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How She Arrived and Where She Will Go: Black Girlhood in Eve Ewing’s Electric Arches

Fri, November 9, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Floor: Twelfth, Piedmont 1 (Twelfth)

Abstract

Eve Ewing’s Electric Arches is a poetic work that centers the experiences of a Black girl growing up in Chicago: a Chicago that existed, exists, and will continue to exist. As Ewing states in her note to readers, “some of the stories are from the past and some are from the future.” I read Ewing’s work as a poetic undertaking that reimagines Black girlhood and all its possibilities. Black girlhood, as a signifier, often connotes chaotic visual imageries in that they are often represented negatively and as a result Black girls do not live outside of stereotypes of hypersexualization and invisibility that plague Black women and are continuously interpellated by external systems of white domination. As such Black girls’ present lives are continuously defined through emergency and crisis. Ewing, rather than writing only about the moments and linage that shape Black girls in the present, also reimagines the conditions that animate Black girls’ lives and their futures. Electric Arches makes and breaks temporal understandings of Black girlhood by paying homage to Ewing’s own life, those who came before her, and those will come after; ultimately collapsing past, present and future. As Afro-futurism assures that the future will indeed be Black, led by Black women and girls, Electric Arches offers a glimpse into that future where Black girls’ subjectivity and voices are reclaimed, by no one other than themselves. If Afro-futurism is, as Deirdre Lynn Hollman claims, “Black survival” then Electric Arches offers one way to imagine the creative contours and political practice of Black girls surviving, and ultimately, thriving.

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