Poet Weaves Street Sense, Sincerity into Prize-Winning Work

October 24, 2008

There are times when hearing is believing. Listen to Cornelius Eady read his poems and you will hear cadences of blues and jazz. You will witness unflinching social commentary. You will recognize or learn to empathize with the struggles. You might feel like he is someone you have always known.

The public is invited to hear Eady’s infectious, unhurried, baritone at a reading and discussion at 7:30 p.m. October 29 in Francis Auditorium at Mary Baldwin University (Mary Baldwin). The public lecture is part of Eady’s visit as Mary Baldwin’s 2008–09 Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Doenges Visiting Artist/Scholar. He will also be a guest in classes during his fall stay and return to teach a three-week course during the college’s May Term in 2009.

Eady, associate professor of English and director of the creative writing program at University of Notre Dame, will intersperse excerpts from his poems into a narrative of his life, describing how his work as a writer expanded into teaching, theatrical collaboration, and the co-founding of a national organization for African-American poets, Cave Canem. Reflecting Mary Baldwin’s campus-wide theme, Maps, Eady’s self-introduction is titled “Mapping the Muse: A Poet’s Journey.”

Rick Plant, Mary Baldwin professor of English, still remembers how Eady “won over our students with his energy and his encouraging demeanor — not to mention his red sneakers and enormous warm smile” when he appeared at Mary Baldwin more than a decade ago.

Eady is the author of six books of poetry and his work has appeared in numerous journals, magazines, and anthologies. Recognition for his writing is extensive, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature, the Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, among others. The Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Doenges Visiting Artist/Scholar brings distinguished professionals and scholars in visual and literary arts to Mary Baldwin, providing learning opportunities for the college and the community. The program was created by friends and family of the late Elizabeth K. “Liddy” Doenges ’63.