Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat

Enlarge poem

Charlie Mingus wrote this moan-full goodbye, had the horns

Sound like a room filled with old men watching the barge

Slip into the river Lethe towards the other side.

Lost uncles, fathers, brothers, the stink of tobacco, splash of gin,

The coolness some of them carried, the ones we think of

When we remember certain diners.

Because Lester Young had that sound. You can hear it

As he plays with Billie Holiday in a 50’s TV studio:

“Fine and Mellow”; love, that faucet which turns off

Or on. How that dumb hope, the maybe next time

Rises from their lips and tongues and throats.

Because Lester soothes the bruises on Billie’s voice

One last time. They chat, then walk out of the studio

Into love-less New York, never to meet again. In the elegy,

The horns sound like a warm hand clasping a cold one

On the cooling board. Then letting go.

Cornelius Eady

Featured Poem:

The Grey Goose

Enlarge poem

But the knife wouldn’t cut him…
-Leadbelly

At the opening circle at Cave Canem
A woman tells a story of how
Some MFA workshop professor chose to reply
To a question about a draft by calling her
A nigger—I use the word he chose—
Then showing her and the other black poet there
The door. This happened when she was young.
What is it now? A shell, dripped like lacquer on her skin?
A splinter, stuck between vein and bone?

We re-taste his poison
In her voice. Poison that doesn’t kill you
Is still poison, even in a room filled with trust.

And her story is now our story
And also yours.
If her tormentor could see the ways we will
Survive this
He would burst into bloom.

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  • Sadness (1)
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Biography

Cornelius Eady was born in 1954 in Rochester, New York. He is the author of seven books of poetry. the most recent being the critically acclaimed Hardheaded Weather (Penguin, 2008), which has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award. His other titles are: Kartunes, (Warthog Press, 1980); Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, (Ommation Press, 1986), winner of the 1985 Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets; The Gathering of My Name, (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1991), nominated for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; You Don’t Miss Your Water, (Henry Holt and Co., 1995); The Autobiography of a Jukebox (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1997); and Brutal Imagination (Putnam, 2001). His work appears in many journals; magazines; and the anthologies Every Shut Eye Ain’t Asleep, In Search of Color Everywhere, and The Vintage Anthology of African American Poetry, (1750-2000) ed. Michael S. Harper.

With poet Toi Derricote, Eady is co-founder of Cave Canem, a national organization for African American poetry and poets. He is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature (1985); a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, (1993); a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Traveling Scholarship to Tougaloo College in Mississippi (1992-1993); a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to Bellagio, Italy, (1993); and The Prairie Schooner Strousse Award (1994).

Cornelius Eady

Biography

Cornelius Eady was born in 1954 in Rochester, New York. He is the author of seven books of poetry. the most recent being the critically acclaimed Hardheaded Weather (Penguin, 2008), which has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award. His other titles are: Kartunes, (Warthog Press, 1980); Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, (Ommation Press, 1986), winner of the 1985 Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets; The Gathering of My Name, (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1991), nominated for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; You Don’t Miss Your Water, (Henry Holt and Co., 1995); The Autobiography of a Jukebox (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1997); and Brutal Imagination (Putnam, 2001). His work appears in many journals; magazines; and the anthologies Every Shut Eye Ain’t Asleep, In Search of Color Everywhere, and The Vintage Anthology of African American Poetry, (1750-2000) ed. Michael S. Harper.

With poet Toi Derricote, Eady is co-founder of Cave Canem, a national organization for African American poetry and poets. He is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature (1985); a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, (1993); a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Traveling Scholarship to Tougaloo College in Mississippi (1992-1993); a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to Bellagio, Italy, (1993); and The Prairie Schooner Strousse Award (1994).

Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat

Enlarge poem

Charlie Mingus wrote this moan-full goodbye, had the horns

Sound like a room filled with old men watching the barge

Slip into the river Lethe towards the other side.

Lost uncles, fathers, brothers, the stink of tobacco, splash of gin,

The coolness some of them carried, the ones we think of

When we remember certain diners.

Because Lester Young had that sound. You can hear it

As he plays with Billie Holiday in a 50’s TV studio:

“Fine and Mellow”; love, that faucet which turns off

Or on. How that dumb hope, the maybe next time

Rises from their lips and tongues and throats.

Because Lester soothes the bruises on Billie’s voice

One last time. They chat, then walk out of the studio

Into love-less New York, never to meet again. In the elegy,

The horns sound like a warm hand clasping a cold one

On the cooling board. Then letting go.

Featured Poem:

The Grey Goose

Enlarge poem

But the knife wouldn’t cut him…
-Leadbelly

At the opening circle at Cave Canem
A woman tells a story of how
Some MFA workshop professor chose to reply
To a question about a draft by calling her
A nigger—I use the word he chose—
Then showing her and the other black poet there
The door. This happened when she was young.
What is it now? A shell, dripped like lacquer on her skin?
A splinter, stuck between vein and bone?

We re-taste his poison
In her voice. Poison that doesn’t kill you
Is still poison, even in a room filled with trust.

And her story is now our story
And also yours.
If her tormentor could see the ways we will
Survive this
He would burst into bloom.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (0)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (0)
  • Captivation (1)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (1)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (1)

Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat

Enlarge poem

Charlie Mingus wrote this moan-full goodbye, had the horns

Sound like a room filled with old men watching the barge

Slip into the river Lethe towards the other side.

Lost uncles, fathers, brothers, the stink of tobacco, splash of gin,

The coolness some of them carried, the ones we think of

When we remember certain diners.

Because Lester Young had that sound. You can hear it

As he plays with Billie Holiday in a 50’s TV studio:

“Fine and Mellow”; love, that faucet which turns off

Or on. How that dumb hope, the maybe next time

Rises from their lips and tongues and throats.

Because Lester soothes the bruises on Billie’s voice

One last time. They chat, then walk out of the studio

Into love-less New York, never to meet again. In the elegy,

The horns sound like a warm hand clasping a cold one

On the cooling board. Then letting go.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.