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1919

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4.55  ·  Rating details ·  1,011 ratings  ·  158 reviews
Poetic reflections on race, class, violence, segregation, and the hidden histories that shape our divided urban landscapes.

The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, the most intense of the riots that comprised the “Red Summer” of violence across the nation’s cities, is an event that has shaped the last century but is widely unknown. In 1919, award-winning poet Eve L. Ewing explores t
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Paperback, 76 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Haymarket Books
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David Schaafsma
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chicago, history, race
“If there was racial harmony and equality in the year 2019, maybe we wouldn’t need to talk about the race riots of 1919”—Peter Cole

City in a Garden
(after Carl Sandburg)

The Negro crowd from Twenty-ninth Street got into action, and white men who came in contact with it were beaten. . . Farther to the west, as darkness came on, white gangsters became active. Negroes in white districts suffered severely at their hands. From 9:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m. twenty-seven Negroes were beaten, seven were stabb
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Bogi Takács
A poem cycle about the Chicago race riots of 1919. An absolute standout, a tapestry of poetry, nonfiction, even with the occasional speculative element. A very strong second collection after a very strong first collection (Electric Arches); I also just got her academic nonfiction book on racism in Chicago schools from the library and looking forward to reading that too. And I need to get her comic book writing.

I feel like there is a very characteristic style of how to write about marginalization
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Allison
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I absolutely love poetry collections that deeply focus around one historical event or close theme, and this book is no different. Eve L. Ewing explores the Chicago race riot of 1919 through poetry, with poems tracing the lead-up, the riot, and it's effects. With quotes from the 1922 study "The Negro in Chicago: A Study on Race Relations and a Race Riot" at the start of each poem and gorgeous photos of Black Chicagoans interspersed throughout the collection, 1919 reads like a history book in the ...more
Allison Nettnin
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, poetry
Haunting.
Restrained.
Powerful.
Carol Tilley
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: violence, history, race, poetry
Extraordinary.
Em
I've been waiting to read this since I first heard of it last year or earlier this year. My first read of it, today, is the 100 year anniversary of Eugene William's death and the start of the worst riots of the 1919 "Red Summer."

The excerpts, while quaintly written, are not unfamiliar to what you might read today in any media. The poems are beautiful. Highly recommended.
2TReads
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
'to all those who speak of rivers; to all those who made safe passage and to all those lost in the waters'.

Eve L. Ewing through her poems in 1919, seeks to incite a passion in us to talk about the race riots in Chicago, July 1919.

These poems chronicle the hardships, sacrifices, endurance, perseverance, trauma, legacies, and hope of all who came before and laboured for a better tomorrow.

Through her research and newspaper articles from around that time, she paints a clear picture of their Exodus f
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Mariel
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, poetry, grief, damn
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of seeing Eve Ewing read from this collection at a bookstore in Chicago. The first poem she read was called "Jump/Rope," and when the poem ended, you could practically feel the air collectively whoosh out of every body in the room. The rest of the collection is just as visceral, from the first to the last moment (my favorite of all, "I saw Emmett Till this week at the grocery store"). This book is both a piece of art and a history lesson, a book that makes Ch ...more
Cathleen
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, ra-challenge
"A precision that is both beautiful and deeply uncomfortable..."

The above originated in an NPR review of Electric Arches, but the sentiment perfectly encapsulates the experience of 1919.

The creative vision that sparked this work is alone worthy of exclamation: craft verse in conversation with passages from a 1922 report (The Negro in Chicago: A Study on Race Relations and a Race Riot) to shine a light on a criminally unknown event and what resonance it still holds today. The forms of poetry vary
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Carla Sofia Sofia
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reimagining, recreating historical documents into worthy poems is incredibly hard and I've rarely read any as brilliant as those by Ewing in this latest collection. Also, listening to her read these on audiobook was wonderful, a master class on how to read poetry.
Simone
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-read
"no, it goes like

Little Eugene W
So sorry to trouble you
Rise, Eugene, rise!
Calm your mama's cries!
Just sit up and look around,
Don't let em bury you down


I first heard Eve Ewing talk about this poetry collection on Fresh Air, and was inspired to read them. I ended up listening to the audiobook to help me fulfill a read harder challenge item, and I'm glad I listened to them.

Read for Book Riot's 2020 Read Harder challenge item: Read an audiobook of poetry.
Beverly
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, poetry, newtome2019
thoughts coming shortly
Amorak Huey
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Wow, dang, this book is amazing. I knew before I was halfway finished that I'd be teaching this book next semester and probably for many many semesters to come.
Leah Rachel von Essen
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In 1919, my most anticipated book of the year, Ewing paints a history in verse of the city before, during, and after the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, sparked when a black boy at 31st Street Beach drifted over the invisible lines of segregation and was stoned and drowned. When the police officer wouldn’t arrest the white man judged responsible, riots unspooled across the South Side. Ewing’s poems are each inspired by an excerpt from a 1922 report The Negro in Chicago: A Study on Race Relations and ...more
Taylor Givens
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whew. I shouldn't have devoured this one hour audiobook in the middle of the work day. It is breathtaking. Truly. It is timely and important and beautiful and it broke my heart. I feel heavier now that i've read it--more firmly grounded in the truths of my people.

