The Half God of Rainfall. Poetry Is Social Commentary.
-No. Zeus who is old as stars
thinks Earth spins for him,
that he is entitled to our bodies.
He will never learn.
Vengeance is ours-
Ellams has crafted with poetry a story that deals with the trauma of sexual violence; using the backdrop of the realm of the Orisas and Mount Olympus. He also vividly captures the lust, the arrogance, and absolute hubris of the violators and what that desire to own, to conquer, to self-gratify means for the victims.
Quite clear as well is the allegory for colonization: the brutalization, pillaging, dismantling, and eradication of identity and culture that is destined for the colonized. After the value has been extracted, policies are dictated that ensure that even after colonial powers have withdrawn, they still reap the benefits of any and every resource of their former colonies. And if at any time they feel their elevation and veneration is being threatened, malicious steps are taken to quash any such rising from the ashes. I recognized the parallels that can be drawn between a colonial presence and the scars left due to sexual abuse and violence. These acts are selfish and are only ever concerned with the power and control that the perpetrator can show they hold over their intended target.
Attributing the prowess of well-known, real-life basketball stars with being the off-spring of gods and mortal women was an interesting concept that I also enjoyed, and can map how their style and talent could be linked to their paternal genetics. What did not escape my notice however, is that all of these demi-gods came from the masculine manifestation mating with mortal women. This was integral I believe to Ellams' underlying theme of how prevalent sexual abuse and violence is against women. It is important to note that because he focused on this particular aspect of society, does in no way negate the boys and men who themselves been victims.
While reading I just could not stop seeing how analogous the degradations and violations that Ellams allegorizes through sexual violence with all the other institutions that were set up specifically to disenfranchise and disadvantage Black people; yet still the spirit to never go gently, to fight back, to shout against the injustices, to smash the odds was also a defining thread through this narrative.
This poella (poetry + novella) is also a powerful testament to the love that a mother bears for her child.