A new way of writing …

«Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.»
— Voltaire
 
 
«It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.»
— Voltaire

Several years ago I began asking questions about how literature will change as a response to digitalization, AR technology, people reading on the go, increased multilingualism due to immigration etc. My theory was that fiction (especially novels) would become shorter, written in sections so that readers “on the go” could easily read and pick up on successive passages in books on metros and buses etc., with less academic language, with more foreign language phrases and passages in order to mimic our new international society, and with more “cinematic” writing. I got no response. I then began writing books in that way: Three-Legged Waltz, Le Paradis, Tunnel at the End of Time, 2014, Entre Nous et Eux, and finally Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo. In each of these books I have used unusual writing techniques in attempts to create new literary experiences that are outside of standard and traditional rules of writing — all eventually building up to a virtual reality and real time experience where the Reader is an active participant in the literary process. I have been fortunate to have had publishers who have afforded me these creative freedoms.

Today, I was asked to take part in research about how authors experience digitalization in our industry. One of the questions asked is if authors think that future digitalized books will be written differently, eg. shorter etc.

Welcome late-comers! Researchers are always asking questions authors, artists and philosophers have already pondered and begun working on.

THE FUTURE OF LITERATURE.

The future of literature is neither paperbacks nor Kindle books. We have journeyed from writing on cave walls to papyrus to printed books to audio books to digital books … and the increased pace of literary development is evident in both rapidly changing styles of writing (i.e. towards that which is better suited to meet the demands of modern living) and in the amazing new technologies as regards communication advances. Tomorrow’s books will not be read with the eyes and mind alone, but rather experienced in 4D. Perhaps we will step inside of cubicles or spheres, or simply activate wall-less interactive zones whereby we can experience novels and other stories with all of our senses. Related technology is already being used today to provide experiences of heightened virtual reality. The modern libraries in Oslo and other cities look nothing like libraries most of us remember from our childhood – they are interactive, rely largely on digitalized and computerized information and literature etc.

The future of literature is interactive and directly experiential. It is therefore that I strive to make my poetry and prose cinematic. This is similar to my philosophy of art: to create paintings that enable the viewer to participate in the experience, to be able to “walk right into” the canvas and, together with the artist, recreate a new experience through recollection and creative thinking.

Over-descriptive and tedious long novels which require using a dictionary alongside the book are soon an old memory. The combinations of words and images, speed and rhythm etc. are more important in creating an interactive and cinematic literary experience.

The inclusion of foreign languages helps to duplicate the real life experience of hearing known and unknown words and sounds around us, thus adding to the richness of immersion through triggered associations, memories and thoughts within the Reader. It is not necessary to understand each and every word, as we do not have 100% comprehension in any Language (neither as Readers or in active Life). In my literature it is not only the meanings of words that is important, but also the way they are combined and work together at various velocities that creates triggers of pictures and memories in the Reader. I do not tell the «passive» Reader a story. I invite the Reader to co-create the experience in his/her own Mind through cinematic associations in real time virtual reality. I experiment with these elements all the time. It is a new way of writing.

Many of my novels are set in the future; this in order to bridge the fast-paced technological developments of the present with the possible/probable future. In this way they are studies of the adjustments and processes of today against a more stubborn constant: human behavioral adaptation, the search for politico-social freedom and individual expression, and dynamics of communication. This is the reason that many of my books are multilingual: it is both the reality today on the internet, the bus, the cellphone, the metro etc., as well as the communication of the future as presented in science fiction films set just a few decades from now. As time passes, languages also evolve … and that has always been the case.

Examples of my works that are multilingual include “Le Paradis”, “2014: the life and adventures of an incarnated angel”, “The tunnel at the end of time”, “Gaytude”, “Entre Nous et Eux”, “Three-legged Waltz” and “Jisei”. “2014” and “The tunnel at the end of time” even showcase a made-up language from another star system and the language of “angels”/star warriors. I have been very fortunate indeed that my primary publisher Cyberwit.net has had the foresight and courage to allow me to publish experimental books that present new styles of writing and to write “for and in” both the present and the future. Thank you Karunesh Kumar Agrawal!