There are two poems in particular that stood out to me (read: made me cry)-- jump/rope and sightseers.
Jasmine
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This collection was so incredibly powerful. If I could write out every single poem that I loved, I would but, alas, I'm not here to get a copyright strike. But, I'll share a snippet:

you don't have enough boats

we came here head to toe
and now we are millions
and now we demand to sit upright

and so you don't have enough boats


It's hard for me to put into words the emotions that Ewing evokes with her own lyricism. Each poem, each section, is carefully crafted to really make you think and to
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Dominic
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Well dang, about halfway through these poems I became entranced. "sightseers" and "this is a map" were my favourite poems, but I also really like "I saw Emmett Till this week at the grocery store."

This is such a creative way to capture history and its impact on the present. Since I have familial roots in Chicago, IL, I was drawn in even more into this story of early Chicago race riots, but this collection/project has just as much to say about our country in 2020 than Chicago 1919 or Chicago 2019
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Janet
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's astounding how beautiful poetry came from a not often talked about 1919 race riot. The Great Migration brought about 50,000 African Americans from the south to Chicago. In the summer of 1919, called the red summer, 38 people died and over 500 were injured. It started on July 27 when a "black" boy inadvertently swam into the "white" section of the beach, and the boys there threw rocks at him. Whether a rock hit him or he grew tired and couldn't get to shore the result was he drowned. His par ...more
Dani Neuharth-Keusch
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Eve Ewing is the first poet I really wholeheartedly loved and I recommend Electric Arches to anyone who will listen, yet somehow I missed this book when it came out. But I’m glad I encountered it right now, in this moment, amid a new overdue reckoning with anti-black violence more than 100 years after the historic summer with which this book converses. It reads like an epigraph to an imagined future history, equal parts hope and despair and rage and love.
Megan Bell
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Whether it’s through the voice of a train in the midst of the Great Migration, a haunting trio of jump rope rhymes, a glimpse of a carless future, or a black-out poem of an email from her apartment management after the 2018 Jason Van Dyke verdict, Ewing creates entry points of engaging with the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 in places you would never think to look. A must read for anyone contemplating how to reckon with the past as an American today.
Lydia
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it

Powerful, both a beginning and an end, and a critical examination of our past, this collection is a vivid reimagining. Apparently there are images and photographs in the book, so I’ll have to get my hands on a copy to experience those as well. I can see how it would turn people off — it has its points where it feels very experimental, but I loved it. 4 stars!

Nora Schultz
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, poetry
"I just didn’t know how else to say

that we live in a time of sightseers

standing on the bridge of history

watching the water go by

and there are bodies in the water

and the water has been dirty for so long

and the sightseers still drink from it"


feels particularly relevant in the here & now, the here being a 20 minute drive from where jacob blake was shot 7 times in the back and the now being a twin global pandemic 100 years after the last one(s)
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Jolean
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Poignant. Finished in one sitting, but a few of these will give you pause and you’ll need a moment (Sightseers, It Wouldn’t Take Much) and others goosebumps (I Saw Emmitt Till, *The Day of the Undoing). Remarkable work.
Karam (bookishskippy)
5 stars for this book as it deeply focus in the historical moments during that time. There were so much of race riots which I manage to highlight in the book and hope

Hope this books really sells and it should be told to the world how heart warming this stories were.

I was very emotional.
Molly Klodor
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I knew that there were riots in Chicago in the teens and twenties, but I didn’t know anything else. This collection, using reports from the riot as a springboard for her poetry, is beautifully crafted and excellently written. I can’t wait to share these poems with my class.
Warren Wagner
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i don't really know anything about poetry! but i do occasionally like reading poems so i thought this would be a good starting book and indeed it was. eve ewing is great at using sort of magical imagery to give historical events the emotional force that they deserve. short beautiful book
Zora Satchell
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
inspired me to dive deeper into my local history. Eve L. Ewing's work pushes me to find my discipline and strengthen my writing voice.
Kristin Runyon
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
What an incredible collection of poems inspired by a primary source, and all of them accessible. I think it’s important for Eve L. Ewing’s message to reach as many people possible, as necessary. I’ll be writing a much longer review more specifically for teachers that will be posted on the #TeachLivingPoets website.
Ai Miller
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, black-authors
Just incredible. The pairing of each poem with the epigraphs is just incredible, and each poem is like a snippet of being in the past. "Jump/Rope" is just incredible, probably my "favorite" poem of the collection--it's cutting, like a punch in the chest repeatedly, but also tender. Each poem is really like that though, drawing together this vivid picture of Chicago and Black Chicago in particular before, during, and after the race riots. Strongly recommend, and honestly definitely usable to teac ...more
Jerelyn
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Audio books of poetry is my new quarantine hack. This one is great.
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Dr. Eve Louise Ewing is a writer and a sociologist of education from Chicago. Ewing is a prolific writer across multiple genres. Her 2018 book Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism & School Closings on Chicago's South Side explores the relationship between the closing of public schools and the structural history of race and racism in Chicago's Bronzeville community.

Ewing's first collection of poetry, e
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