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Impermanence

June 18, 2021

I got a copy of Ren Powell’s volume of poetry, Impermanence, for a book tour and found it a very interesting book. The text interacts with photographs, both bits of larger, handwritten text and landscapes, many of them with a bust made of plaster and paper-mache, covered with what look like words, and posed in the middle of the natural scene. The pictures inform the text, and vice-versa.

Sometimes the larger, handwritten text repeats a line or two of the poem. I like the repetition of these lines:
“this moment
is past—so what
was joy
was grief
is story now”

The way the print is faded tells its own part of the story.

At other points, a photograph adds to what is said in the text of the poem:
“The mourning dove on the train’s messenger wire
watches the pasture—stories taking form
in her pea-sized brain in more frames-per-second
than you or I can process. How long is her morning?
How long her sunrise? Does she count the 144 legs
of the centipede before it crawls under the rotting log
for the day? How slowly does her hunger rise? And then,
what can she remember of yesterday’s fullness amidst it all?

The text on the photograph is additional; it says “the process crawls under the day.”

Sometimes the text of the poem is self-referential, like when it predicts that
“you’ll find yourself straddling
Continents and piecing together
Scraps: a found poetry collage
–this time too
–this time

with sharper edges now somehow, with edges
that don’t quite line up
a memory-quilt of impossibilities”

The afterword reveals that this book was conceived as a “meditation on the idea of impermanence. “ It’s an interesting poem made more interesting by the juxtaposition of handwritten text images and photographs from the Jaeren landscape of Norway.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2021 6:30 am

    Thank you so much for being on the blog tour for this collection. It’s inspiring and unique

    • June 21, 2021 9:38 am

      Thanks for making me aware of this book! It was fun to read.

  2. June 19, 2021 12:58 pm

    I really like those photographs and texts – makes it more alive and immediate somehow.

    • June 21, 2021 9:39 am

      It does, kind of like a peek into someone else’s train of thought as they walk in the woods.

  3. June 23, 2021 3:38 pm

    What a wonderful mixed media poetry collection. It sounds like it all works really well together and what you have shared is really beautiful

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  1. Impermanence by Ren Powell (Spring 2021) |

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