Details, Blurbs, Excerpts, Reviews: Mercy Island

Mercy Island: New and Selected Poems. Phoenicia Publishing
by Ren Powell 

“These forty-one poems, written by Ren Powell between 1998 and 2010, depict a coming of age that begins in a claustrophobic American trailer park and expands into the kind of borderless existence shared by all emigrants and homesick travelers.

Throughout this journey, the poet’s fears–which are the fears we all harbor – are balanced by her unflinching witness to what is real, just, true, and beautiful. Even in the face of pain and disintegration, the poet refuses to relinquish her humor and her humanity.”


“Ren Powell takes the world in whole, ‘negotiates a new language,’ and gives it back to us in all its terror, strangeness, pain and beauty. Many of these poems read like fable: a woman with a gown of eggshells, a stone turtle that captures the essence of a childhood. Other poems testify to the resilience of the human spirit even after the unspeakable happens. I loved these poems for the freshness of the language, for their deep truths and most of all for their compassion.”

Patricia Fargnoli, author of six collections of poetry, winner of the ForeWord Magazine Silver Poetry Book of the Year Award, and Poet Laureate of New Hampshire, 2006-2009

“There is an intoxicating blend of lyricism and narrative in Ren Powell’s poems. With honesty and exhilarating invention, she writes of diverse subjects—a Palestinian poet, the flowering shroud of a spinster, a murdered 17-year old Mexican girl. What unifies these poems is intense energy and fierce craftsmanship.

At the heart of this collection is ‘Red-eared Slider’. Both accessible and elusive, sophisticated and scandalous, this poem returns to the speaker’s childhood to contemplate the violent death of her brother.

Reading Ren Powell’s poetry is like watching the changing light on the North Sea: the surface effects are stunning, the depths always in motion.”

Ted Deppe is the author of four books, most recently Orpheus on the Red Line, and coordinator of the Stonecoast in Ireland MFA program

Preview, and purchase, here.