Despite being a voracious reader, I admit I don’t often read poetry. This is partially due to feelings of slight intimidation. I have often found myself utterly befuddled attempting to read poetry, certain the meanings behind the poems have gone over my head. So I was worried I wouldn’t be able to enjoy sociologist and writer Eve L. Ewing’s acclaimed collection of poetry “Electric Arches.” I am happy to state my minor worries were all for naught because I found the volume enjoyable and easy to read. “Electric Arches” truly has a poem for everyone. Most of the works read like prose and seem to be reflections and retellings of Ewing’s life from girlhood to womanhood. I found many of the poems relatable; I expect that other Black women could relate the realities that Ewing conveys elegantly and seamlessly with her poetry.
One of my favorite poems that race is “the first time [a re-telling].” In this poem, the writer describes her first time experiencing racism as a young Black girl. I saw a piece of my childhood reflected in the poem, as I reflected on the first time a non-Black person called me ‘nigger.’ There are also other, more light-hearted poems many Black women and girls could identify with. For example, another one of my favorites in the collection is “Ode to Luster’s Pink Oil.” I laughed out loud after finishing that one. Ewing’s poetry shows that Black girlhood, while sometimes difficult and complicated, can still be joyful, heartwarming and beautiful.
“Electric Arches” reminds readers that their seemingly mundane, day-to-day moments can be just as amazing and important as the extraordinary ones. The collections also demonstrate to readers, particularly Black women readers living in the U.S., that many of our experiences are not as isolated as we sometimes might think. Life can be a bit lonely if you truly think there are not people in the world whose circumstances and experiences to which you can fully relate. “Electric Arches” shows us that many of us have more in common than we think. I recommend this book for poetry veterans as well as for those readers who are looking to start reading more poetry but are not sure where to start.