Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems

Cornelius Eady, Author Marian Wood Book $25.95 (204p) ISBN 978-0-399-15485-0
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.
Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
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