Cornelius Eady
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Cornelius Eady

Past Event: Monday, February 25, 2002

Cornelius Eady was born in 1954 in Rochester, New York. He has published seven volumes of poetry. In most of Eady’s poems there is a musical quality drawn from the Blues and Jazz. Indeed, many of his poem titles allude to traditional African-American hymns and modern musicians such as Thelonius Monk and Miles Davis. In his 1991 book You Don’t Miss Your Water, Eady addresses the death of his father through a style traditional of the Blues, call and response.

Eady’s book Brutal Imagination (2001) is comprised of two cycles of poems, each confronting the same subject: the black man in white America. The first cycle, which carries the book’s title, is narrated largely by the black kidnapper invented by Susan Smith to cover up the killing of her two small sons. The second cycle, “Running Man,” focuses on the African-American family and the barriers of color and class. The title character represents every African-American male who has crashed into these barriers. These two cycles of poems taken together offer a stark reappraisal of race in America.

Eady had received fellowships from the Guggenheim foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Foundation. Formerly Associate Professor of English and Director of the Poetry Center at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Eady is currently visiting professor in creative writing at the City College of New York. With poet Toi Derricotte, he cofounded Cave Canem, which offers workshops and retreats for African-American poets. He has also collaborated with composer Diedre Murray on two highly-acclaimed music dramas, You Don’t Miss Your Water and Running Man. Recently, Brutal Imagination was also produced as a music-drama. Eady lives in New York City. In 1985 he won the Lamont Prize for Poetry and last year he was nominated for the National Book Award.

Selected WorkBrutal Imagination (2001)The Autobiography of a Jukebox (1997)You Don’t Miss Your Water (1995)The Gathering of My Name (1991)Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (1985)

LinksBiography on the Academy of American Poets’ Web Site