Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Given his willingness to experiment with bringing the rhythms of both jazz and blues to the written word and his belief in poetry as performed (that is, heard) art, Cornelius Eady (EE-dee), not surprisingly, has produced several experimental theater pieces involving original scores written by jazz cellist and longtime friend Diedre L. Murray. The first production, in 1997, was a staged recitation based on You Don’t Miss Your Water, Eady’s cycle of prose poems that recounts his father’s death. In 1999, Eady provided the libretto for an experimental jazz opera based on the story of Murray’s brother, a gifted man lost to a life of crime and heroin addiction. That production, Running Man (pr. 1999), won two Obie Awards and was shortlisted for both the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. His poetry collection Brutal Imagination contains a dramatic sequence based on the 1994 incident in which a South Carolina woman, Susan Smith, made up a story about an African American kidnapping her children to hide the fact that she had drowned them. The sequence was adapted into an off-Broadway play that won the Oppenheimer Award from Newsday in 2002.