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Electric Arches

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,705 Ratings  ·  253 Reviews
Electric Arches is an imaginative exploration of black girlhood and womanhood through poetry, visual art, and narrative prose. Blending stark realism with the fantastical, Ewing takes us from the streets of Chicago to an alien arrival in an unspecified future, deftly navigating boundaries of space, time, and reality with delight and flexibility.
Paperback, 94 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Haymarket Books
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Eve I hope so! I used to be a middle school English Language Arts teacher and I definitely wrote the book with a middle or high school audience in mind. I…moreI hope so! I used to be a middle school English Language Arts teacher and I definitely wrote the book with a middle or high school audience in mind. I think some of the poems require more scaffolding than others, and some are more accessible than others, but I happen to think it's a good book for middle schoolers. (less)

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Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about this book. The poems that were amazing were truly amazing, full of richness and depth about black girlhood and black womanness. The same goes for the amazing prose pieces. There was an interesting strain of afro futurism throughout that I wish was more fully explored. I stumbled with the book’s structure and arrangement because I was looking for more of a connective tissue. But oh, the spirit of this collection soars and Ewing tackles so much across the writ ...more
Oct 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, poetry
A whimsical collection of poetry, prose, and art, Electric Arches explores the depths of Black girlhood and womanhood. Ewing writes accessible poems mostly based on her sundry memories of growing up in Chicago. As with her stories, though, her poems often take fantastical turns. The collection is divided into three parts of similar length, and the principles of Afro-futurism and magical realism appear in each. While I enjoyed some of the pieces, especially those in the second section, the collec ...more
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I write this review as an outsider.

Poetry is often intensely personal in ways prose avoids. This is a collection of insights, remembrances, and calls to push forth. It is also an invitation for readers, to bear witness, to reflect.

"What words can you offer us to help us be free black people in a world that does not love us?"

A rating on technique I am not qualified to give, so the rating is strictly subjective. I did enjoy it. I appreciated being invited to step inside a place I'm not allowed an
There were moments of magic, but too few. There was no discernible theme or context/connection from one work to the next.

Ewing's prose is lilting and magnificent. I loved, "What I talk about When I Talk About Black Jesus."

For several poems where the lines were presented in script, they were nigh unto illegible. The font was too small to read, for those poems printed with white font in a black background. The publisher did her no favors by not having a few readers comment specifically on the desi
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everything about this was everything I needed in life, but didn't know. Every word was chosen carefully, and the combination of real life and magic is sincerely beautiful. Multiple times I cried and the poem about Fullerton Ave was amazing. And to the notebook kid, which I've read before to my students, is still SO GOOD.

If you love chicago, if you love being black, if you love magical realism, if you think you like poetry but aren't sure, this book is for you.
So basically, for everyone who love
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This came in the mail today, I sat down to look at it and ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting. Eve Ewing's writing is spectacular, the kind of poetry that makes you hold your breath as you read without even realizing it. Please, get this book.
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Speak this to yourself
until you know it is true."

this book is magic
 The Black Geek
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
When I first heard about Electric Arches, I looked forward to reading Ewing's book. I had been impressed by Ewing's scholarly research and academic biography. With this said, I was a bit disappointed in this book for the following reasons:

1) The haphazard organization of the poems made this book difficult to read.

2) The structure of the poems included awkward and abrupt line breaks .

3) The collection included "filler" poems that did not connect to the theme of Black girlhood or Black womanhood (
Mar 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2018indch
An interesting mix of poetry, prose, and art. Powerful meditations on growing up as a black female in Chicago. Ewing's poems are both extremely specific yet bloom beyond that, filled with memories of the past and the future.
Here for the Chicago nostalgia alone.
Leah Rachel
Electric Arches by Eve L. Ewing is absolutely stunning. With a dash of the tale of an alien invasion, Ewing takes us through black girlhood and womanhood, in a variety of prose, poetic, and artistic styles, all of which are gorgeous.

Ewing’s book is divided into three sections: ‘true stories,’ ‘oil and water,’ and ‘letters from the flatlands.’ Her poems, stories, and works took my breath away. Her words flow easily from page to page, casting visual shadows and best read, like so much poetry, alou
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure the last time I read a book that left me feeling so...human. "Electric Arches" reminded me that being Black is to be human in a way that is deeply rooted in the community, the Earth, and the cosmos. I cried multiple times while reading this, mostly because Ewing's writing style is effortlessly moving, but also because the things she talks about are real, and important. I needed this book as much as I can honestly say you, and everyone else, need this book.
Blending verse with magical realism and a dash of speculative fiction, Ewing's words flow beautifully in a time where ugliness abounds. Electric Arches is what every black girl needs in her arsenal to face a world that hates her virulently. If you read this book, you will feel invincible.
Jherane Patmore
Electric Arches is a great combo of poetry and Afrofuturism. A lot of the poems went over my head, probably because I’m not American, but I loved the ones I liked.
Would recommend for fans of Janelle Monae, Morgan Parker, and Willow Smith.
Glauber Ribeiro
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this book! Except for the part where it made me cry in a crowded cafeteria. That was not cool. It should come with a warning.

OK, it wasn't crowded. But it was a cafeteria. And i did cry when i read What I Talk About When I Talk About Black Jesus. And there's a lot more deadly stuff in there.

