Intervju med Ren Powell

av admin sist endret 2022-11-16T11:50:07+01:00
Den 9.oktober 2003 sendte biblioteket ut en serie spørsmål til forfattere tilknyttet vestlandet. Spørsmålene er gjengitt i kortform.
Hvordan ser arbeidsdagen din ut?

I teach two days a week. On those days, I get up early to squeeze a half hour of free-writing in before work. The rest of the week, I try to work as much as possible while the kids are at school. (A lot of this “work” involves staring at the wall behind my computer screen). When I am in a productive phase, I block out the family with headphones and Baroque music and work through dinner, bedtimes and David Letterman.

Litt om bakgrunnen din?

The church played a prominent role in my early childhood, and the ritual aspects of language have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. Being an urban nomad, I was drawn to prayers, chants, nursery rhymes, and song lyrics because they provided a sense of community, and I experienced how diction, idioms and vocabulary can define subcultures—knowing all the words to “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog” might well have meant the difference between being accepted or ostracized by the right clique in the third grade!

I was encouraged by my grandparents to write letters and poems and can’t remember a time when I didn’t, or a time when I didn’t enjoy it.

Hvilken litterær tradisjon eller familie føler du deg beslektet med?

When I was ten I bought a used book at a garage sale: The Gift of Joy, by Helen Hayes. In it, she wrote that she misunderstood the bible quote, “and the Word was God”, taking it quite literally. I identified so much with Hayes’s love of language that I reasoned I was destined to become an actress, too. So, playwrights ranging from Aristophanes to Caryl Churchill followed on the heels of St. John.

I believe that my continued interest in theater and the works of performance artists like Karen Finley and Rachel Rosenthal make it difficult for me to classify my writing within a single literary tradition. We are bombarded by influences, and even if we make a conscious choice to follow one tradition, language is alive and naturally insidious.

Writing is an isolating endevour, and being an expatriate makes it even more difficult at times. I’m thankful for the WOMPO (WOmen’s POetry) listserv and the lively discussions moderated by Annie Finch. Because this is not a list that allows writers to post their own work, it maintains a collegial atmosphere (as opposed to becoming a support group). I also have a network of writers who have been good friends as well as good readers. I often joke that some of my most meaningful relationships are virtual, but then maybe that is appropriate for a writer. 

Hva driver deg til å skrive?

I definitely write for the joy of it. It doesn’t happen often, but I think it only has to happen once to someone—finding the perfect flow of sound and meaning that lets the gods speak. Yogis have studied mantras for centuries to find the perfect frequencies to reach the universal self—you can compare it to the practice of yoga, to Zen meditation, maybe even to the acts of an addict needing a fix (God knows, more than one writer has lost their day job, family or sanity). 

Kan du fortelle om noen store skriveopplevelser?

The most recent acceptance letter from a publisher is always a big deal—so is the most recent finished poem or play. And a pat on the back from a stranger is always a kick. 

Hvordan forholder du deg til begrepene ”biografi” og ”minne” i egen skriving?

All biographies are hearsay, and I love that, the impudence of it—a ballad cloaked in prose and psychoanalysis. A professor/poet once told me the days of confessional poets were over, that one had to mythologize experience before it became poetry. I believe that all our experiences are mythologized immediately: one only needs to have a sibling or a child to know that an experience is altered, however subtly, in the process of memory to fit each person’s unique system of beliefs. Every character I create is necessarily born of the biographies of people I’ve known (or been). Each character is a unconscious love letter or act of revenge.