Zong!, Throwing the Bones of Ezekiel’s Vision and Singing Them Home

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


M. NourbeSe Philip's book-length poem, Zong!, while seemingly focused on a particular catastrophe which occurred in 1781 aboard the slave ship Zong, is also a metonymy for the entirety of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its legacy. Philip's book (written with the guidance of the voice of the ancestors Setaey Adamu Boateng) is an attempt to retrieve the voices of the drowned, unnamed slaves. It makes its difficult–almost impossible–poems from out of the words of the court case between the owners and the insurers of the ship. Through Zong!, a poem which remembers and grieves the unnamed African victims of the Zong, Philip asks if and how it is possible to make meaning of the suffering of the past, and even to heal. In tracing and retracing these questions, the poem goes beyond grief to become a work of prophetic annunciation, both joining and disjointing “the visionary company.”.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Theology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Circe
  • Ezekiel
  • M. NourbeSe Philip
  • Prophecy
  • Zong
  • slave-trade
  • visionary poetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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