From Cornelius Eady, one of America's most engaging voices, comes an exciting collection of poetry that at once delineates the arc of the poet's universe and highlights the range of his considerable talents.
Cornelius Eady’s poems show him in full control of his considerable talents and displaying a rich maturity as he enters midlife. His poems are sly, unsentimental, and witty, full of truths that are intimate and profound.
Hardheaded Weather ranges widely, reflecting the new found responsibilities Eady has assumed as he transitions from urban renter to nonplussed rural homeowner, as well as the sobering influence of war and the intimation of his own mortality. Yet even at his angriest, the poet has always had a depth of compassion rare in our polarized age, with a sense of humor that is both sophisticated and demotic. These poems will resonate deeply.
As exciting as the new poems are, his selected earlier poems dazzle, too, as they demonstrate the arc of Cornelius Eady’s maturation and the originality of his voice. Taken together, Hardheaded Weather forms a moving—and sometimes searing—testament to the power of poetry.
This first career-spanning selection confirms Eady as a likable, if self-conscious, poet of uncommon variety, with a gift for the spoken vernacular. Since his 1980 debut, Eady has evoked the dilemmas of poetic vocation and the harsher dilemmas of race and poverty: "No rules, except for/ What's always been:/ Do what you gotta do." His short, jagged lines take up the legacy of the Black Arts poets, though his sensibility is less violent, his humor quieter, his sense of his social position more ironic: one mid-career poem even bears the title "Why Do So Few Blacks Study Creative Writing?" By the 1990s Eady could set his sense of responsibility to African-American history against his joy in music and in his own art. His best book, You Don't Miss Your Water (1995), gathered clear, forceful prose poems that reacted to his father's death. Brutal Imagination (2001) adopted the voice of the nonexistent black kidnapper made up by the homicidal mother Susan Smith to explain her children's disappearance. New poems of marital love and domesticity, though not Eady's most original, come as needed leavening. This is a fine introduction to Eady's worthy oeuvre.