- Name Her What Was
She was no one’s daughter—not Miss Tulie’s or Miss Spicer’s;she lived with them and the suntrapped in her glow black skinsmooth, small and compact—a friendnothing sweeter thanmilk condensed we loved she stole.
They skinned that offended handflesh-burnt offering raw and pinkunderneath like mine still sealed with love—(Her mother was where?)Over us the hand pink and blackheals and confuses utterly:the coalpot! was it?Or did it hurt?I never asked or if my tears stung. [End Page 31]
M. NourbeSe Philip was born in Trinidad & Tobago and completed her undergraduate education at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. She later received degrees in political science and law at the University of Western Ontario, and practiced law until 1983. Widely known for her literary innovations and experimentations, she is author of five books of poetry, two novels, four books of essays, and two dramas, of which Zong! (poetry, 2008) and Harriet’s Daughter (drama, 2000) are her most recent. Harriet’s Daughter was originally published as a novel by Heinemann in the UK in 1988. She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks won her the Casa de las Américas Prize for poetry (Cuba) in 1998. She has also received a number of grants, fellowships, and awards for her other work—e.g., a Chalmers Fellowship in Poetry, a McDowell Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation residency in Bellagio (Italy), and a Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry. She lives in Canada.