REVIEW BY DR. ISAGANI R. CRUZ, THE PHILIPPINES:

The Tunnel at the End of Time is a masterful symphony of languages, religions, cultures, and literary techniques, all journeying to one inevitable destination: the individual wrestling with self. Covering our most human to our most divine urges and activities, the poetic, science fictional, experimental, even cinematic book leads us through words to what is beyond or behind words: the inscrutable mystery of our own being or, more precisely since the book revels in Emptiness, our non-being. In the process of stripping away the several skins that we use to protect our inner selves and to keep us from exercising our freedom to live a full life, the book also comments on writing itself, turning itself inside out, so to speak, so that we are forced as readers to become the writers themselves, merging our selves with theirs without meaning to and without remembering the meaning that we wanted to find, finding ourselves apparently in the future but actually in the present, or even more precisely, in the past, as time stops for us. In the end, the future humans, aliens, and angels turn out to be really us today, as we find ourselves aliens within ourselves, alienated not from the world as lesser writers would have put it, but from ourselves, as only the truly alive realize, perhaps as only angels really know. For those less inclined towards philosophy, the book offers gripping suspense, continuous action, and provocative scenes; the narrative scaffolding, however, is there only to lead readers to deeper levels of reading. I recommend this book to everyone honest enough to admit that we do not know ourselves or that we are not just nothing, but perhaps even Nothingness itself. Have fun, but be warned!

– Isagani R. Cruz, Professor Emeritus, De La Salle University, Manila

Celebrate Science Fiction: that very special place – where scientists and authors collaborate and inspire one another to new perspectives, possibilities and solutions. Yesterday’s sci-fi novel or film is often tomorrow’s reality. That is no coincidence.
— Adam Donaldson Powell

Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.
— Isaac Asimov

 

UNDER THE SHIRTTAILS OF ALBERT RUSSO — an alternative biography.

My latest “experiment” with new forms of writing for our contemporary age moved beyond language challenges (in both English, French and Spanish), structural challenges of combining prose and poetry, and more, to challenge the rather strict academic adherence to the “Boswellian biography” model, which I personally find outdated and cumbersome. In my own “alternative biography” I discarded all notions of writing a slavish detailed version of Albert Russo’s Wikipedia page and curriculum vitae, and I instead used the maximum 200-book pages at my disposition to redefine and modernize biographical approach. In my book I chose the most significant of Russo’s almost 100 published books (including novels, short story and poetry collections, essays, photography books and more) and the most pivotal life experiences in his almost eighty years of living and working on three continents on the planet to serve as the foundation of a journey inside of (and under the shirttails) Albert Russo. All the while I provide somewhat lengthy passages from some of his best books as illustrations of both his writing themes, techniques and styles, but also as the framework for interviews and questions to the author (often of a most intimate nature) which allow the Reader to personally know “what makes Albert Russo” tick as a personality and author/artist by sitting in the back seat on a ride through the countryside of Russo’s life memories. At times it is I who is driving, and at other times Russo himself seems to be behind the wheel with his opinions and rantings which I challenge only to gain more insight into the whats and whys of his meanings, but never (as one critic of the book has desired) to pass any judgment or opinion of my own. By the end of the book the Reader has an incredible knowledge of Russo and his work, as well as the most important events in his personal and professional life; i.e. according to Russo himself — and not to any academic or Wikipedia editor that insists on a year-by-year listing of all events and details from birth onwards. This book was an incredible feat with an unusal approach and writing techniques, including interviews, epistomology, reprints of Russo’s literary works etc.

No literary form should be sacred and rigid forever. In our fast-paced digital age we crave entertainment, knowledge, personal involvement, the ability to leave a book and return to the story easily whether we find reading time on a metro, a bus or lying in bed waiting to fall asleep … and we want a book that is easily read and to-the-point when necessary without literary masturbation or grandstanding by the author.

ENTRE NOUS ET EUX

Entre Nous et Eux is my LGBTQ multilingual “tour de force”, featuring stories, poems, a novella and a novel — primarily in English, but also with a good deal of French and Spanish. In this book I appeal to the internationality of LGBTQ issues and to the growing multilingualism in our globalised environment. It is my LGBTQ follow-up to the award-winning French-English “Gaytude”, co-written with Albert Russo.

