Ren (Katherine) Powell is a poet, playwright, translator and teaching artist. She is a native Californian, settled on the west coast of Norway.
Ren has been a member of The Norwegian Author’s Union since 2005, and has published six full-length collections of poetry, and more than two dozen books of translations with traditional publishing houses. Her sixth collection The Elephants Have Been Singing All Along was published in 2017.
Her poetry collections have been purchased by the Norwegian Arts Council for national library distribution, and her poems have been translated and published in six languages in chapbooks and anthologies.
She has been working as a teaching artist and theater-maker since 1996.
Born in Anaheim, California, Ren grew up turbulent households – most often on the wrong side of the tracks. She moved 42 times, and changed her name three times before settling in Norway in 1992.
Along the way, Ren worked as an actress, a belly dancer, a yoga instructor, a massage therapist, a baker, a gallerist, and a day manager at shelter for victims of domestic violence. She also worked through her own experiences of childhood sexual abuse, and the fallout of bipolar disorder with the help of poetry.
Ren’s work often reflects on the themes of identity, place/displacement, mental disorders, human rights & human obligations.
She has a special interest in telling women’s stories. The British poet Paul Farley once described her writing as “strange women, doing strange things.” She thinks that’s about right.
Ren received a BA in Theater Arts from Texas A&M University, and completed her MA (Distinction) and PhD in Creative Writing at Lancaster University in England. Ren has diplomas in Children’s Literature, Yoga Teaching, and Mindfulness. She has teaching certification from the University of Stavanger in Norway and completed Counselling Studies at Lillehammer College.
From 2005 to 2008, Ren served as the Norwegian PEN representative for PEN International’s Women Writers’ Committee. And from 2007 to 2008, she also served as their Human Rights Representative. During the same time period, as the Project Manager for the International Cities of Refuge Network, she helped establish and create the bylaws for a network that provides temporary haven for persecuted writers. She was the founding editor of the related, but independent, online literary journals Babel Fruit: Writing Under the Influence, and ProtestPoems.org, which involved poem-writing campaigns on behalf of persecuted writers on PEN International’s case list.
Ren is a runner, and a practitioner of meditation and yoga. She keeps a personal online diary for accountability.