Brutal Imagination

Brutal Imagination

by Cornelius Eady


View All Available Formats & Editions
Usually ships within 6 days


Finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry

Brutal Imagination is the work of a poet at the peak of his considerable powers, confronting a crucial subject: the black man in America.

“A hymn to all the sons this country has stolen from her African-American families.”—The Village Voice

This poetry collection explores the vision of the black man in white imagination, as well as the black family and the barriers of color, class, and caste that tear it apart. These two main themes showcase Cornelius 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.

Includes poems that inspired the libretto for Eady’s music-drama Running Man, a 1999 Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399147203
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/28/2001
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 586,704
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

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.

Read an Excerpt

Uncle Tom in Heaven

My name is mud; let's get that out
Of the way first. I am not a child.
I was made to believe that God
Kept notes, ran a tab on the blows,
So many on one cheek, so many on
The other.

I watch another black man pour from a
White woman's head. I fear
He'll live the way I did, a brute,
A flimsy ghost of an idea. Both
Of us groomed to go only so far.

That was my duty. I'm well aware
Of what I've become; a name
Children use to separate themselves
On a playground. It doesn't matter
To know I'm someone else's lie,

Anything human can slip, and that's enough
To make grown men worry about
Their accent, where their ambition might
Stray. It doesn't help anything to tell you
I was built to be a hammer,
A war cry. Like him, nobody knew me,

But in my prime, I filled the streets, worried
Into the eardrum, scared up thoughts
Of laws and guns. How I would love
Not to be dubious,

But I am a question whole races spend
Their time trying to answer. My author
Believed in God, and being denied the
Power to hate her,

I watch another black man roam the land,
Dull in his invented hide.

Copyright © 2001 by Cornelius Eady.

Table of Contents

Brutal ImaginationBrutal Imagination

How I Got Born
My Heart
Who Am I?
My Face
Susan Smith's Police Report
Where Am I?
The Lake
The Law
Why I Am Not A Woman
One True Thing
Charles Stuart in the Hospital

Uncle Tom in Heaven
Uncle Ben Watches the Local News
Jemima's Do-Rag
Buckwheat's Lament
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
My Eyes
What Isn't Known About the Abductor
Press Conference


The Running Man Poems:
When He Left
Hold the Line
The Train
Miss Look's Dream
Baby Sister & the Radio
My Sister Makes Me Up While I Sleep
First Crimes
What I Do
What Happened
Running Man

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Brutal Imagination 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He might get asked by smeie else so do it real son
Guest More than 1 year ago
Outstanding! February 4, 2003 This collection is made up of two cycles of poems, both dealing with the black man in white America. The first is a cycle of poems narrated by the Imaginary black man Susan Smith invented to cover the killing of her two children. This collection is deep! It's so moving and so vivid it leaves you angry and pulls the heart strings.Eady paints such a picture you can see the tail lights slowly slipping into the water. The second cycle is about a black family and the barriers of color. I had the pleasure of listening to Eady read from this collection as well as his work in progress. He is very moving. And like he said' The best thing about this is....there is no black man on death row right now for murder because of the imaginary black man she created'. This is more than a collection of poetry. Brutal Imagination is the brilliant, stunning creation from one gifted writer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cornelius Eady's latest collection of poems, Brutal Imagination is quite the fascinating depiction of 'black and white' mentality blended together effortlessly on the strength of Susan Smith's murdering of her children, to later blame her 'brutal' action on a black man. A black man summoned from the depths of her 'imagination.' Not only does Mr. Eady show us the constant paranoia a black man envisions on the streets of America, but also the incredible lack of respect many whites have for blacks when faced with immeasurable odds. And this is only the first half of the book. This compilation is one for the ages and must not go unread unless you're the one with a 'brutal imagination.'