Excerpts from the book: “Adam Donaldson Powell: The Making of a Poet”, by Dr. Santosh Kumar.



“There is no doubt that Powell, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, Randall Jarrell, and Delmore Schwartz are the most talented American poets of the modern age.” — Dr. Santosh Kumar, Allahabad University, 2010, from his book entitled: Adam Donaldson Powell: the making of a poet.

“Adam Donaldson Powell: The Making of a Poet”, a critical analysis of the published works of Adam Donaldson Powell. Order the book from Cyberwit.net: NOW!



The Cretan Myths in Collected Poems and Stories:
An Interpretation by Adam Donaldson Powell

Powell’s “Daedalus: an ancient epic for modern man” is “an epic reconstruction of the Cretan myths” (Powell 83). The question arises why Powell is employing the mythical mode in his poetry. Through symbolic means and Cretan myths Powell is trying to control “what is fearful and challenging within the self and the universe” (Feder 52). No doubt, the use of myth has therapeutic significance, as the use of myths by a poet has the “potential to contain violent and irrational forces that would otherwise be unleashed destructively” (Acheson 151). This shows that Powell is searching a new positive ideal to supply his spiritual needs. In the period of Romanticism, Daedalus came to denote the classic artist, a skilled mature craftsman, while Icarus symbolized the romantic artist, an undisputed prototype of the classic artist, whose impetuous, passionate and rebellious nature, as well as his defiance of formal aesthetic and social conventions, may ultimately prove to be self-destructive. Stephen Dedalus, in Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man envisages his future artist-self “a hawklike man flying above the waves”.

Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, suggests that Daedalus constructed the Labyrinth so cunningly that he himself could barely escape it after he built it (Quoted in Penelope 36). Daedalus built the labyrinth for King Minos, who needed it to imprison his wife’s son the Minotaur. The story is told that Poseidon had given a white bull to Minos so that he might use it as a sacrifice. Instead, Minos kept it for himself; and in revenge, Poseidon made his wife Pasiphaë lust for the bull. For Pasiphaë, Daedalus also built a wooden cow in which the queen hid herself so she could mate with the bull. She is the emblem of grotesque bestiality and the shocking excesses of female sensuality and deceit:

The creature,
Though unstirred by the Beauty of her dark curls,
Flawless skin and painted eyes,
Is completely transformed
In disposition by
The bovine façade
Of his own illusion.
(Seduction of the Beast 97)

The sole motive of her god-given lust is “womanly revenge / Through bitterness and degradation” (Pasiphae 94).

Pound aptly says, “There ought to be an active literature for if its literature be not active, a nation will die at the top (4-5).” Like T. S. Eliot and Pound, Powell too feels that poetry now requires a new outlook. Edwin Muir observes: “To Eliot and Pound around 1910 poetry seemed to have come to a dead end, and intense thought had to be given to it” (16). Powell in his modern interpretation of the Cretan myths has done a great service to the cause of poetry. Icarus was guilty of what the Greeks called “hubris”, or pride. He forgot that he was a mortal man and felt like he was a god, because he could fly. He forgot himself so far, that he flew too high and close to the sun’s burning rays, and the wax melted from his wings, causing him to plunge to his death by drowning. This may be compared to the myth of Prometheus, who stole fire from the sun to give it to men. His punishment was to be chained to a rock and “to have vultures gnaw at his innards.” Once again, a mortal man had dared to aspire to the power of the gods, and suffered the consequences.
By request of King Minos, Daedalus built a labyrinth on Crete to contain a monster called the Minotaur, half bull and half man. Later, for displeasing the king, Daedalus and his son Icarus were both confined in this labyrinth, which was so complex that even its creator could not find his way out. Powell aptly states:

But, for every inspiration
Of genius there is an
Accompanying consequence of ignorance;
and so it is that
He who constructs a labyrinth
Must invariably suffer confinement
Within the limits of karmic mortality
(Prologue 2: Chorus 88)

It appears that for Powell labyrinth is a symbol of hard path to God, and a meditative state as we forget the external world while walking among the turnings and intricate maze. A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth, “the intricate structure of / interconnecting passages” (Labyrinth 100) represents a journey to our own center to “suffer confinement”. Powell adds that the “confinement” or self-imposed exile of an artist should be “Within the limits of karmic mortality” so that the creative artist is again out into the world. Powell is perhaps reminding us that Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools. A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. We can walk it. It is a metaphor for life’s journey. It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to “That Which Is Within.”

