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Cover image for The freedom business : including A narrative of the life & adventures of Venture, a native of Africa
Title:
The freedom business : including A narrative of the life & adventures of Venture, a native of Africa
ISBN:
9781932425574
Edition:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
Honesdale, Pa. : Wordsong, c2008.
Physical Description:
72 p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm.
Reading Level:
1200 L Lexile
Geographic Term:
Summary:
Born the prince of Dukandarra, Guinea, Broteer Furro was captured by slave traders at age six. As Broteer stepped off the African continent and onto a cargo ship bound for Rhode Island, the vessel's steward purchased the boy and gave him a new name: Venture. The young man crossed the Atlantic Ocean, landed in Narragansett, and worked through three decades of slavery to buy not only his own freedom but also the freedom of his wife and children. Remarkable in his own time for his Ambition and physical stature, Venture Smith would become known to history as the first man to document both his capture from Africa and life as an American slave. Poems by Marilyn Nelson sit opposite the text of Venture Smith's own narrative.
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Book J 811.54 NEL 1 1
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Summary

Summary

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.


Author Notes

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.


Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6 Up-Poems in various forms parallel the reproduced text of A Narrative of the Life & Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa, published in 1798. Nelson's depictions and interpretations of scenes from Venture's account bring a musical, emotional, and inquisitive context to the true story of an enslaved African who eventually bought freedom for himself and his family. Similar in format to Fortune's Bones (2004) and Carver (2001, both Front St), the volume features poems on the right-hand pages, facing the ongoing narrative on the left (amazingly, the two keep pace). Text floats over abstract earth-toned art that lends qualities of light and texture to match the tone of each selection. The poems have both the sense of natural speech and of oratory, giving rhythmic majesty to intensely detailed physical and emotional landscapes. They are dense but rich, and encourage readers to approach the 18th-century narrative (which may seem oddly narrow-minded or stilted to today's youngsters) in a variety of ways. Respectful of both her audience and her subject, Nelson adds to her unique body of work connecting youngsters to history through a combination of primary-source material and verse.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Horn Book Review

(Middle School, High School) Venture Smith was captured by slave traders in Guinea when he was six. Nelson partners Smith's 1798 autobiography, reproduced in full on the left-hand pages of this book, with her poems, inspired by particular moments from the ex-slave's life, on the right. As Nelson acknowledges in her preface, Smith's is an unusual slave memoir: bought and sold so many times himself, Smith goes on to purchase slaves of his own, and even professes disbelief when they seem ungrateful. Smith's text is dignified and largely lacking eighteenth-century flourishes; Nelson's poems, twenty-five in all, are a mix of free and formal verse, including a quiet subversion of Robert Frost: "Last night I chopped wood in my sleep. / Last night I chopped wood in my sleep." In all cases, Nelson uses her poems to bring an expanding emotionalism to Smith's stolid, factual account. Where his text says simply, "I married Meg, a slave of [my master's] who was about my age," Nelson gives the couple three beautiful love poems: "My head on your breast warm as manioc steaming from the fire." Subtly tinted paintings are suggestive and atmospheric rather than literal; the whole has an understated power. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In an extraordinary slave narrative recorded in 1798, Venture Smith remembers his capture in Guinea as a child; the horrific journey on the slave ship to Rhode Island; 30 years of hard labor; being sold and separated from his wife; and his years of work to buy his freedom and that of his family and to purchase his own land. Smith's original, first-person account, published in 1798, appears opposite Nelson's stirring poems, which are written in Smith's voice and both intensify and comment on his experiences. Some readers may decide to read Smith's whole continuous narrative before they begin again and read it with the poems. As in the book's title, the poems' elemental metaphor is the horror of people as business commodities, investments to speculate on or convert to cash, a workforce bought and sold. But the triumphant climax reverses the business--I own myself--and then Smith earns enough to buy his pregnant wife, rejoicing that their child will be born free. Never intrusive, Dancy's sepia background art in watercolor, acrylics, and collage includes ink lines that evoke chains and ropes and then broken bonds. It's surprising that this essential part of American biography and history isn't more widely known. Suggest this as a crossover title to adults.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2008 Booklist


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