Gaytude

jiseilarge

JISEI

Another book with an unusual literary format is Jisei. Here I link together daily prose poems about living with AIDS in order to give insight into the mental processes involved with facing the mundane qualities of Life and Death. These are written in journal format, and in several languages in order to emphasize the universality of the personal experience presented: life with HIV/AIDS.

ALTERNATIVE REALITY AND LITERATURE:

I know that a few of you are wondering where I am headed with my Mixed Reality future books ideas. Since my last post I have written to Dr. Jerald, VR-expert, and asked for some general reactions to my futuristic ideas. He wrote me back shortly afterwards. Here is my email to him:

Dear Dr. Jason Jerald,

I am an elderly author and artist in Oslo, Norway who is reading your book “The VR Book: Human-Centered Design for Virtual Reality” with great interest. If find it to be very inspirational and informative.

I know little about VR, AR or MR other than what I have been able to read on the internet, and now in your excellent book. I am trying to say that I am not a “techie”. I have, however, had an idea / a vision of another way of writing and experiencing literary prose which is more non-linear and more interactive with the reader, and which includes his/her own memories and experiences etc. I would love to write a full-scale MR novel; along the lines of theater plays with alternative endings or video games with multiple endings — this in order to more fully enable the reader to write stories together with me. I already do quite a bit towards that end in my books but my dream is to escape the physical book altogether and enable re-creation of stories with mixed reality/five dimensional technologies.

I do not have the technical language to explain this idea properly but please bear with me. This idea of moving literature off of paper and ebook formats into a Mixed Reality experience does not merely concern the quantity of descriptive and connecting words vs. the more sensual and cinematic experiences created by playing with their combinations and juxtapositions etc. In my thinking, mixed reality necessitates usage of and partial reliance upon symbols, tonalities, silences and coded triggers. These are all already in use in literature, art, music, etc., but their significance will be even more pronounced in mixed reality art and literature. Mixed reality gives us the possibility of personal transference of the author’s images into and then back again from the Reader’s own memory — based on real “perceived” recollections, dreams and fantasies. These may be in the forms of old photographs, bits of recordings, smells, a newspaper page, a paragraph from a textbook etc.

Many of these symbols are known archetypes, and others come perhaps even from other yet unidentified sources. They each have their own vibratory patterns, light and sound frequencies and collective-individual personal interpretations, associations and meanings. I use and create
archetypes, symbols, triggers, speeded up and slowed down sequences etc. often
in my literature and art, including some symbols from the Universal Language of Light: (see the
Universal Language of Light).

So, how will these Mixed Reality books of the future work? As I see it, there certainly will be many learning and entertainment system modules developed — ranging from the open room “Blade Runner” and “Matrix” ‘direct-brain’(?) communication types to the current glove, glasses or headset alternatives. The one that I envision for literary prose (novels, novellas etc.) entails a holographic cylinder in which the reader-actor is inside … dressed in a form-fitting lightweight skin with nerve-ending filaments sewn into it at strategic body points, and wearing contact lenses. The “story” is encoded into a computer with trigger points at which certain things occur, complete with sounds, smells, emotional and physical reactions etc. And then there is also another computer program which interfaces with the story — one which is a robotic encyclopedia of various generic associations, symbols, codes etc. as well as historical, collective and personal “memories” (various data, photographs etc.) which may be accessed. All of these elements work together to enable the “reader” to co-create the story — even choosing from alternative or multiple endings. These computer programs communicate with the holographic cylinder so that the individual inside is actually embedded inside of the “brain”. A long novel can thus be “read”/acted out in a fraction of the time needed today.

My question to you, Sir, is: is this at all feasible? I have this picture in my mind so clearly, and it has been something that I have been envisioning for decades. My own style of writing has also greatly changed to mimic the cinematic and dizzying qualities of such an experience.

Best regards
Adam Donaldson Powell

And here is his gracious response:

Hi Adam. Thanks for reading the book and I’m happy to hear it is inspiring for you.

I agree completely that for MR symbols, tonalities, silences, etc can (and should!) be used to make experiences more engaging.

I like your holographic cylinder idea! That is probably a ways off, but like books a cool thing about VR is that you can make it all up and provide people with experiences that aren’t yet feasible. So while the feasibility of your ideas are probably quite a ways off, you could simulate all of it within VR. Then when the tech catches up then people would have a better idea of how it might actually work. Or you could argue you wouldn’t need to wait for the tech / physical interface to catch up since simulating it could be just as good.