Instead, Daedalus fashioned wings of wax and feathers so that he and his son could escape. He tells his son Icarus that he “feared mediocrity / More than imbalance. / For us, challenge was but / The means of attaining individuality; / A space unto ourselves” (“Daedalus 3: Elegy” 117). The most significant thing is “Excellence through solitude” (IBID). When Icarus flew too high — too near the sun — in spite of his father”s warnings, his wings melted, and he fell into the sea and drowned. His more cautious father flew to safety. By using this myth in his collection Collected Poems and Stories Powell reveals that Daedalus murdered his nephew Talus “in a fit of jealousy” (Powell 83). Daedalus’s soliloquy makes it clear: “You see, Talus- / I had no alternative but To do what I did” (“Murder at the Acropolis” 90).

Daedalus, the legendary artificer, has “cognizant, scientific mind” (“Daedalus 1: Escape from Athens” 91). Daedalus symbolizes classical artist different from his son Icarus, who represents romantic liberalism in art. With his wings of wax, Icarus tries to fly too high near the sun and pays the price, but a cautious Daedalus survives. Powel is suggesting that in the modern age all of us are caught in a maze, just as his Daedalus was. This is due to “foolish boasting of youth’ (“Rage: Daedalus” 89). The cultural institutions are a maze of corridors; postmodern writing is a maze of ‘no-man’s land’. A contemporary poet’s mind itself is a convoluted maze filled with ambition to achieve “the glory of invention” (“Prologue 2: Chorus” 88).

Life poses riddles at every turn for a creative artist with “inspiration of genius” (ibid). The only way out seems to be to soar above the “confinement”, as did Daedalus and his son. “Social acceptability and custom” (“Daedalus 1: Escape from Athens” 91) obstructs a creative artist, but he must fly high. “Pathetic empiricism” (“Ad Infinitum” 126), flight and fall seems to be the destiny of genius. Powell puts it most convincingly:

The carnage is reflected incessantly
Through the hall of mirrors that
We call history, for behind every
Great lust for significance lurks
A Daedalus
(Ad Infinitum 126)

Powell feels that an artist soars like Daedalus – “We soared like eagles” (“Daedalus 3 : Elegy” 117)- to escape restraints imposed by social and cultural institutions to find his own identity and spiritual awakening. No doubt, Powell provides a new interpretation to an ancient myth, which inspired Roman poet Ovid in his Metamorphoses and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

The didactic character of the myth of Icarus is obvious: the recklessness and thoughtlessness of young men who ignore the advice and experience of their parents, and their elders and betters in general, may have catastrophic effects on their lives. There are rules and laws to be obeyed. Icarus was asked not to fly close to the sun. Powell is suggesting that he was guilty of “hubris” or pride, and therefore he lost his life. While flying close to the sun, wax melted from his wings causing his death. This may be compared with Prometheus myth. Prometheus stole fire to give it to man. He was chained to a rock. Powell’s interpretation is that one should respect one’s limits and act accordingly. Also, there must be measure and balance in all our lives. Neither too high near the sun, nor too low near the sea, Daedalus counselled, but Icarus paid no heed and his immoderation cost him his life.

Minotaur symbolizes hell or state repression. In the contemporary context, it is the symbol of fire and terrorism consuming all of us. Picasso felt that Minotaur is a symbol of contemporary decadence. Powell’s “Birth of the Minotaur” makes it clear that Minotaur’s birth is a manifestation of “a new Hell”:

Suddenly, the screams of one thousand
Sirens decry the final exodus of the
Monstrous incubus, and within the
Silence that ensues a new
Hell is borne
In the shape of the

Powell’s wise interpretation is that Minotaur is nothing but our uncontrollable lusts. Seven youths for the monster to eat symbolize seven energy centres (Chakras) being eaten by our selfishness and egoism. The Minotaur is our inner adversary, our egoism eating our seven Chakras of vitality. We need Theseus, our own Guardian Angel to cleanse the maze and labyrinth of confusion wrought by our own egoism. In our contemporary world we need Theseus who “Embarks the waiting ship / Without once looking back” (103) to bring us into the light by killing Minotaur. Theseus “Kneeling in silent supplication / To the celestial guardians / Of love and beauty” (107) will certainly destroy Minotaur and escape alive. No doubt about this, as Theseus recovers the gold ring hurled by Minos into the ocean:

