We are the stories, and our bodies books…
This project began with meditation on the idea of impermanence. And with this image, with the body-as-story slowly losing shape. With our narratives falling apart, becoming loose elements that can/will be rearranged in another story. Which is what history is, after all.
The bust was made of plaster and paper mache (using my handwritten poems for the project ripped into strips). I photographed the bust in various locations in the Jæren landscape of Norway. It was supposed to break up slowly in the waterfall during filming. However, it was taken by the current and slipped under an old mill house - trapped by the torrent of water, the wooden beams, and the rocks.
But this is what happens when we try to plan our stories. Isn’t it? Everything falls apart. That’s the way of things.
IMPERMANENCE by Ren Powell
A Mad Orphan Lit. Publication
A Conceptual Multimedia Artwork:
Plaster/paper mache bust (video) and photography
Moroccan handmade paper (hardcover)
Double-Needle Coptic Stitching
(note: this intentionally loose stitch allows for an open-back and “lay flat” binding)
15 X 20 cm, 60 pages
Text block: 160gsm acid-free, ethically resourced paper
120 EURO Limited series of 10
Paperback facsimiles available here for 15 USD plus shipping.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT IT
“Ren Powell’s Impermanence acts as a reminder, both visual and visceral–in its physiological meaning (the heart, the gut)–that we live in and through the stories we tell. The cursive in her illustrations operates as one of several connectors that loop through her poems until these pictures and words combine to create, as she puts it, origami boxes: “your stories/ folding in on themselves.”
– Ann E. Michael, poet
“… you look up day after day surprised by the foreign landscapes of your own making” Ren Powell’s seventh poetry collection dissects the minutiae of life, and puts it back together in different unfamiliar shapes. Impermanence is what we are. In this collection of new poems, Ren Powell turns the human condition into a collage of words, drawings, and the blank spaces between breaths.
-Richard Pierce, poet/novelist/radio personality
The delicate exquisiteness of this text, the stories Ren tells, via poems I whispered aloud, is added to, and enhanced, by the artworks created by Ren… I reach page 10, completely in love with the artwork. I turn the pages, as much to read the next poem, as to discover the next piece of art. The clarity of, ‘and we remember it/and we tell it/differently’. The poem seems to float somewhere between the space that is Art, and the everyday reality of recognising a life truth… Reading this collection of poetry, I feel the presence of Ren … wise woman, teller of tales, wandering woman, warrior woman. A woman prepared to share her journeys, both real and imagined. A woman who makes a paper mache bust of her self and takes it out into the world to create images that further delight a mind already seduced by the power of her poetry. This book, IMPERMANENCE … I can only write that I found so much pleasure in its pages.
-Di Mackey, photographer and writer
WHO IS REN POWELL?
Ren Powell is a writer and teaching artist. She is a native Californian – now a Norwegian citizen 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 poetry collection The Elephants Have Been Singing All Along was published in 2017 by Wigestrand forlag.
Her poetry collections have been purchased by the Norwegian Arts Council for national library distribution, and her poems have been translated and published in eight languages.
Ren is currently focusing on handbound poetry collections and mixed media experimentation as Mad Orphan Lit.
More about Ren here.
WHAT IS MAD ORPHAN LIT?
After twenty-two years of publishing poetry and translations through traditional publishing houses, Ren Powell wanted to take a literal hands-on approach to bookmaking. With two years of university studio-art classes under her belt, and private bookbinding workshops with an award-winning binder, she has finally taken the step to pull it all together as the Mad Orphan Literature project. Impermanence is the first of many projects including broadsides and gift books.
For more information, review copies, etc. – Ren Powell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org