Jason

Recent thoughts on virtual reality as literature of the future:

The concept of reality has mostly been rooted in the physical reality state of one moment — frozen in time and space. It is certainly not “real” and not the way we perceive ourselves or our environments. Therefore, multiple alternative realities are perhaps often easier to relate to.

All literature consists of stories and dramas — short or long-winded ones, and all rely upon words as abstractions which the mind converts into images, sounds, smells, touch etc. against a backdrop of the readers’ own personal life learnings and experiences. Cinematic and VR-writing changes up that process and frees the mind from most of the word abstractions. An otherwise long and wordy novel can now be fully digested using all our senses plus with the added benefit of interactive reading and co-creation of the story along with the author/designer. We already have alternative endings in plays and films. This requires authors and designers to break down the abstract ideas of the words into experiences which the reader can access or reject as s/he pleases. This is a new frontier and era. Read the Scientific American article about how the brain perceives words HERE!

The written texts will have to be reconstructed as images, sounds, smells, touch etc. with triggers. That is why I write prose as poetry — emphasizing color, intensity and speed of word combinations over lots of words etc. Most of the words get lost in reading so why not simplify the conversion to images?

I highly recommend this book. May it inspire several authors, artists, thinkers and scientists to work together in creating this fantastic new reality. But all advancements begin with visions and dreams by those courageous enough to persevere and demonstrate the creativity and ability to realize that which — to others — may be unimaginable. If you can imagine it then you can simulate it … and make your visions into reality.

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ADAM DONALDSON POWELL – WIKIPEDIA NORGE

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo: an alternative biography, l’Aleph — Sweden, ISBN 978-91-7637-401-6, © Wisehouse 2017, Sweden.

Entre Nous et Eux: contes de fées pour adultes, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-93-85945-77-9, © 2017, India.

Jisei: death poems and daily reflections by a person with AIDS”, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-403-2, © 2013, India.

The tunnel at the end of time” (co-written with Rick Davis and Azsacra Zarathustra), Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-160-4, © 2010, India.

Malerier og fotokunst, a short 38-page retrospective overview of some of Adam Donaldson Powell’s best known oil paintings and photographic art works”. Published by Cyberwit.net as a special limited and numbered full-color, soft cover edition (55 copies only), ISBN 978- 81-8253-154-3, India, © 2009.

GAYTUDE: a poetic journey around the world, co-authored together with Albert Russo 1[1], bilingual (French and English), gay poetry, 334 pages, Xlibris, ISBN 978-1-4363-6395-2, 2009, USA 6 [2].

2014: the life and adventures of an incarnated angel, 135 pages, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-118-5, 2008, India.

Critical Essays, literary and photobook criticism by Adam Donaldson Powell and Dr. Santosh Kumar 2[3], 108 pages, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-110-9, 2008, India.

Le Paradis (Paradise), 80 pages, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-103-1, 2008, India. Inkluderer bilag med symboler fra Universelle Lysspråket, som opplevd av Laila Holand.

Rapture: endings of space and time (86 pages), Cyberwit,net, ISBN 978-81-8253-083-6, 2007, India.

Three-legged Waltz, (80 pages), Cyberwit.net, ISBN 81-8253-058-X, 2006, India.

Collected Poems and Stories, (175 pages), Cyberwit.net, ISBN 81-8253-028-8, 2005, India.

Arcana and other archetypes, (special limited edition – hardback collection of poetry), AIM Chapbooks ANS, 2001, Norway (now out-of-print).

Notes of a Madman, (hardback collection of poetry), Winston-Derek Publishers, Inc., 1987, ISBN 1-55523-054-7, USA (now out-of-print).

MY AMAZON.COM AUTHOR PAGE: HERE!

2389ECFE-7F46-4E2D-BD0E-23B579D37284

MY CYBERWIT.NET AUTHOR PAGE: HERE!

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Treat yourself or someone you love to two great reads …

“Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo” modernizes the concept of the biography away from Boswellian “every ladder rung is vital” structure, and straight to “the good and meaningful stuff — that defines who a person is … and why.”