Tension was keen amongst the spectators
As all anxiously awaited the questionable
Resurgence of Theseus from the aqueous depths.
But doubt soon turned to astonishment as the
Beloved son of Poseidon defiantly resurfaced
Onto the starboard deck sporting a wry smile,
A golden ring and a gilded wreath of lilies
Bequeathed him by the fair mermaid Amphitrite.
(“Miracle 2: The Ring”, 106)

We can hope to be rescued from the Labyrinth only by Theseus- Christ. Jo Edkins’ interpretation of Labyrinth is remarkable: “Certainly many people have felt that a maze is a good symbol for life itself. A branching maze presents you with choices every so often. You can take a wrong turn, or there may be two paths which join up again, all of which mirror life itself. A unicursal maze also can represent life. We are born, we all die, and in between we travel the path of life which twists and turns, often in a bewildering way. We cannot see ahead, and the past is gone. When we reach the centre of our maze of life, we die.”

The Minotaur was a monster, half man, half bull, who ate men. He was born to the wife of King Minos of Crete. Minos told Daedalus, the inventor, to build a house that was so complicated that the Minotaur would never escape from it, so Daedalus built the Labyrinth. King Minos had a vast empire, and as a tribute he had people sent to feed to the Minotaur. They were driven into the Labyrinth, and wandered around, lost, until the Minotaur found them.

Part of King Minos’ empire was Athens, in Greece. The son of the king of Athens was Theseus, a hero. He was so angry that Athenian people were being killed in this way that he volunteered to go. Powell’s poem AEGEUS reveals the pathos inherent in the whole incident as Aegeus is quite despondent due to his only son’s departure:

The swollen eyes of
Both men rain a
Sprinkling of teardrops
In bidding of courage
And divine favor.

Anthony Stevens describes how Ariadne helped Theseus: “In Crete, Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, fell in love with Theseus, and told him how to find his way through the Labyrinth. She gave him a thread, with one end tied to the door of the Labyrinth. Theseus could unwind the thread as he tried to find the Minotaur. When he wished to return, he could follow the thread back again, rewinding it as he went. Ariadne also gave Theseus a sword. He went in, found the Minotaur and killed him. Then he returned, and fled from Crete with Ariadne and the rest of the Athenians” (Ariadne’s Clue: A Guide to the Symbols of Humankind, pp xii).

Fiona Ross aptly remarks that Theseus was hero enough to slay the Minotaur but without Ariadne’s thread to guide him he would never have found his way back through the labyrinth. In fact, we should find our own Ariadne and hence negotiate our own path through the labyrinth of the psychoid.

In more recent times, classical themes have been reinterpreted by dramatists Jean Anouilh, Jean Cocteau, and Jean Giraudoux in France, Eugene O’Neill in America, and T. S. Eliot in Britain and by novelists such as James Joyce and André Gide. Plato created his own allegorical myths (such as the vision of Er in the Republic), attacked the traditional tales of the gods’ tricks, thefts and adulteries as immoral, and objected to their central role in literature. Plato’s criticism was the first serious challenge to the Homeric mythological tradition, referring to the myths as “old wives’ chatter”.

The depth of Powell’s thought is visible in the following lines full of earnestness and sincerity:
There is no escape from Time or prophecy Except in the play of the mind.
And yet in denial of death
Lay forfeiture of Salvation.

Powell in the above lines is suggesting that the highest summit and perpetual light of “salvation” is possible only if we are not afraid of death. We must rather fix our eyes to converse with the divine and immortal “play of the mind.”

Apart from the poems based on the Cretan myths, Powell shows a tendency to an intellectual comment on the ills lurking within us. This device we find in his poem The Devil:
Yes. Beware Of darkness ..
And beware Of mirrors ..
But most of all
Of the devil

Maria Cristina Azcona rightly comments:
“The most beautiful piece, to my understanding, is “The Devil” in which the poet speaks to us, readers, he orders us, he calls our attention, he prevents us of that devil that exists, that is so dangerous sand terrifying. The poet frightens us with the Devil playing “To hide and to find” games, petrifying us with its threatening and unknown presence. Creates the climate of fear of a terror story. In a magisterial synthesis, gives an impressive end when he finally finds that devil in ourselves, shocking us and forcing us to recognize the wickedness that lives and hides in our human heart. Here the poet creates a personage, the Devil, that no longer is the famous one but is a real, present phantom, humanized, possible and burning, like the fire of malice in daily life. Originality is a constant in Powell’s poems, a surprising and multifaceted artist who amazes us with his music, his paintings, his poems, his humor and always with his genius. He communicates himself in so many ways and he revives in thousands of kaleidoscopic images…”
(A Guide to Find Peace 124-125)

