New Poetry Title Examines the Amistad Event

The events surrounding the abduction, mutiny, and legal trials of the Amistad Africans have been told and retold in a number of stories, books, works of art, and films. Perhaps less well-known are treatments of the topic in poetry. As early as 1853, poet James Monroe Whitfield’s “To Cinque” appeared in America: And Other Poems, which was published by James S. Leavitt in Buffalo, New York. More recently, Elizabeth Alexander‘s 2005 book, American Sublime, featured a poetic cycle on the Amistad Event, and the Amistad Research Center itself was fortunate to publish the poem “In Remembrance of La Amistad and the Slaves Aboard” by student Correena Spangler in the May 2010 edition of e-Amistad Reports.

Cover of Kevin Young’s

Poet Kevin Young has now provided the fullest poetic treatment of the Amistad Event in Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011). Young, who is the Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English and curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University, was inspired by the letters written by the Amistad Africans while jailed during the course of their legal pursuits. Those letters, housed in the American Missionary Association Archives at the Amistad Research Center, as well as other sources provided the historical background to Young’s work, which he discussed in an interview with The Paris Review earlier this year.

Young’s Ardency now joins the numerous titles listed in the Center’s Bibliography of the Amistad Case. It, as well as other works by Young, are also housed and preserved at Amistad as part of the Center’s library collection.

Posted by Christopher Harter


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