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Cornelius Eady and Rough Magic / Press

“Eady takes a hard look at race in the U.S., and the deaths of black men like Treyvon Martin, Emmett Till and Michael Brown clearly shape Singing While Black. For example, Rough Magic’s vocalist, Robin Messing, sings of John Punch running from his life as a 17th-century indentured servant only to be recaptured and made a slave while his white companions are punished less cruelly. And in the poem Emmett Till’s Glass Top Casket, we are reminded of a violent past that will not be hidden from view and memory.”

“his songs tap the mythic expanse in narratives of black lives, antebellum to present, that rise up against the racist power structure. In "Tearing Down The Master's House—made indelible with arabesque runs by saxophonist Max Abrams—place and time are pointedly unspecific, so to evoke a mood both radically personal and globally resonant”

“Poet Cornelius Eady leads Rough Magic, a folky, jammy sextet that illuminates Eady's writing about music and the black experience. As he writes in "Leadbelly": "Sometimes the only way to discuss it/Is to grip a guitar as if it were/ Somebody's throat/ And pluck." He grips ears, too.”

“poetry and jazz melded together in a way you’ve never heard. Musical, grooving, funny, sad, humane.”

“Singing with a band involves a lot: amplification; mics, drums, guitars, interaction between yourself and five other players, rehearsals, etc. When we perform, we’re all involved in the work of getting the song across to an audience—so it isn’t just me, expressing myself, it’s a group of very talented people doing what they love best, what they’ve thrown their lives into. The longer I play with these people, the more I realize how lucky I am to have stumbled into meeting them. I can read a poem to an audience anytime; a moment when all six of us are in a zone with a song is something else. I’m very lucky that at this moment in my life, I can have both.”

“that’s the catnip for me. That’s what keeps me doing this for 20 years, knowing that they’re going to keep coming back every summer, I’m going to keep seeing them every summer. I don’t get this anywhere else I teach and I teach in some really nice places. I’m in a Ph.D. program I really love, I really love the people, the students are wonderful but there’s nothing like being at a Cave Canem workshop. That is a space unto itself.”

“Similar to Eady’s previous work, his new chapbook "Singing While Black" furthers the discussion of racial politics, especially against black men. John Punch - a jazz-folk song with an old feel, tells the story of a black man named John, who fled with two white men and, “when John got caught, he found out it weren’t the same”. This song seemed to capture the heart of being a black man-caught and the judicial system’s racial preferences”

“Collaborating with musicians and other vocalists onstage reflects a central theme in Eady’s work, so combining contemporary, rather ethereal-sounding riffs with poetry is a natural progression in terms of performance.”

“As a Pulitzer-Prize finalist in drama and author of numerous books, including Brutal Imagination, Cornelius Eady says there’s plenty to learn from poetry”

“This double chapbook/CD dives deep into songwriting. Abetted by able musicians and literati with chops (Kim Addonizio, Joy Harjo, Robin Messing), the poet spins "words for singing," ...the best tracks burrow under your skin. Don't be surprised to find "Rita Hayworth's Last Film" circling your memory."”

Nina Shengold - Chronogram Magazine

“(Eady's music is) in the vein of Taj Mahal when he’s at his metaphysical best, Keb’ Mo’ when he’s most squarely located at the crossroads of tradition and innovation, or Eric Bibb when he’s at his most soulfully transcendent.”

Joe Francis Doerr - Notre Dame Review

“The Book of Hooks project isn’t a blues song book, but it is certainly informed and haunted by those metaphors, the difference being of course, the stuff that floated through the AM radio in those days also floated between my ears as well. And I saw the same sort of reporting in the first poetry books I read. A different way of singing, to be sure, but still a way to story-tell with the short form. It’s what I hope Book of Hooks is up to, and is the unexplored country Rough Magic is headed for.”

““Stone Cold Jane” is one of the tracks from Cornelius Eady’s new chapbook from Kattywompus Press, Book of Hooks. I say tracks because these are as much songs as poems. “Stone Cold Jane” appears with the kind permission of Kattywompus Press.”

“When poet Cornelius Eady was a teenager, he carried around a guitar he didn't know how to play. After decades of publishing poetry in many forms, he's making that teenager happy with two new music releases. Cornelius Eady is the author of eight books of poetry, he is an award winning playwright, and he is also a musician. It is his poetry that has brought him to Iowa this week as part of the Mission Creek festival in Iowa City.”

“Book of Hooks, Vol. 1 &2 by Cornelius Eady. Kattywampus Press. 31&29 pgs. Cornelius Eady is a seasoned poet, and co-founder of Cave Canem. We read his poems in the New Yorker and our best places. Now he has turned to music with two chapbooks Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 containing song lyrics and the songs themselves in CD form. I’ve been playing them quite a lot and following the page and I find that poets who are songwriters have more lyrical antics than songwriters who are not poets. This makes it more interesting for me because the language is not subordinated as entry point for music but is the action itself; and, with music showing what language is capable of. These chapbooks plus music show what discipline it takes to manage instrumentation, a constellation of feelings, and ideas worth hearing. Also some social judgment is here and that’s what makes Cornelius Eady such a valuable member of this world.”

Grace Cavalieri - Wasjington Independant Review of Books

“The conference was a great place to network, buy your peers publications, and hear well published and polished authors such as Cornelius Eady, who is well known for the jazz and blues movement throughout his work. His literary band Rough Magic performed, and alongside him was writer Robin Messing belting out vocals behind Cornelius’s words. Their session still pops for me today. You could purchase his newest collection Book of Hooks, poetry and CD’s, and I did.”

“I had heard of Cornelius Eady before, but was unfamiliar with his work. It turns out that he is both a wonderful poet and talented musician. Eady began by introducing the concept of his new chapbook, which actually comes in two volumes, each accompanied by a CD of the poems set to music. Eady had always wanted to release an album, so he began by writing lyrics (poems), which he then sent out to various musician friends to write music for the poems. This largely telecommunicated project resulted in a beautiful collection of songs. After the explanation, Eady’s performance commenced with the accompaniment of a badass violinist, whiz-bang guitarist and poet-friend Robin Messing’s majestic vocals.”