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

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With laser-like precision, Adam Donaldson Powell bores into Albert Russo’s psyche, while in parallel he analyzes the work of a lifetime. But more often than not, there is a process of cross-fertilization, whether it is clearly identified or on the sidelines. He interviews his subject, not always in a linear fashion, scanning the latter’s important stages of life: there is first Central, Eastern – the former Belgian Congo (now, DRCongo), Ruanda-Urundi (now, the two countries of Rwanda and Burundi) and Southern Africa – Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, where the author was raised, completing high school at the Interracial Athénée of Usumbura (now Bujumbura), studying with European, Congolese, Hutu, Tutsi, Asian and American classmates, both in French and in English (he also went to an all-boys’ school in Salisbury, now called Harare). We then find him in the Big Apple at the age of seventeen, attending New York University, after which, he pursues his studies in German at the Collegium Platinum in Heidelberg. The subject is asked very intimate questions about his private life, with which he is faced for the first time. And he reveals facts he never thought could one day be thrust into the open. But still, he complies, candidly. Mr. Powell illustrates with excerpts of the author’s novels, poems and short stories, which are all either clearly or subconsciously related to Albert Russo’s life, as well as photos, letters and book reviews from Albert Russo’s personal archives. Mentioned are his AFRICAN QUATUOR, the collected poems in the CROWDED WORLD OF SOLITUDE, volume two, his collected stories and essays in the CROWDED WORLD OF SOLITUDE, volume one, and finally, his GOSH ZAPINETTE! series, of which David Alexander writes: “… Be warned, Zapinette’s gems of insouciant wit tend to become infectious. This wise-child’s deceptively worldly innocence takes the entire gamut of human endeavor in its compass. Hardly anyone or anything escapes unscathed. Michael Jackson,Vittorio de Sica, Freddy Mercury, Mao Zedong, Bill and Hill, the Pope, Fidel Castro, and even Jesus of Nazareth all come under Zapinette’s delightfully zany fire as she “zaps” from topic to topic in an irrepressible flux. As the century of the double zeros is with us, we have seen the future and the future is sham. As a healthy dose of counter-sham, Zapinette should be on every brain-functional person’s reading list.” After America, the subject moves to Northern Italy where he will reside nine years, then to Brussels. He spends half of his life in Paris, France, before finally settling in Tel Aviv Israel. When asked what his roots are, he replies that he is a humanist born in Africa, with his virtual roots being the languages which he speaks: English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, vernacular Swahili, as well as those he can only read: Portuguese and Dutch. He will soon add Hebrew. Those cherished languages are much more than forms of speech, they are his planet, from which he extracts much of the sap of his writing. So, don’t be shy. Get Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo. See order details HERE!

originals of letters + journals re AR 1

DO WATCH ‪”The Age of the Pearl”, extracted from my new biography “Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo”

READER COMMENTS … regarding UNDER THE SHIRTTAILS of ALBERT RUSSO:

UNDER THE SHIRTTAILS of ALBERT RUSSO ‘can perhaps be likened to skipping a small rock across a pond – creating ripples and reverberations which both reflect the greater omnipotence of the water and temporarily alter its periphery and identity.’ Such is Adam Donaldson Powell the master weaver behind the literary tapestry that is the life & times with a view into poems, novels and picture gallery of one brilliant international award-winning multilingual poet, novelist, essayist, historian and photographer – Albert Russo – a man with a claim to no country yet a citizen of many soils – in his sensitively scripted yet profoundly penetrating work unveiled as ‘an alternative biography’.

— Jeanette Skirvin

This biography crowns five decades of my father’s very prolific writing. Both my brother Alex and myself are immensely proud of our father’s literary achievement. From his very deep insights on the history of Africa, to the birth and struggles of the Israeli state, his poems and immensely entertaining short stories, humorous novels for teenagers, short stories covering the complexities of human nature, there isn’t one topic that my father hasn’t masterfully addressed in his writings.

