(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Bruce Beasley loosely organizes The Creation chronologically around Old and New Testament narratives and Christian rituals. In the book, which received the 1993 Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award, the poet intertwines materials from Greek mythology, history, and science, and personal contemporary imagery with references to Christian myth and devotion. Beasley, a Roman Catholic with an M.F.A. and a Ph.D., publishes regularly in prestigious literary journals such as Poetry, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Southern Review.

The Creation, his second volume of poetry, depicts God as an estranged father and is representative of the poet’s work. The first poem is “The Creation of Eve,” a recollection in the voice of Adam, dusted with the red of blood and seeds. This creation of Eve is portrayed as a rather violent and painful one, through the use of the verbs “hacked,” “split,” “squeezed,” “crushed,” and “splayed.” God appears distant in this poem, and both Adam and Eve are left weak and wounded by creation. Similarly, the divine Christ child, after his birth in “After an Adoration,” is described as “cold” and “helpless,” while his mother “flails her arms in her sleep.” These birth stories prepare the reader for the book’s final poem, “The Conceiving,” which narrates the impending birth of the child of the speaker of the poem. The child is welcomed to “an earth/ almost too physical to endure.” However, unlike Adam, Eve, and Christ, this newborn has a father to guide the child through the pain of earthly existence.

Poems referencing Beasley’s childhood suggest the absence of a warm parental presence. “Going Home to Georgia” announces that his parents, though now dead, suffered lives plagued by alcoholism. “The Instrument and Proper Corps of the Soule” reveals an estrangement between father and son, possibly because of the father’s “years of liquor.” However, though his mother apparently drank as well (“vodka killed her”), the poet does not experience the same estrangement from her: “Someone I love/ has wept/ for days, with no...

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The Creation Bibliography

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Beasley, Bruce. The Corpse Flower: New and Selected Poems. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006. A collection of poems that contains some from The Creation. Provides an overview of the poet’s work through his poetry. Contains some information about the author.

“Bruce Beasley.” Contemporary Authors Online. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale, 2007. Provides an overview of Beasley’s first four volumes of poetry. Includes biographical details and a bibliography.

Platt, Donald. Review of Summer Mystagogia, by Bruce Beasley. Christianity & Literature 47 (1997): 114-116. Although Platt describes the poetry of Beasley as largely poststructuralist, he compares it to the work of Emily Dickinson, Robert Lowell, and the religious poets John Donne, George Herbert, and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Wallenstein, B. Review of The Creation. Choice 32, no. 2 (1994): 278. Wallenstein suggests that The Creation, though centered in Christian imagery and themes, will appeal to an audience of non-Christian readers as well.