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The Book of Earth and Other Mysteries showcases the richness, daring, playfulness and tough-minded precision of Jill Hammer’s imagination – an imagination in which the poetic and the spiritual, the domestic and the archetypal, are passionately, eloquently intertwined. Superabundantly alive, Hammer’s poems dance with dragons, plumb the paths between life and death, storm the ramparts of the Torah and resurrect the bones of myth, all while maintaining a skeptical, compassionate self-awareness that ensures that even when they are “knee-deep in mythic verge,” Hammer’s lines are lit by laughter. –Joy Ladin, poet and professor of English, Yeshiva University Stern College
Rabbi Jill Hammer is a dazzling writer whose energy and originality—and deep knowledge of our past—illuminates all she touches. The poems in The Book of Earth bring all the worlds together in one woman’s journey and will inspire the journeys of all who read them. –Alicia Ostriker, author of The Nakedness of the Fathers and The Volcano Sequence.
The Book of Earth and Other Mysteries is a doorway into the bright, bold, dangerous, and beautiful world of Rabbi Jill Hammer’s spirit journey.
The Book of Earth and Other Mysteries contains poems that are by turns fantastical and liturgical, mystical and autobiographical. The poet’s languages include Talmudic statements, biblical imaginings, ancient goddess myths, fairy tales, and encounters with the mystery of the earth itself. Jill Hammer writes: “I have come to realize that the world in which I live is the world of myth, and vice versa. This book of poems, drawn from over twenty years of writing in different forms and voices, is a record of the attempt to see the two worlds as one.” Seven enchanting artworks by the renowned Ilene Winn-Lederer enhance the mythic quality of the book. This book is an incantation meant to make magic in the life of the reader.
In the Zohar there are two kinds of earth in the human being. The raw earth of the body comes from the Shekhinah (the indwelling Divine presence within the material world), and the more subtle earth of the soul comes from the higher Mother known as Binah, the cosmic womb of souls. Both of these kinds of earth, the “earth of the earthly Temple” and the “earth of the celestial Temple” are fecund and multiple: they contain the elements of air, water, and fire, and they make life possible. In the twenty-five years I have written poetry, I have found that these two soils together make a powerful field for growth.
As a child, I was more at home in the world of myth than in the world in which I lived. More recently, I have come to realize that the world in which I live is the world of myth, and vice versa. This book of poems, drawn from over twenty years of writing in different forms and voices, is a record of the attempt to see the two worlds as one. Some of the writing is liturgical, some is narrative, and some is imagistic, but I see the journey as one journey.
I feel anchored in this work by my ancestors, who traveled between the worlds on a regular basis: the prophets who went on spirit journeys in the wilderness, the wise women who offered healing and vision, the sages who meditated on supernal realms, the dreamers who followed the messages within their dreams.
When I was a child, I would dream that somewhere in a closet or in a dingy mall there was a small door, and I would go through the door and there would be a vibrant mansion, palace, garden, or cave— a bright, bold, dangerous, and beautiful world.
I want this book to be a little like that. I hope you find it so.
Rabbi Jill Hammer
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Interior: Ink Full color
Dimensions (inches) 6 wide x 9 tall
Copyright Jill Hammer (CC BY-SA)
Dimus Parrhesia Press
Published September 18, 2016
Language English, Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Akkadian