Born in 1954, Cornelius Eady was raised in Rochester, New York. He attended Monroe Community College and Empire State College. He is the author of Hardheaded Weather (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2008); Brutal Imagination (2001), which was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award in Poetry; the autobiography of a jukebox (1997); You Don't Miss Your Water (1995); The Gathering of My Name (1991), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; BOOM BOOM BOOM (1988); Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (1985), which was chosen by Louise Glück, Charles Simic, and Philip Booth 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. Along with Derricote, he also edited Gathering Ground (University of Michigan Press, 2006).
His honors include the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
He has served as director of the Poetry Center at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Director of the MFA Program for Writers at the University of Notre Dame, and has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, The New School, The 92nd St. Y, City College of New York, The Writer's Voice, The College of William and Mary, The University of Missouri-Columbia, and Sweet Briar College.
In the Fall of 2021, he will be joining the English Dept. at the University of Tenn., Knoxville, as their Chair of Excellence in Poetry, a position that was previously held by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.