Monday, January 4, 2021

Ren (Katherine) Powell : My Writing Day


I’ve been a writer in seasons since my first book was published in 1999. In Norway, writers turn out two books a year as a rule. I don’t. Finding balance has been difficult with kids, with a PEN job, with a teaching job (that I happen to love). But I’ve learned to make room for it all… and be patient with myself when things take time.

I’m a creature that thrives with routines and rituals.

5.15 a.m.: Leaving the phone, I fill a travel mug with coffee.

This time of year, I pull a snowsuit over my long underwear, grab the leash, and walk Leonard to the park and back.

This time of year, we walk in the moonlight, or towards the spill of the silly headlight I wear on my forehead. Back home, I feed the hound, pull on my trail shoes, and…

6.00 a.m. I run with E. along the lake. April through October I take photos on the runs. Photography-interval training. But this time of year, I focus on the crows’ chatter and the ducks’ laughter that, on my more morose mornings - I would swear – mocks us from the inky void that in the summertime is just the lake.

In case you’re wondering, E. is my husband. Leonard is a now-pacifist foxhound who was badly hurt by barbed wire while chasing a fox when he was just a puppy. He has a chest-full of scar tissue and doesn’t like running. He prefers to lie across my mat, or to pin one of my shoulders to it by sitting on me while I am trying to do yoga at…

6.45 a.m.  I do a yoga flow and meditation to sweep out the noise of the world – to clear the desk, so to speak.

7.30 a.m.: E. heads to work, and I start my working day playing with iambs in the shower.

7.45 – 9.15 a.m.: The daily diary entry, more coffee, and a poem.

Leonard lies on the floor of my little library, which makes me feel every bit like I’m living the dream for these 90 minutes each day.

From here the days vary radically. Most often this is where the phone interferes with my ability to think “for myself”.

I take the train in to teach, and then wrench writing time in where I can. Sometimes on the train. Sometimes between classes.

And sometimes – not at all.

During school vacations I can spend 13 hours at the computer typing, writing, and trying not to procrastinate with virtuous distractions like tweaking lesson plans.

Each night before bed I read someone else’s poems. I like to consciously connect to the world before I sleep. I like to think that while I’m sleeping, I’m assimilating the beautiful ideas articulated by all those who’ve come before me, or who walk on the other side of the globe. God knows the world is just too much for any one of us to take in all by ourselves from our limited perspectives.



Ren (Katherine) Powell is a poet and teaching artist. She is a native Californian – now a Norwegian citizen settled on the west coast of Norway. Ren has published six full-length collections of poetry and more than two dozen books of translations with traditional publishing houses. Her sixth poetry collection The Elephants Have Been Singing All Along was published in 2017 by Wigestrand forlag. Ren is currently focusing on handbound poetry collections and mixed media experimentation. Her website is and she is @nothingbutmeta4 on Twitter.

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