The above comment is a sign of Maria’s critical insight. Lurking devil is within all of us. The Minotaur, half man with the head of a bull, appears briefly in Dante’s Inferno, Canto 12,11-15, where, picking their way among boulders dislodged on the slope and preparing to enter into the Seventh Circle, Dante and Virgil his guide encounter the beast first among those damned for their violent natures, the “men of blood”. Powell in his poem “Birth of the Minotaur” points out that Minotaur is “a new hell”, and we have to be aware of this Devil.

But “the romance of flesh” needs to be vanquished by “Half-dried ablutions”:

Frozen emotionless by
Half-dried ablutions is
The poetry of endings
Muting into beginnings.
“Rhythm and Tears” 70

Powell emphasizes that ablution is a prerequisite to approaching God and bringing a new beginning. “Thou art justified. Thou art illumined. Thou art sanctified. Thou art washed: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

In his poem “White Roses”, Powell hopes to shape “The lives of others I touch”. The poets are the prophets of God. It is through poetry that all men see the spiritual world. “The poet is the priest of the invisible” (Wallace Stevens).

Friends urge me to go on
With my life and speak of
The treasure of memories and
Shared experiences that have
Made me the unique human
Expression that I have become,
And which will further shape
The lives of others I touch
“White Roses” 82

Most of the poems in Collected Poems (2005) were written about two decades ago. What do these poems reveal? That the spiritual way is the only way to self-knowledge. In the section POETRY CYCLE 4: “Notes of a Madman”, we find Powell’s poems reach deeper. His visionary trances help him in encountering the inner and external realities:

I sally past the contingencies of reality
In pursuit of divine retribution,
And aspire toward that which
Must be accepted on faith alone.
My words warrant neither explanation
Nor restraint,
For the notes of a madman
Are understood by his own kind.
“Notes of a Madman” 127

The main theme of the above lines is Faith, approached from a philosophical point of view. Powell is striving for the essence of spontaneous spiritual process:

” … You will never know yourself until you
become indifferent to the search.”
The jeering laughter of the gull
Shatters my Revelation, triggering
My teeth to chatter in
The now-felt cold.
In vain, I retrace the shoreline
In search of my impressions, but
All existence has been cannibalized
By the froth of the moment.
Truly, my absurdities of perception
Are a source of refuge:
The complacency of the sage
Is the bane of the common man.
“Absurdities of Perception” 134

He has a deep sense of “the Unknown”;

Quite enraptured by my own image
In a mirror of Darkness,
I abandon both reflection and shadow
For a glimpse of the Unknown.
“Mirror of Darkness” 135

Powell is well aware of the predictions of French seer Nostradamus (1503-1566), who had predicted the collapse of the World Trade Centre during September 2001 terrorist attack:

A society of barren undines in
An Elysium of our own fabrication,
We flee the curse of Nostradamus
Through indulgence and invention.
Is it not written that
In the year of man’s redemption,
What were once vices
Will then be customs?
“Anno humanae salutis” 137

The “madman” in the following lines seems to be a Buddhist monk emphasizing the Middle Way and “Great Compassion”:

The vacant smile of the madman
Who finds solace
In the continuum
Of the Great Compassion?
“Agitations of the Heart” 138

Each day the Moon rises in the east and sets in the west as a result of the Earth’s rotation. “The movement of the moon” renews and revitalizes Powell, and it is a spiritual voyage for the poet:

I recede into solitude
Where I hold myself until the
Movement of the moon breaks my sleep,
And lubricates my outer Self anew
With tears of reunion.
“Void of Course” 140

Powell reminds us that without “meditations / Of the heart”, divinity is inconceivable:
It is through meditations
Of the heart that we encounter divinity
“IAO” 142

A soaring passion and ecstasy of intoxicated “darwish” is what the world needs today:
Lost in the assertion that There is no god but God, The drunken darwish is Rendered ecstatic by the Soma of perfection … “la ilaha illa Llah …
illa Llah … Allah!” …
“The Eye of the Triangle” 143

On the twelfth day of Bacchion,
The god of magical grace and rapture
Is summoned from the sea
By those willing to suffer to learn.
“The Coming” 144

In the above passages the moral pattern is quite clear as Powell prefers “faith” to maze and confusion in the brain.


