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Poetry African American


by (author) Alison Clarke

University of Calgary Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
African American, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

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Phillis Wheatley was the first African American to publish a book of poetry. In 1773, her book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, was published to international acclaim. Wheatley was presented In London as "the African genius," and her writing was published in New England and England alike. Phillis Wheatley's name was known in households throughout literate North America. Yet Phillis Wheatley was a slave.

In Phillis, Alison Clarke reaches through time to tell the story of this remarkable woman. Through a series of poems and prose-poems, Clarke presents Wheatley's world with depth and liveliness, reimagining the past for a modern audience while bringing sensibility and passion to the story of Wheatley's life. Wheatley's story is told in first-person poetry that illuminates significant chapters of her life, capturing the brilliant heights of her writing career along with the inevitable, brutal injustices she faced as an enslaved Black person in North America.

Interspersed with poems written from the viewpoint of Black intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and other people who themselves were inspired by Wheatley, this is a collection of poetry that celebrates the resilience and accomplishments of Black history.

About the author

Alison Clarke is a writer and artist. She is the author of The Sisterhood Series, and winner of the Diversity Magazine Award for Writer of the Yea

Alison Clarke's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Clarke gives Phillis Wheatley a voice that sings, in how she gives us a sense of her life before slavery, during, and after . . . You—re gathered into her life, and you feel blessed because of it. That Alison Clarke has done this so very artfully, and with such detailed scholarship and research, is a brilliant thing.

?Kim Fahner, periodicities

Phillis is a testament to the power of literature, particularly poetry . . . as a medium capable of containing the multitudes of history waiting to be written into being.

?Margaryta Golovchenko, ANMLY

Phillis is intensely packed with ideas . . . [an] engrossing deep dive into the iconic poet's life.

Tom Murray, Edmonton Journal

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