Electric Arches

Electric Arches

4.28 (2,028 ratings by Goodreads)
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Electric Arches is an imaginative exploration of Black girlhood and womanhood through poetry, visual art, and narrative prose. Blending stark realism with the surreal and fantastic, Ewing's narrative takes us from the streets of 1990s Chicago to an unspecified future, navigating the boundaries of space, time, and reality. Ewing imagines familiar figures in magical circumstances - Koko Taylor is a tall-tale hero; LeBron James travels through time and encounters his teenage self. Electric Arches invites conversations about race, gender, the city, identity, and the joy and pain of growing up.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 94 pages
  • 204 x 204 x 10.16mm | 181.44g
  • Chicago, United States
  • English
  • 1608468569
  • 9781608468560
  • 252,183

Table of contents

true stories

Arrival Day
the first time [a re-telling]
The Device
four boys on Ellis [a re-telling]
Sestina with Matthew Henson's Fur Suit
true stories about Koko Taylor
another time [a re-telling]
Note from LeBron James to LeBron James
Excerpts from an interview with Ron Artest
how i arrived

oil and water

Shea Butter Manifesto
why you cannot touch my hair
appletree [on blackwomanhood, from and to Erykah Badu]
what I mean when I say I'm sharpening my oyster knife
To Stacey, as you were
Ode to Luster's Pink Oil
one thousand and one ways to touch your own face
to the notebook kid
Thursday Morning, Newbury Street

letters from the flat lands

On Prince
Origin Story
Chicago is a chorus of barking dogs
at the salon
montage in a car
The Discount Mega Mall (In Memoriam)
I come from the fire city
Hood Run
One Good Time for Marilyn Mosby
Columbus Hospital
What I Talk About When I Talk About Black Jesus
at work with my father
Fullerton Avenue
Requiem for Fifth Period and the Things That Went On Then
untitled anti-elegy
I wish for them a mundane life
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Review quote

"Again and again reading Eve Ewing's Electric Arches I felt some blooming in my body, or some flock of herons batting into the air in my body, which I think was indicating something like joy at witnessing the imagination at work in these poems, the imagination borne of rigorous attention coupled with critical love. Thankfully, there's a word for all that: tenderness. And the joy is that we learn tenderness by witnessing it. Which is to say, and it's not too much to say, this book is one of the maps to our survival."
-Ross Gay, author of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude "Of course she had me at Koko Taylor. She had me again at shea butter and Ron Artest and especially at an eerily intriguing fur suit. This is an effusive celebration of black girlhood in all its muted but relentless sparkle, a tenacious exploration of all its lives, the wide-aloud witnessing of a born storyteller slicing her two-wheeler through the streets of a broken and boisterous city. You won't believe this is Eve Ewing's first book. It's that assured, that crafted. Ever heard Koko Taylor's guttural growl, the lyric that floors you like a backhand slap? It's that too."
-Patricia Smith "I didn't think it was possible for one book to contain work and worlds that would be loved by eight year olds and eighty year olds, jr high school dropouts and emeritus english professors. I didn't think it was possible for one book to contain the emotional sweat of Chicago, Dorchester and Yazoo City, Mississippi. I didn't think it was possible for one book to make us smell the residue of classroom erasers, empty White Castle bags and wet wondrous balls of Black girl hair clinging to the bottoms of bathtubs. With Electrics Arches, Eve Ewing has written a book I thought was un-write-able. The book is as precise as it is ambitious, pulling equally on shared memories and individual imagination. Every page feels like a beginning and end, an invitation and conclusion, but never in that order. Somehow Eve Ewing created a book that is at once formally spectacular and grounded enough to ask readers the two most important questions in art: will you stop to remember with me and will you help me change the world with that memory. Electric Arches is alive."
-Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division

"Reading Eve L. Ewing's Electric Arches is such an awakening and active experience- this book time travels, makes myth, immerses, paints, opens pathways. This is a living and breathing document, memoir and map, guidebook and scroll. 'Recall this,' writes Ewing in 'Shea Butter Manifesto,' both as invitation and as spellbinding command. I'm awestruck by the rigor and intimacy of this book, by its insistent love for both black past and black future. Ewing leaves no unnamed ritual uncovered, no implicit idiom uncelebrated. This book is a gift, a visual and lyrical offering to be treasured as gospel."
-Morgan Parker, author of There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce "Exquisite."

-Ava Duvernay

"Striking and visionary... a stunning debut."

-Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"In her genre-defying debut, Eve Ewing is imagining a future of hope and safety for all the kids of Chicago."

-Chicago Reader

"Electric Arches is a complicated love letter to Chicago... a reminder that magic is made of asphalt and chain-link fences, the lives we painfully live in our childhoods where imagination offers us bodily escape."

-The Millions

"A formally inventive portrait of blackness, of womanhood, Electric Arches delivers both hope and brutal honesty... an inspired debut that reaches beyond the inscribed to the imagined."


"Spellbinding... these poems will change you for the better. They will make you whole."

-Well Read Black Girl

"A fiercely imaginative celebration of black girlhood and the power of poetry to (re)create the past, the future, and a path for surviving the present."

-Literary Hub

"A groundbreaking collection of poetry, short fiction, and art from one of Chicago's cultural icons... Electric Arches will go down as one of the best and most iconic poetry books about Chicago...ever."

-Chicago Review of Books

"Homegrown hero Eve Ewing is the artist and educator that Chicago needs right now."


"A tender letter to black youth."

-Pacific Standard

"A powerful revelation."

-Brightest Young Things

"Ewing illuminates difficult truths with a type of grace that enthralls and informs."


"Eve Ewing is one of Chicago's most visible cultural icons."

-Chicago Magazine

"Eve L. Ewing tries to imagine a way out of this mess with poetry and prose."


"An intimate look at the changing Chicago landscape."

-The Lily (Washington Post)

"Despite the poems' slippery relationship with time and space, their truth is rooted firmly in the America of 2017."

-The Awl
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About Eve L. Ewing

Eve L. Ewing is a writer, scholar, artist, and educator from Chicago. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, The Atlantic, and many other venues. She is a sociologist at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.
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Rating details

2,028 ratings
4.28 out of 5 stars
5 47% (956)
4 37% (745)
3 14% (276)
2 2% (42)
1 0% (9)
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