Lararium centers on the poet’s fraught relationship with her deceased father, a zoologist who specialized in reptiles and amphibians. These poems explore themes of family, ecology, animal behavior, regret, and climate change. Evoking the piney woods of east Texas, the shrinking glaciers of Alaska, and the ruins of Pompeii, Lararium contains lyrics of loss and narratives of hope in the face of despair.
One of the things I enjoy most about reading a well-wrought poem is its ability to defy the laws of physics, packing so much density into such little mass. This is exactly the experience you’ll have reading Ray Ball’s new collection, Lararium. Each pristine line carries the densities of memory, family, world history, linguistics, zoology, and so much more, without the burden of unnecessary weight. In fact, I promise, you’ll leave these poems buoyant and unburdened by their beauty.
—Jack B. Bedell, Poet Laureate, State of Louisiana, 2017-2019, author of No Brother, This Storm
A curious elegy, Ray Ball’s Lararium opens with the poet transforming into the image of Medusa, whose shape was both beautiful and terrifying, capable of turning all she saw into stone. She writes, “I remember / in my home, too, snakes were / worshipped.” Both tender and precise, Ball’s gaze falls on the nature of her father’s obsession with herpetology and the struggle of growing up in its considerable shadow. These poems observe the intrinsic threat held within the dynamics of familial bonds, climate change, mating rituals, and human nature. Nothing is safe here and beauty protects no one: “I did not know which of us / might have come to murder / the other there in the fullness / of the moon."—Julia Beach, Flypaper Lit
Within the pages of Lararium the Poet enshrines lyrical offerings to the household gods. These poems explore our complex human relationships and animal connections, from the scientist father to the guardian serpent, the flying fox, and ice worms.
—Vivian Faith Prescott, author of The Last Glacier at the End of the World and Silty Water People
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44 pages in a 6"x9" softcover matte finish with cream colored paper.