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Review: M. NourbeSe Philip’s Blank is an essential remedy for our cultural amnesia

Plaza Requiem by Martha Batiz.

Blank: Essays & Interviews

By M. NourbeSe Philip

BookThug, 348 pages, $20

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Blank collects the essays and interviews of poet, playwright and novelist M. NourbeSe Philip, going back more than 25 years but with echoes today (these echoes addressed in "codas"). Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Philip has lived in Canada since 1968, though her work is likely better known in the United States. She writes from this location: being a person of African origin whose ancestors were forcibly moved to the Caribbean; whose culture is a lineage of resistance, because imperialism attempts to break a people by taking their culture; who chose Canada for being neither the dying empire (Britain) nor the ascendant one (the U.S.); but knows Canada is a deeply colonial place that requires establishing relations with Indigenous people. This may be a long description of Philip's positionality, but it gives a sense of the intersections of this work. Canada has severe (sometimes purposeful) amnesia when it comes to even relatively recent cultural criticism, especially from marginalized peoples. Blank is an essential remedy.

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