Powell and the Ideology of Rapture: endings of space and time

In the poems included in RAPTURE, Powell without any doubt shows the characteristic of universality. Albert Russo aptly comments in his Preface to Powell’s RAPTURE: endings of space and time:
As I have written before, elsewhere, I admire Powell the Renaissance man, Powell the Peace artist, the poet whose verse has a classical beauty which can never be out of fashion, inasmuch as it reflects our harsh and unstable world in which the clash of civilizations has become a terrifying reality, and yet in spite of the dangers, he continues to reach out and absorbs the riches and the variety he discovers in other cultures. In the present case he takes us to the heart of Nepal. His power of piercing to the hidden centres of evil in the globalised world is visible in the opening lines of The Tribulation:

The globalization of
indiscriminate violence
is multiplied to
the power of the sixes,
and the Antichrist
smiles broadly at
the cancerous spreading
of fear and perdition –
rationalized by armies of
self-proclaimed truth.

“Fear”, “perdition”. “armies of / self-proclaimed truth”-these evils are exposed by Powell with a flawless strength and truth, which raises him to immensely above most of the contemporary authors. The tragedy is that the world is indifferent towards dominantly repugnant decay of civilization:

a macabre procession
matched in passion
only by the
mega tsunamis and
super volcanic
eruptions cataclysmically
creating myriads of
Devil’s Throats
as the reddish-brown
water whirlpools
about the rubble of
once looming
Resolutely ..
I rock myself
to inner drunkenness,
quietly humming
Ravel’s Pavane pour
une Infante Défunte.

The music and sweeping speed of the above lines create “the music of a full orchestra”. Powell’s anguish reminds us of W. H Auden’s The Age of Anxiety where we notice according to Berryman’s review, decay of the modern soul, the seven ages of man’s life, the seven stages of some dream-quest, the possibilities of happiness, the alienations of men, the ennuis of America.

His poem “ARMAGEDDON” seems to be written in a state of trance. Especially the later part of the poem has the rapidity of musical lyrics of Shelley or Swinburne (1837-1909).

Whichner aptly comments about Emily Dickinson: “Her delight was to test all conceivable points of view in turn.” This is applicable to Powell’s poetry in Rapture. Like any major poet, Powell offers several view points to save us from the contemporary nightmare. The poem “Ascension” is a mystical response to the modern chaos. Powell evokes an image of “Great Compassion” creating “crystalline light” and “universal vibration”.

Dante’s Purgatorio (XXVI, 147-148) describes the poet’s “pain” in the following way:

‘sovegna vos a temps de ma dolor’.
Poi s’ascose nel foco che gli affina.

Eliot provided this translation in his essay “Dante” (1929):

‘be mindful in due time of my pain’.
Then dived he back into that fire which refines them.

Powell too is well aware of “the wailing / and mutterings / of the insane” “a macabre procession” (ibid), “Devil’s Throats” (21). How can we keep and save our soul and ideals? Powell in the concluding lines affirms that by a kind of “inner drunkenness” we may hope to survive. His next poem “Requiem” too seems to be a Virgilian cry over the destruction of spiritual values by “eloquent predators” and “opportunists”.

The poet further laments “a now-barren / Landscape devoid of / Romanticism and / Common decency” reminding us of Yeats’ famous lines in THE SECOND COMING:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

We may remember that Yeats was not happy with excess of science and materialism; on the other hand Powell is dismayed by the dangers facing us due to avarice and greed brought by globalization. He pines “For a milder Age that ended / All-too-abruptly.” This is a wonderful poetic expression, philosophic and elegiac both..Yes, Powell is right. We have gone too far and beyond comprehension. Powell concludes his poem :”Requiem” with a note of hope:

Hope that there is more
Meaning to be grasped
For he who holds out
Beyond the bitter end

In Powell’s poetry we see haunting images of wandering and loss, an exiled poet’s sense of melancholy.. For him the ultimate satisfaction seems to be “Carefully wrapped in unencumbered / Dreams in the style of our ancestors” (“After the Rapture” 17), though there exist “surrealist struggles for survival” (ibid). In his next poem THE FOURTH HORSEMAN also, Powell is well aware of the “ravages of war”:

