I finally picked up a copy of Cornelius Eady’s Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems. Thanks to Anthology New and Used Books for ordering a copy for me!
Eady has been a staple of the contemporary American poetry scene for the last few decades, landing poems in The New Yorker and Best American Poetry. He also earned a National Book Award nomination in 2001 for his collection Brutal Imagination. I have some of Eady’s full-length collections sitting on my bookshelf, but it’s nice to now own selected poems from every book, including the unpublished manuscript, The Modern World.
If you’re a fan of Eady’s work and hesitant to buy this latest collection because you own his previous full-length volumes, I still recomend purchasing this book. Besides the unpublished manuscript, this volume holds some other unseen work, including the collections Hardheaded Weather and The Way a Long Dress Turns a Corner.
In my opinion, the newer poems from Hardheaded Weather are alone worth the cost of the volume. In the opening pages, Eady presents narrative poems about a newlywed couple moving into a new house. But even early on in this collection, as the couple celebrates a new, blissful marraige, there are signs of troubled times to come, and troubled times the country itself will go through, including the war in Iraq. In the poem “Honeymoon,” the husband mentions the radical right wing group The John Birch Society has “adopted our section of the highway.” That same persona confesses a few pages later that he still doesn’t know “what to do/with the hammer/In my hands/it feels like/my tongue/looking for/the right way to say please/or don’t shoot.”
The political undertones grow stronger, especially throughout the poem “Pre-War,” where “An American flag, left behind by previous owners/stutters on the pole.” There’s constantly something threatening the couple throughout the poems, including house repairs, frost, storms, and even cancer. But the couple somehow manages to pull through, much like the country did after various wars and other foreign policy and domestic blunders.