1919

1919

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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Title:1919
Author:Eve L. Ewing
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Edition Language:English

1919 Reviews

  • Ai Miller

    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

    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 teach students more about the riots.

  • Beverly

    thoughts coming shortly

  • Leah Rachel von Essen

    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

    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 a Race Riot, that tried to capture the state of black people in Chicago at the time.

    In Ewing’s poems, the city itself comes alive. The trains sing of the Great Migration; the streetcar mourns in the midst of the riots. In “True Stories About the Great Fire,” the Fire itself speaks: the report says that some called the “Negro invasion of the district” a worse disaster than the Fire; in Ewing’s poem, the Fire refuses to leave a city that wanted them. In the midst of all of this, domestic workers struggle and a former schoolteacher mourns his invisibility.

    Ewing captures the horror, desperation, and fear that haunted the week of the riots and its roots in structural racism. Eugene drowns: “Jump / Rope” tells us this in the format of children’s jump-rope rhymes, emphasizing his youth, emphasizing the normalcy of a black boy dying at white hands while chilling you to the bone with its combo of nostalgia and horror. Ewing titles one excerpt about black men being stalked and hunted through the Loop: “there is no poem for this.” Ewing writes of Daley and his involvement in the Hamburg Athletic Club, among the instigators of the rioting. “sightseers” decimates the residents of Chicago who are complicit, who enjoy the city without ever engaging its current or past horrors. I read it five times and all five it left me in tears.

    The collection does not end in the past—after all, neither do the reverberations, nor the story of Chicago’s racism. An erasure/blackout poem created out of the email Ewing’s apartment building sent her the day of the Jason Van Dyke trial, warning residents of how to stay safe in case of violence. Ewing’s book continues on into the future. In one poem, children turn towards a voice that has told them it’s almost time; the adults can only follow. Ewing ends the collection with a poem I’ve been lucky enough to see her read: “I saw Emmett Till this week at the grocery store,” a quiet wish for a different present, a parallel past, where Emmett Till carefully handles plums, saying, “it goes, it goes,” a quiet push towards a continuing present that Till never got to experience.

    1919 is a brilliant book both of history and poetry. It tells of a moment in Chicago’s history that its residents don’t learn enough about, and it tells it through chilling, impactful, and gorgeous verse. Ewing’s newest is (naturally) a must-read.

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 1919 comes out June 4 from Haymarket Books.

  • Mariel

    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

    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 Chicago look different in today's light and a book that forces tears from you on every page. It is brutal and beautiful and difficult, and it's something every Chicagoan, and really every American should read.

  • Allison Nettnin

    Haunting.

    Restrained.

    Powerful.

  • Kristin Runyon

    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.

  • Cathleen

    "A precision that is both beautiful and deeply uncomfortable..."

    The above originated in an NPR review of

    , but the sentiment perfectly encapsulates the experience of

    .

    The creative vision that sparked this work is alone worthy of exclamation: craft verse in conversation with passages from a 1922 report (

    ) to shine a light on a criminally unknown event and what resonance it still holds today. The forms of poetry vary

    "A precision that is both beautiful and deeply uncomfortable..."

    The above originated in an NPR review of

    , but the sentiment perfectly encapsulates the experience of

    .

    The creative vision that sparked this work is alone worthy of exclamation: craft verse in conversation with passages from a 1922 report (

    ) to shine a light on a criminally unknown event and what resonance it still holds today. The forms of poetry vary, but one element held in common is the illumination of truth, as well as what the reader/listener might do with this newfound understanding.

    The structure is eminently accessible; concise entries and overall brevity might entice casual curiosity. However, once phrases are taken in, the impact is inescapable. I might cite specific poems that moved me to break away for contemplation (the candidates would be many), but if I were to cite only one it would have to be "there is no poem for this" wherein the poet simply quotes a particularly heinous encounter and allows it sit with no additional comment. That restraint speaks volumes.

    When a heavily redacted memo pleading for tempered response, one that is revealed to have been received in anticipation of verdict for a racially charged trial in late 2018, is juxtaposed with the events of the Red Summer race riots, the option of looking away is untenable.

    This is an elegant, powerful work that is destined to prompt both conversation and, one can only hope, change.

  • Seph Mozes

    if you read one book this year it should be this book

  • 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.

  • 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

    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 in nongenre poetry (that seems to cut across different marginalizations), which sometimes frustrates me, and this book was *not* like that.

    Source of the book: Lawrence Public Library

    Also on Bogi Reads the World:

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