I have come to accept
the threat of the first horseman,
on his mighty white steed

The title of this poem THE FOURTH HORSEMAN refers to the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” chapter six of the Book of Revelation. The four horsemen are symbols of Conquest, War, Famine, and Death. They are part of an apocalyptic vision in which God summons and empowers them to wreak divine havoc on the world. The rider of the second horse is War, he will reap judgment in the name of God Himself. He is often taken to represent War. His horse’s color is fiery red. This color, as well as the rider’s possession of a large sword, suggests blood to be spilled on the battlefield (Mounce 140).

Powell fears most the fourth horseman, the symbol of death:

Ironically, I mostly dread
the thieving fourth horseman
who arrives each dawn
on his pale mare and
reclaims from my broken dreams
the yet unlived memories of our love.

“The color suggests the sickly pallor of a corpse” (Shirley Jackson). Powell seems to be in the midst of the fourth horseman. In fact, each of us is afraid of the fourth horseman that is Death. Shakespeare writes about Death:

The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury and imprisonment
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death.

Measure to Measure Act III Scene 1

The poem REDEEMING SAVIOUR with its evocations of “Christ the Redeemer” moves into the world of prophecy:

Mesmerized by the
Anointing smile of
Christ the Redeemer,
I see a muse
With an angel
To the chanting
Of a monk’s choir;
A solemn moment’s
Reprieve from a
Raging sea of cynicism.
And I cling tightly to my
Dream-state while
Tears of joy and recognition
Rock me lovingly back to
True consciousness;
Reminiscent of
Life between lives –
A moment of bliss
RAPTURE: endings of space and time p. 23

This poem can be comprehended at various levels: as a sacred poem affirming Powell’ faith:

Ironically, I mostly dread
the thieving fourth horseman
who arrives each dawn
on his pale mare and
reclaims from my broken dreams
the yet unlived memories of our love.

In his quest for inner peace, Powell goes first to Christ’s “anointing smile”. This will certainly compensate for the grim contemporary reality and “Raging sea of cynicism”. Some of Powell’s favourite phrases in this poem are “Christ the Redeemer”, “Slow-dancing / With an angel”, “a monk’s choir”, “Tears of joy” leading to “True consciousness” and “A moment of bliss”. Powell’s sacred insight manifests itself in his poem “Gloria”:

Gloria in excélsis Deo!
Alleluia … Alleluia …
Although our backs are broken,
And our wings are tattered;
Our hearts and souls
Will forever sing your praises.
There is only one God,
But the ways to You are many.
Alleluia … Alleluia …
Alleluia … Alleluia …
RAPTURE: endings of space and time p.24

The title with its praise of God, prepares us for a revelation. Powell’s imagination turns inwards and inspires him to utter these prophetic words:

There is only one God,
But the ways to You are many.

There is no difference between Mother Mary and Buddhist Nirvana. “Carrying our esoteric understanding of Mother Mary to a broader level, Mary’s womb is the primal womb, the womb of creation. The womb is the empty space in which life takes form. It is emptiness, formlessness, night, void, nirvana. Mary is all these things in Christian symbolism, just as are all world images of the Divine Feminine. Mary represents the formless void, which burst forth in “light” and form and manifestation” (Granger).

The poem concludes with the joyful praise of God:
Alleluia … Alleluia …
Alleluia … Alleluia …

The Latin title of the poem “Gloria in excelsis Deo” means “Glory to God in the highest”. In his sacred poems Powell reminds us of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and Ash Wednesday. There seems to be an error of perspective in the comments by Samuel Beckett and Paul Elmer More. Samuel Beckett suggests that Eliot’s work belongs in what the reverse of “T. Eliot” spells. In a 1935 letter to a mutual friend of theirs, Paul Elmer More, Lewis wrote that he considered the work of Eliot to be “a very great evil.” My point will become clear by comparing T. S. Eliot and Powell. The following lines are by T. S. Eliot:

Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit
of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated
And let my cry come unto Thee
(Ash Wednesday)

