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Eve Ewing: Chicago's Poetry Queen

Eve Ewing’s, @eveewing on Twitter, (trust me, she is worth the follow) lists of titles runs long. She is a poet, an essayist, a comic book writer, sociologist and professor from Chicago, Illinois. Her poems, non-fiction and essays focus on race, gender and social justice. Her poetry has been published in many journals including, The Rumpus, Adroit Journal and Tin House, while her essays and interviews can be found in outlets such as The Atlantic, Medium and the New York Times, while her comics are published by Marvel, where she is best known for “Ironheart”, which is about Riri Williams taking over the role of Ironman from Tony Stark.

Currently, Ewing has two books of poetry out. There is 2017’s “Electric Arches”, a collection I implore everyone to read, whether you are into poetry or not. It is a seminal work in the literary canon and a one that NPR called one of the best books of 2017. In 2019, Ewing released her second collection of poetry, “1919”, which is a collection of poems ruminating on the aftermath of the 1919 Chicago race riots. In 1922 the government released a report titled “The Negro in Chicago: A Study on Race Relations and a Race Riot” to analyze the causes of the 1919 riot. The concept of Ewing’s “1919” is that each poem, is in a way, a rebuttal to many of the claims that the government report made. 

But, perhaps her most famous work to non-poetry-readers is “Ghost in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side”. In 2013, then Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a wave of unprecedented—for a city the size of Chicago—school closure as a way to address budget issues. In her book, Ewing argues that this decision did not take place in a vacuum and that the closing could be attributed to a system of systematic racism. The schools closed were in majority minority neighborhoods, which were already affected by a lack of public housing and other necessities. In part, the city government chose to close these schools in the Chicago Public school system because of under enrolment. However, this under enrolment was caused by the same government’s destruction of public housing in the area.

As an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and former teacher and student of the Chicago Public School System, it is no wonder that Ewing has such a passionate voice for what goes on in her hometown’s school system. Eve Ewing is truly an important voice for social justice in this generation. 


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