Hatlen, Burton. "Renewing the Open Engagement: H. D. and Rachel Blau DuPlessis." In H.D. and Poets After, edited by Donna Krolik Hollenberg. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2000, pp. 130-162. Lazer, Hank. "'Travelling many direction'd crossings': The Poetry of Rachel Blau DuPlessis." In Opposing Poetries. Vol. 2, Readings. Evanston, Ill: Northwestern University Press, 1996, pp. 34-59.
Laurie McMillan c E D
EADY, CORNELIUS (1954- ) Cornelius
Eady's poetry offers a misleadingly casual, even jaunty chronicle of its times that can turn razor sharp in an instant. In poems spoken through many masks, in syncopated rhythms and colloquial sentences studded with striking figurative language, he conveys an exuberant engagement with the world, even when the experiences the world offers are painful ones. In this, he might aptly be called a blues poet—not because he often writes in blues form, as did Langston hughes, but because his poems are full of the mordant wit and occasional swagger that, along with grief and struggle, inform the spirit and knowledge of the blues. He shares with the black arts poets the conviction that in music especially we find a quintessentially black American culture expressed, but Eady, like Michael S. harper, presents his perceptions without the formal and verbal aggressiveness typical of that movement.
Eady was born and raised in Rochester, New York. He published the first of his six books of poems in 1980, and his second, Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, won the 1985 Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets. An active teacher throughout his career, Eady has taught at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and American University.
Eady's African-American identity is central to his work, as it is central to the jazz, blues, and Motown figures and titles that dominate his profuse musical references. "Gratitude" (1991) celebrates the "loose-seed-in-the-air glee . . . this rooster-pull-down-
morning glee" of his identity and vocation, his sense that, as a professional black American poet, he has beaten some tall odds. Nevertheless rage is present in his poems, too, not always disguised by the blues perspective. "Anger" (1997) responds bitterly to network coverage of the riots that followed the acquittal of the police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King. Brutal Imagination (2001) places Susan Smith's infamous accusation of an imaginary black man after murdering her own children in 1995 in the context of decades of demeaning or demonizing popular images of African-American men.
Eady sees the job of the poet as revelation and dis-covery—"I am a person / who can't keep a secret" ("Publicity Agent" )—and what he reveals is certainly not limited to African-American concerns. His poems articulate discoveries that all readers can recognize, particularly about the complexities of family life. With a gift for scene and a novelist's interest in contexts and concepts developed gradually and deliberately, Eady creates poems and sequences of poems that tell their secrets less by confession than by dramatization.
Eady's poems are most notable for their energy and flexibility of voice, for their democratic respect toward subjects and readers alike, and for their outward-looking perspective that links private with public concerns.
Was this article helpful?