— Tatiana Russo

We have the pleasure to see all the beauties of literature, poetry and photography of Albert Russo in Adam Donaldson Powell’s brilliant and memorable book “Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo”. Russo’s profound and well-ordered imagination helps him to create great works of literature. Russo never writes his great poems and novels according to any mechanic rule. He has perfected his writings due to “the existential qualm for which my heritage is responsible: Africa, Judaism and Italy. They exist and coexist in cycles, in a fashion so inchoate that I am never quite sure which will take the upper hand.” Powell, the immortal poet famous for his classic “Three-legged Waltz”, points out that Russo “began life as an outsider; the offspring of refugees to Africa from Nazi and fascist persecution then became an outcast via his self-proclaimed ‘gaytude’.” No doubt, this fact has provided the perfection of tone in all his creative endeavors, and this will certainly entice all readers. The true essence of Russo’s writings and photography is revealed by Powell in this unique book. Adam Donaldson Powell’s latest powerful book “Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo” is a tour de force in biography and literary criticism.

— Dr. Santosh Kumar, Editor, Cyberwit.net

​To avoid any doubts or confusion, this book by Adam Donaldson Powell is NOT just a biography of the life of Albert Russo, nor is it a synoptic overview of his massive and prolific collection of works of prose, poetry, and photography. This book is something far more than either of these literary vehicles could ever be. Through literally decades of conversations, correspondence, and collaboration between these two very talented authors/artists, Adam Powell gives us a glimpse into not only the very diverse heritage and globe-trotting life and experiences of Albert Russo, but also a glimpse into his very psyche and incredible intellect. In other words, this book lays bare for the world to see what makes Albert Russo one of the few true renaissance men of our times. Russo’s collection of works bridges gulfs of heritage, culture, philosophy, and more – often with more than a hint of his sometimes quirky and off-beat sense of humor. For anyone who has ever read and enjoyed ANY of Russo’s works, this book is a must-read to fully understand the man behind the true art of his words, ideas, and imagery.

​– J. Richard Davis, B.A., J.D.

 

Adam Donaldson Powell, author

 

 

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Review of Adam Donaldson Powell’s book “Entre Nous et Eux”, by C. Richard Mathews, USA.

Adam Donaldson Powell’s new collection of works, Entre Nous et Eux, displays his multiple talents and concerns in a series of brilliant and engaging pieces. Powell is an activist, essayist, fiction writer, visual artist, poet, who writes in four languages, though English is the predominant one in this volume and an inability to read French, Norwegian or Spanish will not detract from a reader’s understanding and appreciation of any of the pieces.

The book is divided into four sections: poetry, a novella titled “Entre Nous”, a short story titled “Death Poem” and another, longer novella called “The Stalker”. While the works deal with many themes, the overriding one for this reader was the issue of how societal and political forces affect — often adversely — an individual’s development, sometimes to the point that she or he does not or cannot understand or accept who she/he is. A major factor in this, it is suggested, is the inability of others in her/his family and in greater society to respect and accept a person’s differences (the “other”).

The book begins with Powell’s great strength: his poetry. Interestingly, in the three works of fiction poems appear as well. In both the stand-alone poetry and the fiction, poems allow Powell to focus the reader’s attention immediately on his themes and concerns. The first group of poems involves children in a presumably Western European (Parisian?) context and their shock at how the world interacts with their innocence: a child playing hopscotch confronting a pedophile, a young girl taunted because she has “two mothers”, a young hijab-wearing Muslim girl also subject to jibes, problems for a child of “color”, a presumably Muslim boy’s trauma at the hands of police after talking of ISIS, the treatment of gypsies and their plight and ostracism, the shock of exploding bombs in an unnamed war zone.

Although much of the poetry deals with “social issues” in one sense or the other, there are purely lyrical moments as well, such as the poem “Jeux d’Eau”.

At a number of points the issue of suicide is introduced: the inability of the characters to accept themselves or others’ perceptions of them. Thus, in the first novella, “Entre Nous.”, a friend of one of the main characters dies of an overdose (deliberate?) days after they’ve had sex with each other. And the beautiful short story “Death Poem”, concerning two young Japanese men, involves the presumed suicide of a father over his son’s homosexuality, and the son’s own subsequent suicide himself. As noted above, the use of poetry, and references to poetry, permeate Powell’s fiction writing and in this moving story he introduces us to a specific Japanese form of poetry relevant to the taking of one’s life.

Both novellas involve casts of characters that are followed through some years of their lives. “Entre Nous.” is presented partially in an epistolary form. The story involves the interaction of several gay friends and various sexual escapades in a number of Western cities — Paris, London, New York — that the author is obviously familiar with. As in some of the poetry, especially the collection of interlocking erotic poems “tu sais je vais….t’enculer (love letters)”, the writing about sex is explicitly detailed, a means for the author to “épater la bourgeoisie” in the mode of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Genet and other French writers. Their cumulative effect is, ultimately, powerful and meaningful. These passages are part of his subtle analysis throughout of various types of love and physical and emotional attraction.