Powell’s use of refrain “Alleluia” makes his religious integrity more convincing than Eliot’s spiritual ordeal in the last line “And let my cry come unto Thee”. It is helpful to remember an important characteristic of Powell as a poet. What Powell is doing in his poetry is to cheer himself whenever there is an uncomfortable experience. He has intimate knowledge of Greek myths, folklore and ancient legends. There is enough of Daedalus, Minnotaur, Thesus and Ariadne in his Collected Poems (2005) to suggest that Powell is in quest of some key to unlock obstinate questionings of life and death in his deepest psyche. In his poems included in RAPTURE (2007) he uses a great number of phrases and images suggesting his passion for spiritual rebirth: “True Will”, “New Order”, “eternal vibrations of the source”, “Great Compassion”, “crystalline Light”, “sacred Mantra”, “dreams in the style of our ancestors”; he dislikes “the thieving fourth horseman”, “the cancerous spreading / of fear and perdition”.

Powell does not use poetic masks , and this makes him quite different from T. S. Eliot who hides behind assumed voices of Prufrock, Gerontion and Tiresias.

RAPTURE also includes Powell’s poems about Nepal, Buddha and the temples. Nepal is a land of temples and stupas and in the valley alone we can find many world’s heritage temples. In India and Nepal both, this nine-day festival is regarded as very auspicious, symbol of prosperity. In his poems about Nepal, Powell has used several Sanskrit words: “Gauri Shankar”, “Durga”, “Vijaya Dashami”, “Namaste”, “Ghatasthapana”, “kalash”, “Tika”, “Fulpati”, “puja”, “Maha Asthami”, “Nawami”, “Dashami”, “Vishwa Karma”, “Laxmi”, “Kal Ratri”, and also two Buddhist Mantras “OM VAJRAPANI HUM..OM VAJRAPANI HUUM” (31), and another famous Buddhist Mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” (36) which means Jewel in the Lotus Hum. T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) too had working knowledge of Sanskrit (he already knew Latin, Greek, French and German). The Waste Land concludes with Sanskrit words:

Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
Shantih shantih shanty

This creates obscurity in the poetry of both Powell and T. S. Eliot. Samuel Beckett too tried to resolve the obscurity in his absurd plays:

“In KRAP’S LAST TAPE …Becket makes use of the tape recorder to demonstrate the elusiveness of human personality….Beckett has found a graphic expression for the problem of the ever changing identity of the self , which he had already described in his essay on Proust. In KRAPP’S LAST TAPE, the self at one moment in time is confronted with it’s earlier incarnation only to find it utterly strange” (Martin).

Powell’s poem “At The Buddhist Temple” derives its direction from the “Great Compassion”. There is a close connection between self- realization and “Vajrayana”. I may add that Vajrayana Buddhism, or highest form of Tantrism, is a form of Buddhist thought that has flourished in northern India and particularly Tibet. Powell evokes image after image of Tibetan Buddhism:

And thus, we step beyond the world outside of worlds
where karma is but a balancing act together with
punya-making, chance, luck and physical laws;
and approach the inner reaches of devotion with
complete individual and collective unity – for
all else belongs to the world of maya.
The vajracarya in me receives the Lord as my
guest and personal extension, and together we
dance through barriers known as illusion.
Our devoted compassion together with the refraction
of the light of the candles activates our heart, throat
and crown chakras – thus creating the perfect
Adamantine vehicle for illumination known as the
Great Source and Center, and all mantras coalesce
into one as flames and thunderbolts consume our
delusion and transform our essence:

Powell’s thought seems to concentrate on the original sources of Tibetan Buddhism with its great emphasis on “Great Compassion” and “self-realization”. Soon after, he refers to the Vajrayana Mantra “OM VAJRAPANI HUM..OM VAJRAPANI HUUM” (31), and another famous Buddhist Mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” (36) which means Jewel in the Lotus Hum. The final depths of the poem “At the Buddhist Temple” are indicated as we “give birth to the God within” after reciting the Mantra. T. S. Eliot wrote that the great philosophers of India “make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys”(Eliot 40). He also studied Yoga-Sutras by Patanjali. There is no doubt that both T.S Eliot and Powell are influenced by orientalism. “Two years spent in the study of Sanskrit under Charles Lanman, and-a year in the mazes of Patanjali’s metaphysics under the guidance of James Woods, left me in a state of enlightened mystification” (ibid). Eliot was also influenced by the Gita. “the Bhagavad-Gita … is the next greatest philosophical poem to the Divine Comedy within my experience” (Eliot, “Dante” 219). It is also well- known that Buddhism influenced great authors like Schopenhauer, Hartmann, and Deussen.

