Available in/from North America:
Mercy Island: New and Selected Poems
by Ren Powell
Phoenicia Publishing is proud to announce the publication of Ren Powell’s Mercy Island: New and Selected Poems, the author’s first collection to be published in North America.
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.
Preview, and purchase, here.
Available in/from Norway:
An Elastic State of Mind:
D.L.D.’s Autobiography in Poems
by Ren Powell
Dorothea Lynde Dix (1802-1887) was a professional writer, a teacher and an amateur naturalist. During the Civil War, she was appointed to the highest public office ever held by a woman in the United States. But the work she wanted to be remembered for was her work on behalf of the indigent mentally ill.
D.L.D., as she called herself, perfected the American oratory literary genre in her documentation of the conditions of the prisons and asylums in the United States and abroad. For more than 30 years she was monomaniacal in her efforts to establish government-funded hospitals and to improve the treatment of those suffering from mental illness.
D.L.D. never married. She earned her living by teaching and later lived off the royalties of her books. She traveled alone throughout the United States, and as far as Norway and Turkey, to confer with doctors and politicians. She even enjoyed an audience with the Pope Pius IX in Rome.
While she was a beloved antebellum celebrity, she was anything but a proto-feminist. Often misunderstood and misinterpreted by historians, D.L.D.’s public activities were not evidence of a rejection of the Victorian patriarchy, nor were they evidence of hypocrisy. D.L.D. cultivated her aura of femininity with great care, but she was a woman behind her own times, a role-model for a waning era. She was the perfect example of the Victorian “spinster” as the community’s ideal matriarch.
Extraordinarily devout and disciplined, D.L.D. was also damaged. Her childhood was marked by a volatile, abusive alcoholic father and a mother whom some described as mentally ill, and others described as drug-addicted. D.L.D. claimed she “never knew childhood”. Time and again she referred to herself as an orphan.
And she obsessed over the fragile hold she had on her own sanity.
The imaginative autobiography in poems formed the basis of Ren Powell’s PhD thesis at Lancaster University. Powell’s meticulous research was drawn from published and unpublished documents by historians and psychologists, as well as D.L.D.’s own letters, memorials and books. The poetry collection utilizes free verse, found poems and traditional verse forms such as the villanelle, sonnet, sestina and the English madsong. It also explores the expression of bipolar disorder through poetry.
An Intimate Retribution, translations by Eirik Lodén
mixed states, translations by Eirik Lodén
Fairy Tales and Soil, translations by Tor Obrestad
ANTHOLOGIES with various publishers:
Poets on Prozac
Ed. Richard M. Berlin, M.D.
Johns Hopkins University Press
Poets on Prozac shatters the notion that madness fuels creativity by giving voice to contemporary poets who have battled myriad psychiatric disorders.
The sixteen essays collected here address many provocative questions: Does emotional distress inspire great work? Is artistry enhanced or diminished by mental illness?”
Letters to the World:
Poems from the Wom-Po Listserv Poetry
Ed. Moira Richards, Rosemary Starace, Lesley Wheeler. Ren Hen Press.
Letters to The World is the first anthology of its kind—a feminist collaboration born from The Discussion of Women’s Poetry Listserv (Wom-po), a vibrant,
inclusive electronic community founded in 1997 by Annie Finch. Letters to The World is a remarkable example of how the Internet has radically rearranged associations among poets, editors, and readers.
Ren Powell has worked as a literary translator since 1996, and has translated more than a dozen book-length publications for various publishers.
Contemporary Norwegian poets she has worked with include Nils Christian Moe-Repstad, Jon Fosse, Jan Eirik Vold, Odveig Klyve, Tor Obrestad, Kolbein Falkeid, Helge Torvund, Gunnar Roalkvam, Finn Øglænd, and Mansur Rajih.
Ren takes on projects that are creatively challenging, and/or provide space for collaboration and inspiration. Send enquiries via email.