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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