Review: Electric Arches by Eve L. Ewing
I Don’t Know Squat About Black Women…and Other Things Eve Ewing Brought To My Attention
So be honest, Black man. I mean really and truly honest. Do you think you know Black women? I mean do you think you know enough about their passions, their goals, how they feel about Black men? How they feel when they are approached by Black men? How they feel when they get THE perfect hair care product? If you were interviewed, do you think you can give a fair assessment of the psyche of the Black woman? Yeah? So how much? Like 10%? 20%? 95%?!?
If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, you sir are delusional!
Yup, you sir have been hoodwinked! Led astray! Run a foul! You didn’t land in Pelican Bay, Pelican Bay landed on you! You don’t know Black women any more than you know the Chairman of Shea Moisture! (Wait, am I mixing my Denzel lines?)
The truth is that the Black woman is a regal, undefinable spirit that can neither be categorized in our mundane check boxes nor can she ever be boxed in. She is to be cherished and honored, appreciated and respected, especially for her unique qualities and she is not a destination for limits and stereotypes. She is the foundational element for our existence and can never be destroyed. She is like a rolling stream of pure water. You can try to destroy her with pressure and unimaginable circumstance but even then she evaporates into a new form and refreshes those around her even more.
Eve Louise Ewing is a Black woman.
Eve Ewing impressed me personally even before I had a chance to read Electric Arches. Black Men Read selected the collection of poems as the January Book of the Month a few months prior and I thought it wise to learn a little about the author beforehand. I followed her on social media outlets (Twitter: eveewing and Instagram: eve.ewing) as well as read some of her work in the educational arena, all to get a glimpse into the person behind the pages. What I learned was my mental check sheet with general categorizations about people, specifically Black women, wasn’t going to work.
Is she an EDUCATOR? Yes but she is not the classical “Read my 4,738 page dissertation on the flavor of water on Mars in 19th century astronomy”. Her classroom is between the pages of life and struggle, joy and pain.
Is she a WRITER? Yes, kinda. I found her work and style to be more experiential literature than static text. The reader of her work (and even her tweets) is pulled in to an adventure filled with a rollercoaster of emotions, jumping from scene to scene.
Is she SMART? Absolutely but you won’t feel it. Her intelligence is not a punishment to observers or readers. Instead it’s a weapon against inequality and despair. The community and educational system is her coliseum against those who feed off of the vulnerable and the stretched.
The book Electric Arches IS Eve Ewing (or is it Wikipedia Brown?). On its pages you take small trips through her life, her imagination, her community and her heart. You can’t read the book without connecting with her and despite not having the exact experience she may have had, you can understand and feel what she felt. That is what makes this book intellectually and spiritually human.
My Review of “Electric arches”
Electric Arches is a wonderful collection of poetry on various subjects. The reader is navigated through everything from comedic lines like an ode to hair care products to emotionally sensitive topics like mental health and all points in between. The reader is left with a burst of personal reflection and analysis most often left to personal conversations. As most of the poems are inherently personal on some level Eve Ewing gave us a delicate gift of her bare soul in this book.
Ewing’s separation of her poems in the book were a little curious to me at the beginning. Then as I read through the works I could see how she sandwiched her sometimes painful experiences with the more whimsical. I ultimately couldn’t think of another way to organize the pieces. Life is not linear nor is it only on one end of the energy spectrum all the time. But if my life ever leans heavily to the negativity end of the spectrum for a period I hope I have the inner creativity to emotionally fly away the way Eve seemed to do when faced with difficult circumstances.
I appreciated the author not straying away from “silly topics” (“Shea Butter Manifesto”) or people on her heart like Terrance Hayes (“sonnet”) or musical artists like Prince and Erykah Badu. Ewing also gave you a peek into her vulnerable side speaking on pains and her pilgrimage addressing her mental health. Ewing let you inside her psyche, her happiness, her pain without every poem coming off doctoral. Combine her ability to switch subjects and reflect the human soul I declare EWING IS THE PEOPLE’S POET!
My Recommendation: I cherished my time reading and re-reading this book and I think you will too. I highly recommend this book for poetry lovers and non poetry lovers alike. It’s an enjoyable and delightful read.