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Erase Genesis

by Rebecca Gayle Howell

“Erase Genesis” is one of a series of poems I'm making from the Book of Genesis. In the collection I am creating simultaneous redactions of the ancient creation myths. What I'm finding is that, as I redact the same chapters in different ways, the poems are working together to reveal a new story. Our inherited interpretation of Genesis is that we humans have the right to dominate the Earth and all that is in it. It's that kind of thinking that has gotten us where we are now. Emerging here is a new myth, one calling me to surrender to the Earth's endowed intelligence for wholeness, for love. I started this series as a way to honor Marcus Wicker—his auspicious tenure as poetry editor at SIR, as well as his legacy as a poet who pursues the sacred with every word, his great music of justice and clarity. We became close in Provincetown, a landscape so elegant and extreme it seems to be built to teach any person they are not the God of that or any place. Marcus and I and our fellow fellows at the Fine Arts Work Center were changed by its land and water and winter. When I close my eyes I am still there, cold and in awe of the artistry humming all around us, and through us. That wild intelligent wholeness, to which I got to, get to, surrender.

Rebecca Gayle Howell is a 2019 United States Artists Fellow in poetry. Her Best Book of the Year honors include those from The Best Translated Book Awards, Foreword INDIES Awards, The Nautilus Awards, Ms. Magazine, Book Riot, and  Poets & Writers. Howell is the long-time poetry editor of the Oxford American  and an assistant professor for the University of Arkansas Program in Creative Writing & Translation. Her most recent book is What Things Cost: An Anthology for the People, co-edited with Ashley M. Jones.