The Age of Phillis

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<P>NAACP Image Award Winner for Outstanding Literary Work for Poetry<BR>2020 National Book Award for Poetry, Longlist<BR>2020 LA Times Book Award Finalist</P><P>In 1773, a young, African American woman named Phillis Wheatley published a book of poetry that challenged Western prejudices about African and female intellectual capabilities. Based on fifteen years of archival research, The Age of Phillis, by award-winning writer Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, imagines the life and times of Wheatley: her childhood in the Gambia, West Africa, her life with her white American owners, her friendship with Obour Tanner, and her marriage to the enigmatic John Peters. Woven throughout are poems about Wheatley's "age"—the era that encompassed political, philosophical, and religious upheaval, as well as the transatlantic slave trade. For the first time in verse, Wheatley's relationship to black people and their individual "mercies" is foregrounded, and here we see her as not simply a racial or literary symbol, but a human being who lived and loved while making her indelible mark on history.</P><P>mothering #1<BR>Yaay, Someplace in the Gambia, c. 1753</P><P>after<BR>the after-birth<BR>is delivered<BR>the mother stops<BR>holding her breath<BR>the mid-wife gives<BR>what came before<BR>her just-washed pain<BR>her insanity pain<BR>an undeserved pain<BR>a God-given pain<BR>oh oh oh pain<BR>drum-talking pain<BR>witnessing pain<BR>Allah<BR>a mother offers<BR>You this gift<BR>prays You find<BR>it acceptable<BR>her living pain<BR>her creature pain<BR>her pretty-little-baby<BR>pain</P>

Publication date
February 20, 2020
Page count
Paper ISBN
File size
3 MB