M. NourbeSe Philip Wins 2021 Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize

The 2021 Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize Winners are Gordon J. G. Asmundson (Social Sciences and Humanities) and M. NourbeSe Philip (Arts). Here is a brief interview with the Tobago-born writer and scholar M. NourbeSe Philip.

A former lawyer, M. NourbeSe Philip’s published works include the award-winning YA novel Harriet’s Daughter, the seminal poetry collection She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks, the speculative prose poem Looking for Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence, and her genre-breaking book-length epic Zong! NourbeSe Philip is a Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellow (Bellagio), and in 2020 she was the recipient of PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

What inspires you in your art practice?

For me it has not so much been inspiration as being chosen by a project, which has engaged much of my writing life: that project is language and all that flows from it. Working in and with a mother tongue, English, that is simultaneously a father tongue, creates a dynamic and tension that fuels my creative life.

What obstacles have you had to overcome in your work?

The primary obstacle I’ve had to overcome was Canadian racism in its myriad forms, the subtle and the not so subtle, which would have destroyed me as a writer. Fortunately, I was able to establish an audience in the United States.

What advice would you give to emerging writers?

Learn how to trust their gut instincts about their own work—sometimes the critics are wrong; be willing to risk—failure or success; and have someone in your life who loves what you do and will critique your work honestly. [. . .]

NourbeSe Philip (Arts): Born in Tobago, M. NourbeSe Philip (PWA – Poet Without Ambition) is an unembedded poet, essayist, novelist, playwright and independent scholar who lives in the space-time of Toronto. A former lawyer, her published works include the award-winning YA novel Harriet’s Daughter, the seminal poetry collection She Tries Her Tongue; Her Silence Softly Breaks, the speculative prose poem Looking for Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence, and her genre-breaking book-length epic Zong!. M. NourbeSe Philip is a Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellow (Bellagio) and in 2020 was the recipient of PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

Read more about the 2021 winners

For more information, visit M. NourbeSe Philip’s website.

2 thoughts on “M. NourbeSe Philip Wins 2021 Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize

  1. On Caribbean Literature day congratulations from my partner and myself Is humbly proud to have read this informative brilliant and beautiful interview

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