The second, longer novella, “The Stalker”, concerns a young woman and her lover, a transgender man who, at one point discovers that he may be “a lesbian in a man’s body” (294). The overriding theme is one of identity — despite society’s pressures, finding it or creating it and then having the flexibility to change it or allow it to modulate as circumstances and feelings may urge or dictate.

The reader should not miss the great amount of humor and wit, and pure literary pleasure, in Powell’s writing which, as in Proust, may be overlooked if one focuses merely on “the story line” or themes. Be ready for a wonderful turn-of-phrase, or the startling juxtaposition of images. For example, in “Une Lettre d’Une Prostitue…” the letter writer states, “J’aimerais parfois me mettre dans le peau de quelqun d’autre…” Or, “mots doux et traitres a la fois…” (37). Or: “lips part revealing your lizard tongue” (63). Or: “blood-red sugary tension of domestic rape” (55). Or: “the relentless fantasy is more than the sum of reality’s individual parts”. (78)

Especially delightful are the “echoes” one finds between different parts of the works through the use of literary devices similar to Wagner’s leitmotifs. Thus, there is a reference early in “Entre Nous.” to Donald O’Connor and Marilyn Monroe singing “a man chases a girl (until she catches him)” and then much later the reader comes upon a scene of Karol/Mariusz showing his poetry to a closeted priest in which he has written “I delight in chasing straight boys until they catch me” (172).

It should be noted that in both his poetry and fiction Powell’s writing style is clear and precise without being pedestrian or boring. It is a style that is able to draw in and engage the reader quietly and without showiness, leaving one with a sense of pleasure, even when the subjects at hand are very serious ones.

Powell’s book is highly recommended for its many pure literary pleasures but also for its profound insights into aspects of modern life that are often obfuscated or ignored by other writers and media in our contemporary world oversaturated with often meaningless written and visual distractions.

C. Richard Mathews
New York-based art historian, writer and attorney

Recension du recueil ‘Entre Nous et Eux’ de Adam Donaldson Powell,

Le nouveau recueil de Adam Donaldson Powell intitulé Entre Nous et Eux reflète les talents multiples de l’auteur et comprend une série de textes aussi brillants que jubilatoires. Powell, l’activiste, est à la fois écrivain, poète, essayiste, peintre et photographe.  En outre, il écrit en anglais, sa langue maternelle, mais également en français, en norvégien et en espagnol.  Le lecteur découvrira dans ce volume des textes dans ces quatre langues, ce qui, dans notre monde hyper-connecté est encore une rareté, mais en même temps une grande richesse.

Ce volume est divisé en quatre parties: Poésie, une nouvelle intitulée “Death Poem”, et deux courts romans portant les titres suivants: “Entre Nous” et “The Stalker”.

Alors que ces textes évoquent de nombreux thèmes, le fil conducteur est celui des effets de la société et de la politique sur le développement de l’individu, au point où celui-ci ne comprend plus ou n’accepte tout simplement pas qui il est ou ce qu’il risque de devenir.  L’auteur suggère que les autres, c’est-à-dire, sa famille ou la société dans laquelle il évolue, est inapte à respecter, voire à accepter sa différence.

Le livre a pour prémices la poésie de Powell, poésie dans laquelle il excelle. Ses textes de fiction sont eux aussi parsemés de poèmes, plus ou moins longs. Les premiers poèmes traitent de l’enfance ayant pour cadre une capitale européenne, qui pourrait être Paris.  Et des conséquences, insidieuses ou cruelles, que le monde alentour peut avoir sur eux. Voyez cette gosse jouant à la marelle et qui s’éloigne précautionneusement d’un pédophile, cette autre que l’on moque parce qu’elle a ‘deux mères’, ou cette jeune musulmane malmenée à cause du hijab qu’elle porte. Que dire aussi de ce garçon basané que la police menotte dès qu’il prononce le mot Daesch, du traitement odieux que subissent les gitans, de leur ostracisme. L’auteur évoque également le choc que produisent les bombes explosant dans des zones de guerre.

