READ: ELECTRIC ARCHES
By braiding together poetry, visual art, and narrative prose, “Electric Arches” from educator, artist, and activist Eve L. Ewing is a dynamic work of art that speaks to both the particularities of black girlhood and womanhood as well as illuminates the kind of struggles with sexism, creative stagnation, and love that resonate across cultures.
Much like legendary writers and activists Grace Paley and Alice Walker, Ewing deftly interweaves social commentary and soul-stirring prose to inspire deep reflection. In “the first time [a re-telling],” Ewing writes about a heartbreaking encounter with racism as a little girl that transforms into magical realism. In “how I arrived,” Ewing excavates her own origin story with the kind of sublime sentences that will spark a fire in your belly. And in the epic “appletree,” Ewing skates across time to weave a luminous portrait of artistry, womanhood, and identity.
Although I had to look in the “Racial Studies” section of the bookstore to find this incredible read, it’s an exquisite work of poetry, period. Ewing writes with frankness, passion, and a tender attention to the small gestures that make up a life. “Electric Arches” is the kind of transcendent and genre-blurring work poetry that will make you grateful for the power of the written word and thankful for artists such as Ewing who know how to turn a palmful of words scattered across the soil of a page into a thriving orchard.
As you read “Electric Arches,” please share your thoughts in the comments. Good books are always sweetest when savored in community! And I want to close as well with a few lines from “appletree” that continue to affirm for me that freedom lives within each one of us. As Ewing writes:
even if your namesake was a woman
who broke the limb, who ate the rules,
you are emancipated already, child,
because it was your apple tree all along.
It was you, apple tree, all along.
poetry to spark a fire in your soul
PHOTOS BY AERAN SQUIRES
The incredible Alice Walker speaks to community-building and creativity in the heart of crisis in the potent “Taking the Arrow out of the Heart.”
Grace Paley was a radical activist, artist, and mother whose spare short stories and searing poetry will kindle a fire in your belly.