Now in paperback, a haunting chorus of voices that tells the story of the captivity, education, language, hopes, dreams, and fight for freedom, of the African Americans abducted in the Amistad rebellion.
Based on the 1840 mutiny on board the slave ship Amistad, Ardency begins with “Buzzard,” a sequence of poems told in the voice of the interpreter for the captive rebels, who were jailed in New Haven. In “Correspondence,” we encounter the remarkable letters to John Quincy Adams and others that the captives wrote from jail. The book culminates in “Witness,” a libretto chanted by Cinque, the rebel leader, who yearns for his family and freedom while eloquently evoking the Amistads’ conversion and life in America. As Young conjures this array of characters, interweaving the liberation cry of Negro spirituals and the indoctrinating wordplay of American primers, he delivers his signature songlike immediacy at the service of an epic built on the ironies, violence, and virtues of American history.
KEVIN YOUNG is the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and poetry editor of The New Yorker. He is the author of twelve books of poetry and prose, including Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015, long-listed… More about Kevin Young