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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. 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 Pulitzer Prize finalist. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 15th by G.
Putnam's Sons first published More Details Original Title. National Book Award Finalist for Poetry Other Editions 5. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about Brutal Imagination , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Brutal Imagination. Nov 14, Amy rated it really liked it Shelves: books-read , poetry , race. I found this book on my office bookshelf and read it while waiting for my computer to update, so I didn't know anything about it going in.
Although this was written in , I had to access my pop news brain file for a proper reading. The book has 2 very distinct sections which highlight the voices of 2 separate black men that the author creates through his "brutal imagination".
Both stories are written in verse. The first story is written with the voice of the eventually-found-to-be-fictit I found this book on my office bookshelf and read it while waiting for my computer to update, so I didn't know anything about it going in. The first story is written with the voice of the eventually-found-to-be-fictitious black man accused of carjacking and kidnapping Susan Smith's children in If you recall the outcome, 9 days after reporting the children taken, she admitted to drowning them in her car.
But for those 9 days, this black man existed in the minds of news watchers, and he has been given a voice: A few nights ago A man swears he saw me pump gas With the children At a convenience store Like a punchline you get the next day There's a small interlude section where the writer laments with various fictitious black characters who were also brought to life without their consent: Uncle Tom, Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima, Buckwheat, Stepin Fetchit.
Of Uncle Ben he says, "Like him I live, but never agreed to it. The second story in the book became part of the text to a "roots" jazz opera called The Running Man which seems to be about an intelligent, well-read black man who chooses a life of crime because it chooses him. Nothing can run when you've broken its legs. Nothing can fly when you trim its feathers With a knife, a stone I can read the white Man's voodoo, Powerful spells Which have eaten The world, And prevented Anything good from sticking here, I am young And they hope I will hone my studies Into a terrible blade.
I think this is the message of the stories--that white men and women have created and believed a narrative of what a black man is, creating this in both fiction and reality through their words and actions.
Break something enough times and it stays broken. I wanted this book to end with a solution. But it doesn't. The author says of the "running man" of the 2nd narrative, "what pushes him up will keep him down.
Perhaps we're progressing as a society. Maybe there eventually will be enough voices to change the narrative, but we still have a long way to go. These narratives still don't have happy endings when, in , a black security guard can be assumed by a policeman to be the perpetrator because he's black. Because the policeman created a fictitious black shooter that needed to be stopped, and he stopped him.
Let me know when you find one. Nov 26, Brooke rated it it was amazing. This is an absolutely incredible collection of poetry that centers on the experience of being a black male in white America.
The first section - titled the same as the overall collection, Brutal Imagination - is written from the perspective of the black male that Susan Smith, a white woman who murdered her two children, made up to lay the blame on.
The poems within this section are so intricate and breathtaking. I also enjoyed the second section, Running Man. Apr 09, Amanda Coppedge rated it it was amazing Shelves: read-in Cornelius Eady was a huge influence on me--he did a poetry workshop at my elementary school when I was very young and he has loomed large in my mind ever since. This book includes two collections of poems which each narrate a story.
His ghostly voice is interspersed, spilling dark secrets. Spare, brilliant, heart-wrenching and utterly real. View all 3 comments. Aug 01, Franny rated it it was amazing Shelves: yes , poetry. Jun 15, Jasonlylescampbell rated it really liked it. Wow, this was tough and good. Its two poem cycles, the first one is the thoughts of an imaginary black man whom a white woman blamed when she killed her kids.
As such, it lets you into the many ways in which the other and the black man is a scapegoat and all the fears put on him and how that feels to him as they are undeserved. The second cycle is Running Man about a smart kid who becomes a killer. These are intense but also readable. These poems let us enter into a fuller world Jan 14, rosalind rated it liked it Recommended to rosalind by: CWO. Shelves: poetry , drama. A collection about race and the repercussions of lying, these poems are complex and deep.
The poet is a brilliant writer and the way he wrote these out makes you feel the pain he wants to express over being black and how it is living in this country. Straight forward Poetry that is not belabored by imagery or metaphors is good to me. This was straight forward story-telling poetry. It was dealing with dark imagery but poetry does if you deal with racism head on. Jul 21, Nicky rated it really liked it. Oct 26, Lynda Eicher rated it it was amazing. When the invented black murderer of Susan Smith tells the story of his "birth" in the form of poetry, you take notice.
Thank you, Cornelius. Feb 01, Peace E, A I rated it it was amazing. I have no words! This book left me breathless and without words. I find myself often returning to to think with and through it, especially the poem, sex by running man. Very powerful read. Mar 05, Steven rated it it was amazing. The first brilliant decision made in putting together this book was deciding to juxtapose two seemingly disparate narratives to provide a complete picture of the pressures and dangers of being an African-American man in the United States.
The first section, written in the voice of the fictitious black kidnapper Susan Smith invented to cover-up the killing of her two children, is a blazing criticism of white America's view of African American men.
It digs deep into our cultural associations of Af The first brilliant decision made in putting together this book was deciding to juxtapose two seemingly disparate narratives to provide a complete picture of the pressures and dangers of being an African-American man in the United States. It digs deep into our cultural associations of African-American people and how these made it so easy for Mrs.
The connection in Eady's art between music and drama, drawing on their close associations in African-American traditions, has never been more important than in this work, which comprises two distinct Brutal Imagination is a phenomenal poem. Using the Susan Smith case as a point of departure Eady writes about the non existent carjacker using him as a vessel for fear, mistrust, and racism in modern He is the co-founder and vice president of Cave Canem, a retreat for African-American poets. Brutal Imagination : Poems. Cornelius Eady. The two sections that make up this work each could be called a song cycle confront the same subject: the black man in America.
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