Skip to main content

Kinetic Orality in 1919

Lesley Jenike | Posted In Critical Essays in Ploughshare at Emerson College

While researching Chicago history for her book Ghosts in the Schoolyard, poet and sociologist of education Eve L. Ewing came across a 1922 document called The Negro in Chicago: A Study on Race Relations and a Race Riot. In her prose introduction to 1919—the 2019 collection of poems that emerged from her writing and research around that document—Ewing wonders, “How could someone claim to tell the story of Black people in this city? The whole story?” The “directness” (as Ewing calls it) and perceived “wholeness” of the story the document purports to tell strikes her as a negation. But empty space offers a chance at abundance. It offers room to move, to grow a physicality, and silence gives sound ricochet. So, Ewing fills her poems with bodies and voices since, as my daughter’s teacher tells her class, “We need our bodies and our voices to tell a complete story.” The interplay between rhythm and language becomes a means by which the marginalized speak. FOR MORE

art and education, BLACK LIVES, family history, poetry, racism, women writers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *