Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Brutal Imagination Pa” as Want to Read:
Brutal Imagination Pa
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Brutal Imagination Pa

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  316 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Brutal Imagination is the work of a poet at the peak of his considerable powers. Its two central sections--which could be called song cycles--confront the same subject: the black man in America.The first, which carries the book's title, deals with the vision of the black man in white imagination. Narrated largely by the black kidnapper that Susan Smith invented to cover up ...more
ebook, 128 pages
Published January 15th 2001 by Putnam Adult (first published 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Brutal Imagination Pa, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Brutal Imagination Pa

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Amanda Coppedge
Apr 09, 2014 Amanda Coppedge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014, poetry
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. "Brutal Imagination" is from the point of view of the fictional black man invented by a white woman who blamed him for drowning her children. "Running Man" is a series of family recollections post-death as they speculate, justify, mourn and try to understand who thei
Aug 01, 2016 Franny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, poetry
holy shit. an incredible premise written beautifully. will be thinking about these poems for months.
Mar 05, 2008 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Dec 28, 2007 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autographed
This books is split into two sections. The first covers a poem cycle that reflects on Susan Smith's invented story of a black man stealing her car and murdering her children. This cycle is divided into four sections, three of which coming from the perspective of the black man she fabricated. (The second section is told from various members of the black community about their roles as black citizens.) For me, the most powerful and provocative are the first and last sections of the cycle.

The second
Cornelius Eady's prescient book of poetry centers around the 1994 double murder of Michael and Alex Smith, killed by their mother Susan Smith. Brutal Imagination speaks to the way in which white fear of the Black body can and does impact the sensory perception of white people. Eady makes hay out of the multitude of white "witnesses" who claimed to see an individual who never existed, pairing biting satire with heavy existential speculation. Eady's poems exist in a previously unseen world, the wo ...more
May 01, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those looking to read Running Man, a 1999 finalist for the Pulitzer, the closest thing to a published version is Cornelius Eady’s aptly-named Brutal Imagination.

This collection of poems can be divided into two sections: Brutal Imagination, told from the perspective of the nonexistent black man Susan Smith claimed kidnapped and killed her children, and Running Man, a story of the death of a black man (and, in a larger context, how American society destroys young black men).

The poems, despite
Feb 08, 2008 W.B. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I thought this book was brilliant in the way it took horrible cultural liabilities (early 20th century representations of black America in adveritising) and turned them into speaking personae to address contemporary America.

It played with beings that don't exist; it let them speak. Also brilliant was his "incarnation" of the imaginary black man Susan Smith blamed when she murdered her children. Eady created a really powerful poem around that deeply disturbing shared cultural experience.

I was re
Sep 13, 2016 Pete rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
two things happening here: a set of poems on the unknown, non-existence "black male" that susan smith alleged kidnapped her children in 1994. wry, wounded, powerful poems. i do think that they've suffered a bit from their marriage to a case that was a national flashpoint but now is remembered more as a gruesome true-crimer. eady's insistent elevation of crass reality into art works out in the end, although it does require you to soil your personal spirit linens by thinking about the susan smith ...more
Apr 19, 2008 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book of poems, lent to me by my dear friend Susie Meserve who took off on a plane to Norway before I could get it back to her!! More than half the book is about the mythical "black man" that Susan Smith indicted to cover up her own murder of her children. While I think that the voice could have been eerier, could have gone a little further, taken more twists and turns to disrupt the consciousness of the reader, the concept is bold and daring and necessary and makes an impor ...more
Jul 22, 2013 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The first half of this collection, told from the perspective of the Black man Susan Smith invented to blame for her murder of her own children, has a haunting quality - the poems feel as if they're narrated by ghosts, something real but that shifts away when you catch a glimpse of it from the corner of your eye. The reality of this spector and its consequences for Black men (which Eady details more in the second half of the collection) is impossible to deny, even as Eady refuses to bring his ima ...more
Denton McCabe
Oct 22, 2015 Denton McCabe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent poetry. This book is very moving and in light of all the racially motivated violence in America, works like Brutal Imagination (a four part cycle of poetry) are incredibly moving and profound. I would like to see these poems set to music, or at least some of brutal imagination set to music. The Running Man Poems make up the second cycle in the book and many of them were set to music by Diedre Murray and performed as an opera. I did not enjoy those poems quite as much as the Brutal imag ...more
Mar 17, 2014 Tea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a startling book of poetry. Cornelius Eady's Brutal Imagination is about injustice. The poet uses two high profile cases to prove that sadly unfairness does live in our land of liberty. Brutal imagination is broken up into two parts. One part shows imagination can be used to expound hatred in our society. The other part of the poetry book is titled Running Man. It's a more general view of the hardships black men face in society. Cornelius Eady's poetry is splendid. Brutal Imagination lef ...more
Gerry LaFemina
May 05, 2014 Gerry LaFemina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Just reread this book for the first time in a dozen years with my poetry book group: Eady's ability to give life and pathos to the imagined killer of Susan Smith's children in precise lyrics is compelling; and the multiple voices of the book's second half--variants of a libretto on the life story of young successful hood--show him to be not just a fine craftsman but also a poet with great command of what makes us human.
May 31, 2008 Wizzard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I had forgotten about the "Running Man" poems when I checked this book out from the library and only remembered the Susan Smith poems of the first half. The poems of the second half have a compelling narrative arc that gives its own meaning to the title "Brutal Imagination." I was looking to read how Eady used the series of poems to tell a narration and I was not disappointed. The language is sparse and evocative. "Running Man" kept surprising me with each new poem. A good read!
Nov 11, 2008 Kristy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking for something different.
I never really had a liking for poetry until I found narrative poetry which is evident in this book. Eady's chronological sense of tying everything together through poetry is impeccable and this is the first book of poetry I picked up that I actually liked. It speaks of so many important controversial issues such as abduction, homicide, and race that are resembled in all of these poems. It would even be a great book for justice studies!
Jan 28, 2008 Evan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: more_than_once
Individually, the poems in the first half ("Brutal Imagination") are not brilliant. Together, however, they create a fantastic arc that transcends the simple "everyone is racist" conclusion that this subject could offer.

The Running Man poems were okay. I am curious to read more by Eady, so that in itself is a good sign.
Aug 03, 2013 Denali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 America but also as an achingly real human with a dark sense of humor, curiosity about the people who have phoned in sightings of him, and (most heartrending of all) a deep tie with Smith herself.

Sep 23, 2009 Gerardo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This books makes me think about the imagination that people in general have in order to convince a whole social group to believe something that it is not true. Eady's captures the bias, and stereotypes that exist in the world. Really captive and truthful. It is really a changing point of view. It Rocks!
Feb 08, 2008 secondwomn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, poetry, 2010
heartbreaking and direct book of poems about race relations in america from the inside out, cut from the cloth of THE INVISIBLE MAN. highly recommended reading for anyone interested in language, class, race, and social constructions of identity.
Apr 08, 2016 Kit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
The first half is mainly poems written in the voice of the black man Susan Smith invented to explain her children's disappearance. Eady breathes life into other products of a "brutal imagination" with other poems spoken by stock figures such as Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima. Terrific suite.
Jul 31, 2007 Donnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: poetry
Penetrating and powerful. Eady assumes the identity of a fictitious African American murderer a white woman created to explain the death of her two children she that's a mouthful. Its chilling.
Jun 25, 2011 Joshlynn marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Well, this book itself wasn't a Pulitzer finalist, but the Running Man poem cycle in this book was later adapted into a musical of the same name, which was a finalist and doesn't appear to have been published yet. So for now this one goes in my Pulitzer shelf.
Jan 22, 2008 Donnelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
C. Eady - my first encounter with this poet - this book lays it out - what it can/may be/feel like being a black man in white america - Eady goes deep here - a good read - check it out if you have yet to do so.
Donna Rae
Jul 31, 2009 Donna Rae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't put it down was in the middle of another book but couldn't stop this once I picked it up. Made me think. especially the first half
Jan 15, 2008 Jon-michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
well i like this book lots because it is all bassed on a black mans life whyll growing up. it is amazing
Nov 16, 2008 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
From the page to his voice is a big and wonderful leap.
Feb 02, 2016 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Powerful, thought provoking and beautiful poetry dealing with the plight of the black man in american society. Want to reread and take notes.
Jan 19, 2008 Abraham rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
twinkles where MACNOLIA shines. A book that seems to be not much better than the description of the book. I dislike it only slightly less than Nick Carbo's Secret Asian Man for the same reasons.
Dawnelle Wilkie
Aug 05, 2008 Dawnelle Wilkie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
A disturbing and beautiful short collection of poems from one of our greatest living poets. The poems will stay with you and make you view the world differently.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Hip Logic
  • Sleeping With the Dictionary
  • Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980
  • American Sublime: Poems
  • Speak Low
  • Duende
  • The Selected Levis
  • Please
  • Hinge & Sign: Poems, 1968-1993
  • Fragment of the Head of a Queen: Poems
  • Kinky
  • Kyrie: Poems
  • A Hunger: Poems
  • M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A
  • leadbelly
  • Bellocq's Ophelia
  • Blackbird and Wolf: Poems
  • Miracle Fruit
Like Joyce and Tolstoy, Cornelius Eady is an American writer focusing largely on matters of race and society, His poetry often centers on jazz and blues, family life, violence, and societal problems stemming from questions of race and class. His poetry is often praised for its simple and approachable language.
More about Cornelius Eady...

Share This Book