Honestly, buy this book. Give it to your friends and enemies. Then maybe she'll write more.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This collection of poems, lyric essays and so on opened up a deeper meaning to shared black experiences, especially as a black woman. It's a work of time travel for me, and disturbing the timeline to go back to a favorite poem space is totally okay here. I'm still floored to have been able to have an ARC of this book, and I hope it really touches other the way it touched me. I also hope that nonblack women find their own sense of comfort and happiness within the pages.
Chantal Johnson
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2017
Stunning. Masterful. Find a copy to keep forever. To teach your daughters and sons and so forth. This book will and should live forever.
3.5 stars.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, chicago
Electric Arches is a sweet love letter to black girlhood and the Chicago of Ewing's youth. The Chicago that Ewing describes is in many ways foreign to me, but her writing was often so evocative I felt like I could see, touch, and hear her Logan Square at night, her bus ride down Fullerton Avenue, or her Saturday afternoon at the salon. In addition, many of the pieces about her family members really shined, and I would love to read more essays from her.

My main criticism is that some of the pieces
Kurt Ostrow
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved the Afro-futurist first poem about Black revolutionaries dropping from the moon. Loved (and will teach!) the re-tellings poems with hand-written magical endings. Really liked this collection — very accessible and powerful and beautiful.
Harper Miller
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Sifting through some of these ratings, and it’s clear to me a lot of these accounts belong to bots. Holy spamming, Batman! Not cool.

I follow Eve Ewing on Twitter and I also adore her publisher, Haymarket Books. I was thrilled to finally read her poetry so, I purchased a copy of Electric Arches. It took me a minute to figure out why this collection didn’t work for me. It felt disjointed and I felt no connection to the words on the page. I had very high hopes for this book, but I wanted so much m
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a great collection of poems in an era of poems with random line breaks and shallow meaning. I loved the sci-fi elements and some of the turns of phrase made me gasp with how clever they were, literally changing how I view certain concepts. I enjoyed the celebration of blackness and black womanhood, only I wish that perhaps the poems fit together more coherently.
Jan Priddy
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
The entire book is put together by someone having some fun with page design. Fonts shift, text might be Times or script or white on black. It has some really musical poems and some brief stories in two versions, which I particularly appreciated. I wanted more of the story and then the truth of the story (as I thought of them). I confess I bought this book for the cover and a review I read on line. I found a few poems that felt like prose cut into lines, but I will look for more from this author.
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Knock me out. This is poetry that can change the world, because it isn't trying to. It's only showing us a part of the world we too often ignore or discredit. But with this stunning writing you can't not take notice.
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
...... still processing. not what i expected.
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I thought her writing was magical. I kept thinking "this one is my favorite" until I turned the next page and discovered another one that spoke to me or expressed something just so. I loved the last poem addressed to youth in prison. I'm gonna donate copies of this collection to the prisons in Wisconsin. Not all, but some, of my clients are readers. I'd like them to read that last poem, regardless of their age. What a way with words she has.
Bogi Takács
I thought this was absolutely wonderful.

No review for now, because I had to take it back to the library in a rush (I have been really unwell and several books became overdue) and I want to quote extensively from it for my review. I want to buy it, because this is definitely a book to have and treasure. Also to gift to people ;)

Disclosures: Source of the book - Lawrence Public Library / I don't know the author at all
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is so good I kept right on reading it at a bus stop in 20 degrees without mittens while the chill wind snapped the pages back against my numb fingers.

I know I am just a spectator here and my inherent privilege says this was not written for me. But there are those places in these pieces that speak so deeply to me nonetheless. Here to learn and bear witness and do better.
Adam Morgan
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This might sound like hyperbole, but I'm being 100% honest when I say: 'Electric Arches' will go down as one of the best and most iconic poetry books about Chicago...ever. You have never seen Chicago this way before, and regardless of where you live, it'll change your perspective. Can't recommend enough.
'Electric Arches' is as much a visual experience as a literary one. I say that not only because of the images interspersed throughout the text but also because, at her very best, Ewing uses rhythm and metaphor to draw the most splendid pictures of her hometown. Ewing celebrates Chicago's beauty and lays bare its horrors. She compels her readers to fall in love with the city and the Black folks who are rooted there. This collection is at once memoir and fiction, at once remembrances from the past ...more
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Dr. Eve L. Ewing is a sociologist of education whose research is focused on racism, social inequality, and urban policy, and the impact of these forces on American public schools and the lives of young people. She is a Provost's Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago; in 2018, she will begin as Assistant Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chica ...more
“If he don't ever buy you nothing
and I mean nothing -
I don't mean your birthstone,
I don't mean groceries, even -
I mean if he don't buy you an ice-cream cone,
I mean if he don't buy you time when you had none,
I mean if he don't buy your fantastic tales, calls them nonsense,
then he's gotta go.”
“Ever since black people came to this country we have needed a Moses. There has always been so much water that needs parting. It seems like all black children, from the time we are born, come into the world in the midst of a rushing current that threatens to swallow us whole if we don't heed the many, many warnings we are told to heed. We come into the world as alchemists of the water, bending it, willing it to bear us safe passage and cleanse us along the way, to teach us to move with joy and purpose and to never, ever stop flowing forward into something grand waiting at the other end of the delta. We're a people forever in exodus.
Before Moses there was Abraham, and ever since black people came to this country we have needed an Abraham. We have always been sending each other away -- for our own good, don't you know it -- and calling each other back, finding kinship where a well springs from tears. We are masters of the art of sacrifice; no one is more skilled at laying their greatest beloveds on the altar and feeling certainty even as we feel sorrow. And when we see the ram, we know how to act fast, and prosper, even as the stone knife warms in our hands.”
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