Aria Ligi’s Hammer of God tackles difficult, raw topics and takes the reader through a gamut of emotion with skillfully arranged visceral and sensual poetry. From the soul-breaking pain of betrayal (Hammer of God section) and loss (Missive Mourn) to the poignant Prime Mother and altogether cool Faery Fluting, the author combines literary prowess and passion with astute observations.
Most impressive to this reader was Cookie Dough, with its insightful, “…Yet we stand above, At the larder of life and judge what is, as less than. We lament the loss…”, and Vesper Bell, which reminds us of the tragic effects of misplaced suspicion.
Researching the occasional archaic word as well as the life of Lucrezia Borgia is worth the extra reading. Hammer of God contains exquisite artwork and terrific one-liners. Highly recommended (for adults only), especially for poetry lovers.
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.
His fingers read my body like Braille, skimming the epidermis Along the fine downy trail We are on a scarlet sea His hands in my mouth, my teeth in his bones, Spitting the marrow out.
It hurts that he cannot see the curve, the words; the colors in me. We chew like dogs on each other’s skin, Hair and mucus, between the gums. We claw and devour like rat infested ghetto women, Noisy and messy, and full of need.