Aria Ligi’s poetry collection, Hammer of God (which is in two parts, Hammer of God and Ballet in Poesy, when available from the publisher Poetic Justice, and one in one volume everywhere else)is a vivid and dazzling collection wrought with emotion, violence, profundity, and spirituality. Ligi draws on classical imagery and themes in her work, and reflects this in her rich vocabulary, yet the way she draws the characters and scenes she observes feels intensely modern.
Stylistically, the poetry has a dark beauty. She treads a line between the profane, almost cult-like acts of depravity, prejudice and sin, with the holy and sacred. Most impressive is her use of form and meter, rhyme and assonance, in surprising and often unanticipated ways. These moments of sudden para-rhyme, where the words connect in sound, gives way to real poetic resonance and meaning. For example, in the conclusion to her poem ‘Delivery Seal’, featured in Hammer of God:
Hushed in whispers shrouded in screams-
Where to be, a woman was to be prey,
To voice dissent was only a dream.
The surprising rhyme, connecting ‘scream’ with ‘dream’, reveals the oxymoronically frustrated nature of a woman’s battle against oppressive forces.
The second half of the collection, Ballet in Poesy, features some more uplifting verse:
In raining, shower the equipage,
Complete each fairway and byway,
The road to evermore.
One is reminded of the optimistic travelling poetry of Tolkien: ‘The road goes ever on and on’, yet there is something spiritual and eternal suggested in Aria Ligi’s final line, the sense of a greater journey beyond death. Coupled with her spirituality, is also a sexual energy that runs throughout in poems such as Poet Pen and Corn Queen.
Finally, Ligi’s poetry is contemporaneous and relevant to our times, especially as she explores themes of inequality, unseen crimes against fellow humanity, and of corruption at the highest level. In her poem, ‘Dividing Stain’, she briefly alludes to ‘black boy’s bodies on parade’ before then cutting us with an astonishing quatrain:
Do their corpses float, unbent-unbroken
Above our field of plan.
Whispering raining, softly the silent shrieks,
Then no more the pain.
This is outstanding poetry that is at once classical and contemporary. I cannot recommend Hammer of God enough.
Joseph Sale, Author and Editor, and author of Beyond the Black Gate
2 Replies to “Hammer of God: A Vivid and Dazzling Collection by Joseph Sale”
Great review Joseph..I wholeheartedly echo your sentiments!
Joseph Sale has zeroed in on the key attributes of this great contemporary poet, Aria Ligi, whose name should be on all our lips. I am proud to say I know Aria Ligi. Her collection of poetry entitled Hammer of God should be purchased by the world. Outstanding work!