Tandis que nombreux sont les poèmes traitant de problèmes de société, ils possèdent tous cette touche lyrique si propre à Powell. ‘Jeux d’Eau’ en est un parfait exemple.

La problématique du suicide apparaît ci et là: certains personnages ont du mal à s’accepter, d’autant plus lorsque leur entourage les rejette.

Ainsi, dans le premier roman, ‘Entre Nous’, l’ami de l’un des protagonistes meurt à la suite d’une overdose (peut-être délibérément), quelques jours après que les deux ont fait l’amour ensemble.

Dans la magnifique nouvelle ‘Death Poem’, qui met en scène deux jeunes hommes japonais, le père de l’un d’eux se suicide, apparemment à cause de l’homosexualité de son fils, lequel à son tour met fin à ses jours. Que ce soit dans ses textes de fiction ou dans sa poésie, Powell évoque le suicide en utilisant des éléments particuliers de la poésie japonaise. Y percevrait-on l’ombre de Mishima ?

Les deux romans mettent en scène des protagonistes sur des tranches de vie. ‘Entre Nous’ est raconté en partie sous forme épistolaire. On y parle d’amis gays, de leur interaction, de leurs expériences sexuelles vécues dans certaines grandes villes occidentales, telles que Paris, Londres ou New York, villes que l’auteur connaît bien. Powell, n’ayant pas froid aux yeux, n’hésite pas à écrire des ‘lettres d’amour’ contenant des mots crus, comme par exemple: “tu sais je vais….t’enculer”. Et cela pour ‘épater la galerie’, à l’instar de Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine – qui, à l’époque écrivaient sous des pseudonymes -, Genet, ainsi que d’autres écrivains français. Mais là, il ne s’agit pas uniquement de subterfuges, ces vers érotiques, voire pornographiques, participent de l’analyse subtile de ce qui constitue l’amour pluriel, qu’il s’agisse de la simple attraction physique et/ou des émotions qui peuvent en découler.

Le second roman, ‘The Stalker’, qui est plus long que l’autre, est l’histoire d’une jeune femme et de son amant, un homme trans-genre, qui se demande s’il peut être “une lesbienne dans le corps d’un homme”. Le thème principal ici est celui de l’identité qui, envers et contre tout, tente de s’affirmer et de trouver un équilibre.

Malgré la gravité des sujets abordés, le lecteur pourra apprécier, tout au long du volume, la veine humoristique et spirituelle de l’auteur, à l’instar d’un Proust qui se ‘moque’ gentiment de certains de ses personnages. Powell joue avec les mots et s’amuse à juxtaposer des images, comme dans ‘La lettre d’une prostituée’, où l’auteur écrit: “J’aimerais parfois me mettre dans la peau de quelqu’un d’autre…”, ou encore, “mots doux et traitres à la fois…”. D’autres  exemples me viennent à l’esprit, tels que “lips part revealing your lizard tongue” , ”blood-red sugary tension of domestic rape”, ou encore, ”the relentless fantasy is more than the sum of reality’s individual parts”.

L’on trouve des passages particulièrement jouissifs tout au long de cette oeuvre si singulière, rappelant les leitmotifs de Wagner. L’un des personnages écoute un ancien vinyle de Donald O’Connor et de Marilyn Monroe chantant “a man chases a girl (until she catches him)”. Plus loin, il y a une scène dans laquelle Karol/Mariusz montre l’un de ses poèmes à un prêtre, où il écrit: “I delight in chasing straight boys until they catch me”.

Dans ce livre, qu’il s’agisse de poésie ou de prose, le style est clair, précis, et à la fois engageant, sans jamais être pompeux, même lorsque l’auteur traite de sujets graves.

Cette oeuvre mérite d’être lue pour diverses raisons. D’abord pour la belle phrase, un plaisir purement littéraire, ensuite parce que Powell aborde ici des thèmes de notre société contemporaine qui souvent sont, soit ignorés par d’autres écrivains et les média, soit négligés en raison de la quantité phénoménale de distractions vaines, aussi bien pseudo-littéraires que visuelles, que l’on nous bombarde quotidiennement.

C. Richard Mathews, historien de l’art, écrivain et avocat new yorkais

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