Cornelius Eady (born 1954) is an African-American poet who focuses largely on matters of race and society, particularly the trials of African-Americans in the United States.
Eady was born in 1954 in Rochester, New York. His first book of poetry, Kartunes, was published in 1980, with several others following it.
Eady has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, The Writer's Voice, The College of William and Mary, and Sweet Briar Collegeand served as associate professor of English and Director of the Poetry Center at State University of New York at Stony Brook and Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the City College of New York.
Eady has also collaborated with jazz composer Deidre Murray in the production of several works of musical theater, including You Don't Miss Your Water, Running Man, Fangs, and Brutal Imagination. In 1996, Eady and fellow poet Toi Derricotte founded Cave Canem Workshop, a nonprofit organization for black poets.
In many of Eady’s poems, there is a musical quality drawn from the blues and jazz. His poetry often centers around jazz and blues, family life, violence, and societal problems stemming from questions of race and class. His work is often praised for its simple and approachable language.
One of his most popular works, Brutal Imagination, comprises 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 "imaginary black man that Susan Smith blamed for kidnapping her two children when in fact she had strapped her babies into the back of their family car and pushed the car into John D. Long Lake and let them drown. It took nine days for the authorities— the FBI and the sheriff— to break her story and so the premise is that for those nine days, that man is alive and walking among us, and it's a big what if: What if he could talk? What if he had the ability to speak? What would he have told us?" 
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.
Eady's 2001 collection of poetry, Brutal Imagination, was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award in Poetry.
He is also the author of Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, which won the 1985 Lamont Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets; and The Gathering of My Name, a nominee for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.
Recently awarded honors include the Strousse Award from Prairie Schooner, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award, and individual Fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
- Kartunes. West Orange, NJ: Warthog Press, 1980.
- Victims of the Latest Dance Craze: Poems. Chicago: Ommation Press, 1985.
- Boom Boom Boom. Brockport, NY: State Street Press Chapbooks, 1988.
- The Gathering of My Name: Poems. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1991.
- You Don't Miss Your Water: Poems. New York: Holt, 1995.
- The Autobiography of a Jukebox: Poems. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1997.
- Brutal Imagination: Poems. New York: Putnam, 2001.
- Hardheaded Weather: New and selected poems. New York: Putnam, 2007.
- Asking for the Moon. Brooklyn, NY: Red Glass Books, 2013.
Audio / videoEdit
- Dreaming in Hi-fi: Songs. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1996.
- "I'm a Fool to Love You"
- Cornelius Eady profile & 2 poems at the Academy of American Poets.
- Cornelius Eady b. 1954 at the Poetry Foundation.
- Text of Selected Poems
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