M NourbeSe Philip was born in Tobago. She earned a BSc from the University of the West Indies and an MA and LLB from the University of Western Ontario. Philip was a practicing lawyer for seven years before turning full-time to writing. She is the author of works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her collections of poetry include "Thorns" (1980); "Salmon Courage" (1983); "She Tries Her Tongue" (1989); "Her Silence Softly Breaks" (1988), which won a Casa de las Américas Prize for Literature; and "Zong!" (2008), a polyvocal, book-length poem concerning slavery and the legal system.
In addition to poetry, Philip has published two novels: the young adult novel :Harriet’s Daughter" (1988), a runner-up for both a Canadian Library Association Prize for children’s literature and a Max and Greta Abel Award for Multicultural Literature, and "Looking for Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence" (1991). Philip’s short story “Stop Frame” received a Lawrence Foundation Award in 1994. Her play "Coups and Calypsos" (1999) has been produced in both Toronto and London.
Philip’s essay collections include "Frontiers: Essays and Writings on Racism and Culture" (1992), "Showing Grit: Showboating North of the 44th Parallel" (1993), "CARIBANA: African roots and continuities—Race, Space and the Poetics of Moving" (1996), and "Genealogy of Resistance and Other Essays" (1997).
Philip’s numerous honors and awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and MacDowell Colony. She is the recipient of awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council. In 2001, she was recognized by the Elizabeth Fry Society with its Rebels for a Cause Award, and the YWCA awarded her its Women of Distinction in the Arts Award. Philip has received a Chalmers Fellowship in Poetry and has been writer-in-residence at Toronto Women’s Bookstore and McMaster University. In 2012, she received a NALIS Lifetime Literary Award.
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