electric arches

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Electric Arches by Eve L. Ewing

This remarkable debut begins with the clearest reminders of what African Americans have endured, then takes a running leap into rapturous possibility—not as mere escape, but rather as a way of summoning up the miraculous web of hope, knowledge, love, and belief that has sustained black life in this country through unforgiving centuries. While reading, I found myself continually thinking, I had no idea you could make poetry do that, followed by, Thank God she has done this. One of several standouts is "The Device," a long narrative poem about a work of technology built by black computer geeks, poets, and historians that crosses barriers of time and consciousness to tap into ancestral wisdom. But the briefer pieces here are just as revelatory, like these words from "True Stories about Koko Taylor": "Koko Taylor wrote songs with a blue ink pen. / Koko Taylor wrote rivers with a blue ink pen. / Koko Taylor wrote the Illinois Central Rail line with a blue ink pen. / Just got right on her knees and scratched it into the ground."