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.
posted by ChuraChura (8 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
Phillis Wheatley! Our local community orchestra performs Nkeiru Okoye’s The Journey of Phillis Wheatley every so often. It's a lovely piece and was actually commissioned by another local orchestra.

Read more about the composer and piece here.

A narrator represents Phillis Wheatley, and different themes and musical instruments represent different characters and elements of the story. Her life in Senegal is depicted, as is her kidnapping and being sold as a slave, getting used to her new life in Boston, and finally, becoming a successful and acclaimed poet. The musical themes are truly charming and combined very engaging way. It’s a lovely way for children to learn about the orchestra as well as about the poet Phillis Wheatley, her life and achievements.
posted by stripesandplaid at 6:42 PM on August 3, 2020 [2 favorites]


Just reading about her today in Kendi's Stamp From The Beginning ❤❤❤
posted by supermedusa at 7:02 PM on August 3, 2020


I'm trying to imagine having to answer, throughout your life, to the name of the ship that bore you into bondage, and I realize.. whatever measure of perception or empathy I may possess it's just laughably insufficient to understand what it would truly be like to be subjected to the all-encompassing dehumanization inherent in the institution of slavery.
posted by Nerd of the North at 9:19 PM on August 3, 2020 [6 favorites]


I did a paper on her in American Lit in college. Really excited about this new book.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:10 AM on August 4, 2020


Chike Jeffers and Peter Adamson covered Wheatley in an episode of their History of Africana Philosophy podcast.
posted by Kattullus at 7:42 AM on August 4, 2020 [1 favorite]


As a child I named my first fish Phillis Wheatley (thank you, momma, for raising me up with proper heroes). Cannot wait to read this collection.
posted by youarenothere at 11:14 AM on August 4, 2020 [1 favorite]


Oooh, this is so exciting! Can't wait to read it! Review is great too - thank you ChuraChura !
posted by esoteric things at 5:56 PM on August 4, 2020


This is fantastic... thank you for posting!
posted by somanyamys at 6:21 PM on August 5, 2020


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