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Commentary on “Creation Stories”

Christie Cochrell

This story started as my response to a suggested theme, “the creative self.” And it almost at once became a means of subverting my disappointment at facing another year or more of being kept at home, away from the travel I’ve done so much of for most of my life. I’ve been doing a lot of armchair travel lately through my writing, with the armchair I write in planted sturdily between the contemplative needles and cones of a Monterey Pine in one window (clouded with sea-spray, so my view is dreamy, inner) and the somehow more art nouveau camelia bush in another. And any time I look around for further inspiration I’m given more than I can ever use by the ranks of favorite old books watching from nearby cases—many Greek classics and collected myths, Mary Renault, Lawrence Durrell on the Greek islands, attempts at mapping the travels of Odysseus. 

It was a lot of fun to match places around the world with the creation stories told there—an absorbing education in itself, and then to fit those into the overarching framework of the myth of Demeter and Persephone, the goddess of natural creation and her daughter, famously abducted by the lord of the underworld. (At that point my re-creation of the myth took a whimsical turn which I hadn’t initially intended.) I wandered far and wide, and happened on both familiar and intriguingly unfamiliar places, foods, figures, glimmers of hope for our continuance.

The Big Island of Hawaii has been one of the places that I’ve revisited over the years, and I’ve stayed a couple of times there in the house of a hugely creative friend, which crept into the growing story just a little (another lost possibility), adding its color too. And having come from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and stayed in close touch all my life, I revere the myths and ceremonies of the southwest, the intense creative powers of that area which I still—always—borrow from.

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Christie Cochrell’s work has been published by Catamaran, The First Line, Lowestoft Chronicle, Cumberland River Review, Tin House, and a variety of others, and has won several awards and been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. Chosen as New Mexico Young Poet of the Year while growing up in Santa Fe, she’s recently published a volume of collected poems, Contagious Magic. She lives by the ocean in Santa Cruz, California—too often lured away from her writing by otters, pelicans, and seaside walks.

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