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Writer-in-Residence, 2013-14

The Department of English and Writing Studies
is proud to announce the 2013-14 Writer-in-Residence,
M. NourbeSe Philip

Click here for an Invitation to a Reading by our Writer-in-Residence on September 27.

Guggenheim fellow, winner of a Toronto Arts Award, poet, fiction writer, essayist, dramatist and lawyer, M. NourbeSe Philip was born in Tobago and moved to Canada to attend Western University, where she graduated with a law degree in 1973. After seven years in practice, first at Parkdale Community Services and then in the partnership Jemmott and Philip, Philip left law in 1983 to devote her time to writing.

Philip’s most recent book, Zong! (2008) is a book-length poem based on an eighteenth-century court case, Gregson vs. Gilbert, the only public document related to the lives and deaths of 150 Africans murdered for insurance money aboard the slave ship Zong. Fugal, fragmented, and deeply moving, Zong! has been adapted through multimedia performance, including a dramatized reading at Toronto Harbourfront as part of  "rock.paper.sistahz" in April 2006. In 2012, Philip held a seven-hour interactive reading of the complete poem at b current studio space in Toronto while simultaneously, in Blomfontaine, South Africa, another audience held a collective reading.

Philip’s other major works include the young adult novel Harriet’s Daughter (1988), her second novel Looking for Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence (1991) and the groundbreaking and award-winning poetry collection She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks (1989), winner of the Casa de las Americas Prize in poetry. Author of four collections of essays, three additional collections of poetry, and two plays, Philip’s work spans and interweaves genres, attending to language in particular—her work is often noted for its deconstruction of grammar, while her newest poem engages legal language. Philip takes up themes of colonialism, race, memory, identity, and place, modeling the intersections of politics and poetics with her innovations on form. In her non-fiction work, Philip is a committed social critic, bringing her years of study in economics, political science and law to bear on Canadian social policy. Her poetry is included in the new collection, The Great Black North: Contemporary African-Canadian Poetry (Frontenac House, 2013)

Former Writer-in-Residence at University of the West Indies, McMaster University, University of Windsor, Urban Ink, b current, and the Toronto Women’s Book Store, M. NourbeSe Philip will join us at Western University as the 2013-14 Writer-in-Residence in the Fall term. (Biography by Nina Budabin McQuown)

NourbeSe Philip will hold weekly office hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, to offer feedback to, and consultation with, both experienced and novice creative writers from the university and the London community. She will accept works of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and drama. 

Please note: Ms. Philip will begin her office hours on Wednesday, September 4th and Thursday, September 5 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, in UC 184.  To schedule an appointment please contact Vivian Foglton (Secretary, Department of English), at 519-661-3403, or email her at

NourbeSe Philip’s residency is  co-sponsored by the James A. and Marjorie Spenceley Fund, the Faculty of Law, the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research, Western’s Women’s Caucus, and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Department of English - The University of Western Ontario
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