Freedom Business (Hardcover)

Including A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, A Native of Africa

By Marilyn Nelson, Deborah Muirhead (Illustrator)

Front Street, 9781932425574, 72pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2008

List Price: 18.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


The true narrative of a slave from Africa, crafted in verse by Marilyn Nelson. Born an African prince, Broteer Furro was captured by slave traders at age six. As he stepped onto a cargo ship, the vessel's steward purchased the boy and gave him a new name: Venture. He landed in Rhode Island and worked through a lifetime of slavery to buy not only his own freedom but the freedom of his wife and children. Remarkable in his own time for his ambition and physical stature, Venture Smith became history's first man to document both his capture from Africa and life as an American slave. In this breathtaking volume, Marilyn Nelson's poems sit opposite the text of Smith's own narrative. Nelson's controlled verse layers this edition with insight into Smith's stoic eighteenth-century prose. Deborah Dancy's stark watercolor collages highlight the tension between the economical language of the narrative and the turbulent emotion within the poems.

About the Author

Marilyn Nelson is a former poet laureate of Connecticut and three-time National Book Award finalist. She is the author of several award-winning books of poetry for children and young adults, including, Carver and Fortune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem. She is also the director of Soul Mountain Retreat, a writers' residency, located in East Haddam, Connecticut. where she lives.

Deborah Dancy received a BFA degree, an MS degree in printmaking, and an MFA in painting. She has exhibited throughout the country, and her numerous awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is on the faculty of the University of Connecticut. Ms. Dancy resides in Storrs, Connecticut.

Praise For Freedom Business: Including A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, A Native of Africa

* "It's surprising that this essential part of American biography and history isn't more widely known." --Booklist, starred review

* "An astonishing, heartbreaking cycle of poems. . . . Tragic, important, breathtaking. (author's, artist's notes)" --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"The poems have both the sense of natural speech and of oratory, giving rhythmic majesty to intensely detailed physical and emotional landscapes." --School Library Journal