, combining fiction and scholarship to fill in the gaps in the archive, especially as they pertain to the lives of enslaved women in America, setting forth the life of the first documented African-American poet in verse by a Black poet of the 21st century. Elizabeth Winkler on how Phillis Wheatley was recovered through history for The New Yorker.
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