Ship Shape

Focusing on a sense of duty—to record family history, to envision wholeness out of fragments, and to dissolve the differences that prejudice may interpose between private and public selves—this rich collection of poetry hinges upon a sequence of poems that excavate the missing history of Samboo, an African slave brought from the Caribbean to the city of Lancaster in Lancashire, England. Drawing connections between present-day Lancaster and the foundations of its 18th-century prosperity in slave trading, the account places Samboo’s tragedy in the Lancaster landscape and text that offers a deeply personal response to the bicentennial of the abolition of the British slave trade. Contemporary poems provide both a counterpoint to the emptiness of Samboo’s too-soon curtailed life and echo a continuity of loss wrought by the fragmentation of Afro-Caribbean families through continuing migrations and death.

Author of Ship Shape