About Ren Powell
Ren has been a member of The Norwegian Author's Union since 2005, and has published five full-length collections of poetry (and more than two dozen books of translations) with traditional publishing houses.
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.
Her non-fiction essays have appeared in anthologies and magazines, and her dramatic works have been performed in the U.S., Canada and Norway.
Ren has a BA in Theater Arts from Texas A&M, and an MA and PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University.
"This Choice is Who You Are": A Mantra For Becoming
The bulk of my books will continue to be remaindered after a few years in my publisher’s warehouse, but every now and then someone will write to let me know a poem meant something to them on a particular day. Then they will forget my name.
But at least, when it’s over, it will have been an authentic run, in real time.
Standing on the edge of any conversation and then trying to casually take part—a sudden, disconcerting, change of topic: I experience the question “Where are you from?” as roadblock. A reminder. An unintended declaration of, “We know you don’t belong here.”
More than that, the question makes me feel diminished:
I believe we are the stories we tell ourselves: as a culture, and as individuals.
Over the years, I have worked with survivors of abuse, teens with Asperger’s and autism, persecuted writers, and with homemakers who once thought their lives were small and their stories mundane.
I have seen how a change in perspective forces a change in understanding. A narrative or a metaphor can turn a victim into a survivor, a whisper into a roar… or a roar into a lullaby.
Telling our life stories is transgressive. Our imagination is transformative.
I offer private mentoring for writers of all ages and levels of experience. Mentoring is done one-on-one: online via Skype or email, or in person in my workshop space in Bryne.
My focus is on Perspective Writing; or line by line feedback on Creative Writing – rather than final manuscript editing.
Creative Writing Mentoring is arranged in “sessions” of three meetings or emails, covering a max. of 15 pages of poetry, or 30 pages of prose essays/short stories. The framework for Perspective Writing for empathy or well-being is arranged on an individual basis.
(Til dere som lurer: jeg kan forklare hvorfor det er bra at jeg ikke skriver på norsk selv – hvorfor det er en fordel for de som jeg veileder i skapende skriving.)
Contact me to discuss what your goals are.
Workshops at Home and Abroad
These writing workshops are not about learning grammar or sentence structure. They aren’t going to provide you with a formula to write a bestseller. The workshops provide a supportive environment for expressive/creative writing and feedback: participation and communication.
I periodically hold workshops specifically for teens, or for adults in Rogaland.
I’ve also recently teamed up with the photographer Di Mackey to hold “Reframing Your Life” workshops for women. We focus (pun intended) on using photography, writing, and mindfulness as tools to promote well-being and personal growth. Join us in Stavanger or Genova!
Keep an eye out for News, or contact me for more information about upcoming sessions.
Some Reviews & Testimonials
about Mercy Island
by Ren Powell
“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
“… And sexy. These poems are sexy. And if I say dangerous, too, you’ll get the wrong idea. It’s not the danger and sex we’re used to from action heroes or rock stars. It’s something like the edge of the world…Ren’s poems are… showing me things I may not know how to talk about.”
Carolee D. Sherwood, poet and blogger
“The narrator in this fine collection is explorer and cartographer of a multitude of emotional, spiritual and international landscapes. Whether ruthlessly illuminating even the darkest corners in the rooms of herself, or putting on the lives of other women like so many beautiful garments, with tenderness and respect, Ren Powell’s narrator holds our attention and enriches our thinking.”
about Mixed States
by Ren Powell
“This handsome hardcover book, facing poems (English on the one side, Norwegian on the other), makes crossing from one language to another a fascinating exercise.
With uncompromisingly direct language and powerful imagery, her work comes from a vision similar to that of Flannery O’Connor or Cormac McCarthy: powerful images of a truth that slips aside just as one turns to view it straight on.”
Reviewed by Laura Kennelly
Small Press Review. July-August, 2005
about An Intimate Retribution
by Ren Powell
: “…as the title suggests, there is an expansion of the interpretation of ‘intimate’ .While the poet’s concern for animals and nature is evident, the book also focuses concretely on persecuted writers and rebellions against authority […] However, Ren Powell is no way a political slogan poet. These poems introduce us to the wondrous within our own lives. There is a varied use of language and the wide range of themes and poetic forms— but we are always brought back to the vulnerable and exposed aspects of human beings and nature. […] Perhaps what is most impressive is Ren Powell’s certain hand as she ventures far beyond the familiar when it comes to associations and images, to create remarkable, beautiful lines of verse, the likes of which are seldom seen.”
Helge Torvund in Stavanger Aftenblad, 2010
“My Graduate Mentor, Ren Powell, offered advice and guidance that refocused my essay writing abilities, emphasizing creativity and honest discourse over argumentation. […] Ren was supportive, and her feedback was detailed and well-stated. Through her correspondences, Ren is personable, and she respects student input and agency. She rarely dictates specific “solutions” to problems in a draft; instead, she provides guidance designed to help me find the best path for my learning and writing style. She poses thoughtful ideas and questions that get me rethinking and revising in the right direction.”
James Gapinski, MFA
“Ren sitt skriveverksted løftet fram mine egne og andres ubrukte evner på en enkel og overraskende måte. Hun inspirerte meg til å få tak på uante, veldig produktive og kreative sider, og gjorde det overraskende lett å få tak på min egen stemme som forfatter og å skape nye uttrykk. For eksempel overrasket jeg meg selv med å kunne skrive tøysete regler i en fart og uten en eneste selvkritisk tanke. Og med å kunne kombinere sekvenser basert på egenerfarte hendelser som hadde litterær og poetisk dybde og tyngde. Hun åpnet opp for, og veiledet den enkelte inn mot sitt eget unike forhold til det å skape og skrive, samtidig som vi hele tiden befant oss i et lyttende og nærende samspill med hverandre. I kroppen min duver ennå båten vi sjøsatte den gangen for over 3 år siden.”
Ingunn Mandt Larsen
For more information regarding workshops or private mentoring, write me here.