Some Quotes from Pages of the Notanda of Zong! by M. NourbeSe Philip


there are two poems — the one i want to write and the one writing itself


Within the boundaries established by the words and their meanings there are silences; within each silence is the poem, which is revealed only when the text is fragmented and mutilated,

the ancients walk within us.


the metamorphosis occurs when the lower case "silence" of the colonised becomes the fertile Silence of the Traveler, a Silence that arises from a rooting in tradition and a knowing of what the colonial script was all about.


The language...promulgated the non-being of African peoples and I distrust its order, which hides disorder; its logic hiding the illogic and its rationality, which is simultaneously irrational.

In...disorder and illogic is the non-telling of the story that must be told.


Int he present case I use the text of the legal report almost as a painter uses paint or a sculptor stone — the material with which I work being preselected and limited. Henry Moore observed that his manner of working was to remove all extraneous material to allow the figure that was "locked" in the stone to reveal itself.


I want poetry to disassemble the ordered, to create disorder and mayhem so as to release the story that cannot be told, but which, through not-telling, will tell itself.

The story that cannot be told must not-tell itself in a language already contaminated, possibly irrevocably and fatally. I resist the temptation of trying to cleanse it through ordering techniques and practices, for the story must tell itself, even if it is a partial story; it must be allowed to be and not be. The half-tellings, and un-tellings force me to enter the zone of contamination to complete it; in so doing I risk being contaminated by the prescribed language of the law — by language in fact.