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About the Creator

Cornelius Eady is the author of Brutal Imagination, finalist for the 2001 National Book Award in Poetry. The play, based on the book, premiered at the Vineyard Theatre in New York in 2002, and received The Oppenheimer Award. In addition to Brutal Imagination, Eady has collaborated with jazz composer Deidre Murray on several theater pieces, including Running Man (finalist, Pulitzer Prize in Drama), You Don't Miss Your Water, and Fangs.
Eady is also the author of Hardheaded Weather (2008); the autobiography of a jukebox (1997); You Don't Miss Your Water (1995); The Gathering of My Name (1991), nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; BOOM BOOM BOOM (1988); Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (1985), chosen for the 1985 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets; and Kartunes (1980).
In 1996, Eady and the poet Toi Derricote founded Cave Canem, a nonprofit organization serving Black poets of various backgrounds and acting as a safe space for intellectual engagement and critical debate. His honors include an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Rochester, the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, a Lila Wallace- Reader's Digest Award, The Literarian Award from the National Book Foundation, The Elizabeth Kray Award from Poets House, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Eady is also a songwriter and musician, collaborating with his folk trio and band Rough Magic. He has served as director of the Poetry Center at SUNY Stony Brook and director of the MFA Program for Writers at the University of Notre Dame and as the Miller Family Chair at the University of Missouri in Columbia.
In fall 2021, he will become Chair of Excellence in Poetry at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, a position previously held by the US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.

Dear Listener,

Why should you listen to this story now?
"When I started to write the poems that would become the book, and then the play Brutal Imagination, I believe it was an attempt to flesh out why it was so easy for Susan Smith, a White Southern woman, who to my knowledge had no Black friends, to pull that imaginary guy out of her head to take the blame, and to do her horrible bidding. I wanted my poems to peel off the layers of that rancid onion to bring to light what she and everyone in this country carry around in our heads. But 20 years after the events of the true story, with Mr. Zero and Susan now reunited in Susan’s head, with the police murder of George Floyd and so many other Black men and women, with the rise of (and resistance to) the Black Lives Matter movement, after four years of nonstop political abuse to anyone who wasn’t male, super rich and White, it now strikes me as less a cat-and-mouse story between a racist murderess and her golem, and more about the process that has to occur before one can take the first steps toward liberation. Art, I think, is good for raising those questions, and also, as you listen to this reimagining of my play, consider what new world will be on the other side of that door. What will we carry with us, and what will we need to let drop and leave behind?" –Cornelius Eady, author of Brutal Imagination

Featured Article: The Best Black Audiobook Narrators to Listen to Right Now


A skilled performer has the ability to take the written word to new heights, infusing an author’s work with empathy, warmth, and excitement. And representation matters just as much for audio as it does for any visual medium: listeners should feel and hear themselves in art driven by powerful performers and authentic deliveries. We’ve gathered a few of the best Black audiobook narrators in the business and their can't-miss performances.

What listeners say about Brutal Imagination

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Terrible

I’ve never given a 1 star review, there’s usually something redemptive, but this has nothing. A woman and man read nonsensical phrases with incongruous and excessive emotions. It may be a kind of poetry?

I well recall the event that seems to have inspired this production as it occurred nearby to me and is probably still what Union County is best known for. Within a couple days of the children’s disappearance, it was locally known that Susan Smith was lying. The consensus at my workplace was disappointment that Susan’s story abandoned the traditional Southern trope of space alien abduction in favor of black-man carjacking. We knew this would allow national media to play up negative southern stereotypes. At the time, carjacking events were copious and “disproportionately affected people of color “ so didn’t fit the Media Narrative but a white-trash story where a black man didn’t commit the crime was newsworthy.

There were no black people involved in the incident and the word “black” was just Susan’s crude but natural attempt at verisimilitude. This dramatic work doesn’t seem to relate to the original event in any meaningful way. (It would be more entertaining with space aliens and just as relevant.)

21 people found this helpful

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Please...

With no expectation, with no bias, with no guilt, with no anger, with no finger-pointing or stones in hand to cast...from a place of loss, disappointment, desperation, and impressions not of your own choosing...just listen...not just to this (I won't classify) but to echoes of thoughts and conversations about this and the parallel echoes this invokes. This is an opportunity to empathize with both sides of a topic we aren't comfortable with and possibly be gentle when we have to do so in the future. We've all been misunderstood. Let this be a start of relating to that feeling and seeking to understand before judging. This is a lesson we hate to admit we get wrong but desperately need to learn.

19 people found this helpful

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Terrible

One of the worst Audible Original presentations I have ever heard. Poorly written. Poorly narrated. Overacting to the point of parody. Lousy special effects. Annoying music. Not a single redeeming feature .... except possibly that it is relatively short and thus reduces the suffering of the listener. Don’t waste your time on this one, folks.

13 people found this helpful

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Feels like the first time I heard about it SPOILERS

This was a masterpiece by all involved.

This is a horrific story and this new POV makes it worse.

Susan is the MONSTER in this stories in so many ways. She still is according to news reports.

Bravo to everyone involved in this production.

The narrators were perfect!

12 people found this helpful

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Amazing, powerful

Everyone should hear this. It touches on practically every frightening issue in society, while still managing to entertain—although you may almost feel guilty that you were entertained.
Never has a true crime story affected me as much as this one told so poetically yet effectively. Thank you to the author for touching on mental illness, racism and even the demonic that can enter a so called innocent small town girl. Great job. Just wish it had been longer because I didn’t want it to end! Joe Morton’s narrating was also magnificent.

11 people found this helpful

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Narration awful

I couldn’t keep listening. The narration is awful. I couldn’t focus on what they were saying because of the haulting speech and variations in tone.

10 people found this helpful

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Unforgettable Performances

Compulsively listenable. I listened through noise cancelling headphones with my eyes closed and let the actors bring this exquisite production to life.

9 people found this helpful

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way over the top🤣

The performers of the story are just way over the top, kills the story. a.

8 people found this helpful

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Meh

Not my favorite. I didn’t enjoy the production aspect of the story. I finished it only because it wasn’t too long. Otherwise I don’t think I would have finished it.

5 people found this helpful

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Terrible haunting tragedy in so many ways.

Thank you to the author.
This was a perfect dramatic performance of an incredibly difficult subject for white ears. And I can only imagine the difficulty for ears not like mine.
It is hard to see your subconscious self. But this performance helps me to maintain empathy and understanding of the terrible things that lay behind my conscious understanding.
Thank you.

5 people found this helpful