Resident Artist Emily Ruth Hazel’s new poem in response to the theme of “Lies” and Genesis 2:21-25, 3:1–13; John 3:8; 18:37–38; Ephesians 5:25-33 and Revelation 22:17 as she builds a poetry collection responding to every theme from the year as a 2013 Spark+Echo Artist in Residence.
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21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. 22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
1 Now the serpent was more subtile than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
26 that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
As with the first three themes of the year, which I found myself defining by contrast—Light and Darkness were intertwined, the theme of Fools led me to write about wisdom, and Dancing was set in relief against grief—the theme of Lies inspired me to explore the alternatives, honesty and truth. Under the many layers we wear, there is an opportunity for daring vulnerability and naked authenticity. The truth of who we are, and of who God is, is not as simple or as flat as it is often presented or misunderstood to be; deeper truths are always multifaceted.
In “Runaway,” I wanted to take a closer look not only at our human tendency to run away—from truth, among other things—but also at how God has different qualities of a runaway, being hard to tie down and moving unexpectedly. This got me thinking about our human strategies for trying to make sense of our world and of the spiritual realm, and how religion can come close to articulating these things but sometimes misses the point entirely. Since subtle masks and readily accepted myths can be just as dangerous and destructive as overt lies, if not more so, I wanted to offer a poem that could acknowledge a few misconceptions about Christianity and some of the contradictions within the global and historical Church, which are troubling to me.
When I began delving into the chain reaction of deception and hiding just a few pages into Genesis, I was surprised to discover a direct connection between that text and the New Testament passage I had already had in mind to respond to (Ephesians 5:25–33), which quotes a line from Genesis about the mystery of marriage. I’m intrigued that the Apostle Paul chooses the metaphor of marriage—perhaps the most complex and intimate of human relationships—to depict the relationship between God and the Church. It was this image that became my starting point for taking off some of the layers.
Emily Ruth Hazel is a New York City-based poet and writer who is passionate about making poetry accessible to a diverse audience of readers and listeners. Twice she has been awarded a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize in a national competition for emerging poets. A collection of her poetry, Body & Soul (Finishing Line Press), was published as a finalist in the New Women’s Voices competition. Her work has also appeared in Kindred, Magnolia: A Journal of Women’s Socially Engaged Literature, Brown Alumni Magazine, The Mochila Review, Texas Poetry Calendar 2014 (Dos Gatos Press), Deep Waters (Outrider Press), The Heart of All That Is (Holy Cow! Press), and Mercury Retrograde (Kattywompus Press), among other publications.
A graduate of Oberlin College’s Creative Writing Program, she has led creative writing workshops for youth at schools, libraries, and community centers in Massachusetts, Ohio, New York, and South Africa. She has also mentored underserved teens through Girls Write Now, a nonprofit dedicated to nurturing the next generation of women writers.
Emily enjoys cross-pollinating with artists of all kinds and has performed her work solo and collaboratively at numerous events. Two of her recent appearances were at the International Arts Movement conference and at the album release concert for "Soon We Will Not Be Here" by James Hall Thousand Rooms Quartet, a CD featuring poems transformed into songs by jazz trombonist/composer James Hall. You can connect with Emily on her Facebook Artist’s Page: facebook.com/emilyruthhazel.