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Ardency by Kevin Young

Gina Marie LoBianco

  Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels.
Kevin Young.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.
272 pages, $27.95 (hardcover).
ISBN: 9780307267641 (Library of Congress).
Buy at Amazon.

In Ardency, Kevin Young employs epistolary modes to chronicle the circumstances surrounding the Amistad Rebels, or Mendi, men of Sierra Leone, who killed the captain of their ship and rerouted towards Africa in 1839, but were consequentially captured and put on trial. The Rebels' "ghost ship," or "The Flying African," as it is referenced in the poetry, is illustrated in the opening of the book, specifically as the living quarters for the captives who rebelled, which is described as being the dimension of three feet by three feet.

Young traces the lineage of these enslaved Africans by using the thoughts of the Amistad Rebel Leader, Cinque, to primer the page, and by premiering James Covey, an African who translated for the jailed rebels. In the form of letters, sermons, and prayers, Ardency serves an artifact that sits on the shelf like an exhibit in a museum; for one needn't have prior knowledge of the Amistad Rebels to read the book. Rather, Young teaches and masterfully captures his readers' curiosity while exploring an echo of the past that resonates in between the trials of poetry and lineage.

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