The Autobiography of a Jukebox by Cornelius Eady

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Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Eady’s sharp scenes and images from ordinary life give readers a very clear view of the realities of African American experience. Many poems focus on the ambivalences of family life, as the poet’s affectionate sensitivity wavers and vacillates between sundry attentions. These scenes from everyday life are also generalized and so take on more general meaning for humanity. All the poems of “Home Front” give voice to the human experience of poverty, and the pressures of economic reality on family life are experienced by many people outside the African American community. “Rodney King Blues” and “The Bruise of the Lyric” are most clearly related to African American experience. While “Rodney King Blues” addresses the blatant injustice in the distribution of wealth and resources for African Americans, “The Bruise of the Lyric” celebrates the tremendous contribution of African Americans to cultural experience throughout the world. Eady explores his poetry, his identity, and his metamorphosed sense of self in “Small Moments,” concluding the volume self-consciously by considering the meaning and significance of the poetic art.