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Electric Arches by Eve Ewing

— Xandria Phillips

Cover features an illustration of a girl with star-dust for skin and plants surrounding her.
Haymarket Books  |  2017  |  94 pp

Welcome to the intersection of technology and (Black girl) magic. Eve’s book channels the futurism within daily struggles. What we can unlearn while reading Electric Arches is the notion that resistance is an agenda locked in the present. Eve illuminates the delicate continuum that we as Black people move through. ‘Arrival Day,’ exemplifies this perfectly by beginning with an epigraph in Assata Shakur’s words, Black revolutionaries do not drop from the moon. We are created by our conditions. This poem expands the absurdity of revolutionary moon people into a full-blown magical realism narrative.

so they had no words for the moon people when they did come.
and the moon people could not be captured. camera lenses
looking on them turned to salt and cast white trails across the
eyelids of the looker. and the moon people were dressed in
every color, they wore saffron yellow and Kool cigarette green and
Georgia clay red and they wore violet, they wore violet. and they
were loud, as their hands worked, hammering the iron of the
jail cell doors into lovely wrought curls and bicycle chains,
smashing the fare boxes at the train stations into wind chimes
and bowing low to the passengers as they entered—some sashaying
through the turnstile, some dipping it low as they went underneath,
they sang.

Eve’s language is biblical and absolute enough to reverse the course of history, or at least our approach to it. In this myth, I see survival as interstellar import; Blackness crowning from among the cosmos.

In ‘to Stacey, as you were’ Eve odes friendship. The vastness of Eve’s scope encapsulates such indiscriminate and complicated sweetnesses, that at times I feel as though I’m bending, not breaking, despite the bad, towards a tomorrow slick with ease.

you glow all funny, in the way something can be an unexpected beautiful,
like when someone leaves out a can of orange pop
and slowly, slowly emerges a wasp, soothing itself on sugar
reclining on aluminium in the sun as its legs dry.

There is an unmistakable gesture towards savor in Eve’s work. Even in writing about The Great Chicago Fire, there is time for relish. ‘fire kissed us and laughed,’ Eve writes in I come from the fire city. The people in Electric Arches are as sensitive as they are indestructible, armed with the knowlege of their forbearers and the disregard of their oppressors. ‘why you cannot touch my hair’ reclaims the imagination and autonomy Black girlhood deserves.

my hair is a technology from the future and will singe your fingertips, be careful.

I find Eve’s incantations stick to my tongue even as I enter a world built for whiteness and maleness. Electric Arches will arm and prepare you for the future(s) our ancestors could only dream of.


Haymarket Books