We were able to get an interview with Ray Ball about her piece “during the time of omens“ in Issue Seven!
This is an incredible take on such a dark moment in history. What really drew you to this particular moment?
By training, I’m a historian of the Spanish Empire. Last spring semester I was teaching a course on Latin America to 1800 and was re-reading some of the indigenous accounts of the conquest alongside my students. Starting to draft some poems about these texts helped me to come at them with fresh eyes. They are fascinating documents in part because many of them were produced by indigenous authors but under the supervision of Franciscans and other Christian clerics. I took snippets of them as my starting point for this poem that blends history, religion, and myths.
What would you say influences your writing the most?
A love of languages and texts. I love to read and research. Writing gives me an outlet for processing how I think and feel.
What got you into writing, or were you always a writer?
I’m an academic, so I’ve been writing scholarly history (essays, books, reviews) for quite a few years. After a really long hiatus of over twenty years from writing poetry and fiction, I started to write poetry and flash a little over two years ago. I like all these types of writing because they let me explore topics and use language in different ways. There are freedoms I can take in creative writing that I can’t in scholarly work that is bound to evidence.
How does poetry make you feel? To read and write and share it?
Poetry taps into all sorts of visceral emotional reactions for me.
Do you have any previously published pieces you’re particularly proud of?
I’m always delighted to have anyone read my work. I’m particularly proud of my first sole-authored history book Treating the Public: https://lsupress.org/books/detail/treating-the-public/.
In terms of poetry, it’s hard to pick just one or two to share, but I was also really stoked about another poem I wrote that is influenced by history, myth, and belief. It’s called “Eryx and Hypatius” and Okay Donkey published it: