Synopses & Reviews
The two sections that make up this work (each could be called a song cycle) confront the same subject: the black man in America. But this is no simplistic political screed. Early's art is too sophisticated for that, combining as it does the subtle with the charged, street idiom with elegant inversions, harsh images with witty asides. As The Kenyon Review wrote of an earlier volume: It's no easy thing for an African-American poet to find language that breaks through sociological and political configurations to sting us directly and a fresh with his experience". Eady does so with each new work.
The first cycle, which carries the book's title, deals with the vision of the black man in white imagination. Largely narrated by black kidnapper, a figment of Susan Smith's imagination invented to cover up her killing of her sons (a bridging section of poems is wittily told in the voices of such white creations as Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima), the cycle displays all of Eady's range: his inventiveness, his deft and often subversive wit, and his skillfully targeted anger. One laughs and winces at the same time. Though these poems are spoken by a black man who is in fact invention, Eady contrives to make him as well as a black commenting on his white-invented self. The result is a stunning appraisal of race in America. The second cycle, "Running Man", presents the poems Eady drew on for his libretto for the music-drama of the same name. here, the focus in the black family and the barriers of class, and caste that tear it apart. The title character represents every dreaming black boy who ever crashed into the harsh realties of the whole as he reached manhood. As the Village voice wrote",Running Man isa hymn to all sons this country has stolen from her African-American families".
"Eady's joy in language engenders our trust in the music that his art has made of love and pain."
"Eady fuses headlines and history with language that is a field holler, a blues shout, a hip hop rap that combusts inside the soul and keep on burning."
--Bebe Moore Campbell
is the work of a poet at the peak of his considerable powers. Its two central sections--which could be called song cycles--confront the same subject: the black man in America.
The first, which carries the book's title, deals with the vision of the black man in white imagination. Narrated largely by the black kidnapper that Susan Smith invented to cover up the killing of her two sons, the cycle displays all of Mr. Eady's range: his deft wit, inventiveness, and skillfully targeted anger, and the way in which he combines the subtle with the charged, street idiom with elegant inversions, harsh images with the sweetly ordinary.
The second cycle, "Running Man," presents poems Mr. Eady drew on for his libretto for the music-drama of the same name, which was a l999 Pulitzer Prize finalist. Here, the focus is the black family and the barriers of color, class, and caste that tear it apart. As the Village Voice said, "It is a hymn to all the sons this country has stolen from her African- American families."
About the Author
Formerly director of the Poetry Center at SUNY/Stony Brook, Cornelius Eady is currently distinguished writer-in-residence at the City College of New York. He has been awarded the Academy of American Poets Lamont Prize, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to Bellagio, Italy, and fellowships from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Brutal Imagination was nominated for the 2001 National Book Award for Poetry. The author of six previous volumes, he lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Brutal Imagination Brutal Imagination
How I Got Born
Who Am I?
Susan Smith's Police Report
Where Am I?
Why I Am Not A Woman
One True Thing
Charles Stuart in the Hospital
Uncle Tom in Heaven
Uncle Ben Watches the Local News
Stepin Fetchit Reads the Paper
The Unsigned Confessions of Mr. Zero
What I'm Made Of
What the Sheriff Suspects
Next of Kin
What Is Known About the Abductor
What Isn't Known About the Abductor
The Running Man Poems:
When He Left
Hold the Line
Miss Look's Dream
Baby Sister and the Radio
My Sister Makes Me Up While I Sleep
What I Do