My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“I think that maybe if we can guard ourselves and each other, if we can keep from losing our minds alone in quiet rooms and can at least lose them side by side, we may live through the year.” (fr Thursday Morning, Newbury Street)
This is a stunning book of poetry and pose by sociologist Eve Ewing. It is a contemporary American powerhouse illustrating the streets of Chicago from the perspective of a black girl and woman. It’s an homage to Erykah Bakdu and Prince and Koko Taylor. As she writes in her introduction, “Every story in it is absolutely true. Some of the stories are from the past and some are from the future. In the future, every child in Chicago has food and a safe place to sleep, and mothers laugh all day and eat Popsicles.”
Ewing expertly combines gritty realism with supernatural fantasy. I feel her power as a prose and poet were most evident in the “re-tellings”, where she would share a true story of overt racism and discrimination, and then add an alternate, supernatural ending. In four boys on Ellis, for example, the author describes four (very) young boys who were being questioned by the police with no adult or advocate present. The officers yell at the author to leave; in the alternate ending, she sits in her car willing the boys were safe at home, and magically they begin to fly.
The book ends with an affirmation to youth living in prison, and is truly unforgettable.
“I believe the sun shines,
if not here, then somewhere.
Somewhere it rains,
and things will grow green and wonderful.”