Marlene Nourbese Philip and Marysia Lewandowska; Toronto; 4/12/88

Writer and poet Marlene Nourbese Philip, a black African artist based in Toronto, describes a book of poetry she is working on, and in particular one poem called 'Discourse on the Logic of Language', in response to Lewandowska's introduction of the notion of 'the missing text'. The poem approaches the English language as a 'father tongue' for slaves and immigrants (imposed, patriarchal) and the Western canon of literature as an experiment-ground for highlighting and undermining formal conventions.

Her poem forces an unconventional way of reading, for it includes prose written in the margins and a series of multiple-choice questions. The conversation explores 'margins' and 'the marginal' as sites for literal and metaphorical exploration, as frontiers that potentially lead to the charting of new ground, rather than as places excluded from the mainstream.

Another strategy both artists identify is the use of silence, both as a state of non-submission from the position of a colonized people, and from the position of a woman. Nourbese Philip describes another of her poems, called 'Silence', in which Dr Livingstone discovers the silence of a whole people. She outlines her belief that the best strategy for opposition to the mainstream is to seek metamorphosis and change from these sites of marginality.


Accession No. WAA.005
Artist: Marlene Nourbese Philip and Marysia Lewandowska
Container annotation: SIDE A: Carole Conde continued SIDE B: Marlene Nourbese Philip
Place/Year: Toronto 4/12/88
Type: Private Conversation
Technical aspects:
Duration: 60'
Tape capacity: 90
Tape brand: TDK