Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Review by Toni Colleen - Impermanence by Ren Powell

I try to review Poetry writings and read them because I need to.  I believe we all need to.     My mind is so literal sometimes that it is hard for me to get carried away in poetry.   But the more you read, the more you feel what you are reading.

This book was not like some of the poetry that is too much for me. 

I am just going to say it up front this collection was utterly mesmerizing and is completely beautifully written.  It is a cohesive collection  of poems that had a meaning for me in almost every single one.    I reviewed the pdf, so I did not get the tactile part of the art actually in my hands.  However even without that the artistry stands on fine ground digitally.    The collection reads perfectly all together and also individually. 

My mind was absorbed in writing and the nature and the themes "The stories we tell." I found it to be an elevating read and personally grounding in the words and some of the  plain and simple truths of our human existence and connection to nature and the inanimate world. 

I became engrossed in thought about the stories we tell for people to understand, and how we can not actually land that story because it can and most likely will morph along the way -  out of our control in our very short existence. 

It has stunning, creative and thought provoking artwork with a touch of hand writing, and photos of a bust that reoccur throughout the book.  I didn't seem to "get it" until as I was watching this bust as a part of everything in the universe and the connectivity of everything in life.  By the end of the book it was alive and thinking along with me.   It showed up for me in the journey into this book.  I was not alone.

My favorite parts: ( I will only pick two

"You are
an origami box
in a soft rain.

Who turned you over 
and over - running a
bone folder along
your once-open body
to close you in
on yourself?"

"And when the Storm passes
it will have dropped lizards
from faraway lands 
into your lap"

I have no regrets on reading this book except I don't have it in my hands, that I did not read it outside, or on a mountain or at the coffee shop.   I will be reading this over and over again. 

About The  Book

Impermanence by Ren Powell
A Mad Orphan Lit. Publication
A Conceptual Multimedia Artwork:
42 Poems
Plaster/paper mache bust (video) and photography
Acrylic Monoprints
Moroccan handmade paper (hardcover)

"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 and was photographed 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, well, this is what happens when we try to plan our stories. Isn’t it?"

Double-Needle Coptic Stitching
(note: this intentionally loose stitch allows for an open-back and “lay flat” binding)
15 X 20 cm, 64 pages
Text block: 160 gsm acid-free, ethically resourced paper
Limited series of 10
April 2021
120 EURO plus shipping.
Ships from Norway.
Paperback facsimiles available at
for 15 USD plus shipping. (link includes preview)


“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 and novelist

“... 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


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 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.


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 
Ren Powell can be reached at 
Twitter as @madorphanlit 
Insta as @madorphanlit_poetry 

To hear a reading:

Thank you Serena @ Poetic Book Tours for the opportunity to read such a fine book. 


  1. Thank you for being on the blog tour for this one. I knew this would be up your alley!


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