It seems certain that Powell also is influenced by Buddhism. Albert Russo rightly comments about Powell, the poet, the photographer, the essayist, literary critic, extraordinary painter and musician:

As I have written before, elsewhere, I admire Powell the Renaissance man, Powell the Peace artist, the poet whose verse has a classical beauty which can never be out of fashion, inasmuch as it reflects our harsh and unstable world in which the clash of civilizations has become a terrifying reality, and yet in spite of the dangers, he continues to reach out and absorbs the riches and the variety he discovers in other cultures. In the present case he takes us to the heart of Nepal.

The visual and pictorial images in his poems about Nepal show that Powell is a great painter of words. The picturesque details prove that Powell is influenced by Pre-Raphaelite poets. Powell makes pictures out of words; Buddhist Temple provides him a highly paintable subject matter. The following images reveal that he is a great poet-painter like Blake, Keats and D. G. Rossetti: “a few tourists snapping photographs”, “the darkness of the darkest night”, “the awaited procession arrives”, “splendid palanquin carrying the royal kalash”, “Knee-deep in blood”, “gun salutes”, “slaughtered buffaloes”, “bustling pedestrians”, “taxis, rickshaws and bicycles”, a child selling “Coins, cigarette, milk or chocolate”. A pictorial version of his poems should be done by Powell himself or some other important painter. We may add that the translation of Keats’ “The Eve of St. Agnes” was done by the Pre-Raphaelites.

The analogy of poetry to painting is at least as old as Plato and Simonides. Michelangelo, Blake, Rossetti (pre-Raphaelite), Baudelaire- Cezanne, Mallarme/Zola, D.H. Lawrence were poet-painters. The Surrealists insisted on the fundamental relations between the arts. In his poems in Le Paradis also we find that Powell is a painter of words. Here is a list of some pictorial images and phrases from his collection Le Paradis: “cloudless azure skies”, “turquoise sea lines”, “The sun burns hot /on tattooed skin”, “crude, photo-snapping idiots”, “her ritual and ceremonial dances”, “Dusk sets quietly over / the lagoon at Bora Bora”, “the horseman / of the Apocalypse”. The reason behind Powell using so many pictorial phrases both in his early and later poetry is that he is creating an aesthetic fusion between different arts like poetry and painting. Moreover, Powell in his poetry is carrying his pictorial powers to spiritual realms.

This is evident in his quest for intense experience and eternal values in his 2014: the life and adventures of an incarnated angel. Powell’s 2014 creates a great impact on us by its original plot and invention, and has great appeal for all due to a universal fondness for the supernatural and extraterrestrial world. Powell describes the major players in the galaxy: the Galactic Confederation, and the Orion Empire. Fancies of the strange things and marvelous inventions, the Intervention Plan and Zeta Reticulians make Powell’s work very remarkable. Powell’s most impassioned thought is visible in Ga’s reflections about Lightworkers:

…ninety-nine global vortexes of the Golden Cities (Eternal cities of Universal Light), including ‘Kristiania’ (“Vibrations of Conscience”) – the Eternal City of Universal Light over Oslo, and information regarding the spiritual work of a group of Lightworkers who had been meeting on the outskirts of Oslo 1-2 times a week to cooperate on various projects directed at preparing for full activation of the Oslo-area vortex, and educating those ready to hear about the Earth’s movement into higher dimensions of consciousness. The activities of this group of Lightworkers included: meditation and prayer for guidance and healing, exploratory astral projection into the Oslo vortex, active work with Ascended Masters and angels on personal emotional and spiritual challenges, exhibitions of channelled art and poetry, channelling and distribution of symbols from the Universal Language of Light, angelic channelling by way of talking in tongues, the purifying of energy in Oslo-area churches in preparation for the increased influx of Christos energy and consciousness, and much talking with everyday people about the new state of things in God’s universes, and especially regarding the Earth’s challenges and destiny, as incarnates move forward into the higher dimensions. And finally, the entity then known as ‘Mikael’ urged the audience to join other dedicated Lightworkers who were working to clean out the many vortexes and tunnels across the globe, so that the Christos energy could flow freely … adding: ‘the more Lightworkers who work on this important activity, the faster both personal and Earth spiritual transformation will happen.’


I have tried in these pages to express my confidence that in the works of Powell we have a philosophy that can guide and sustain us. At least it seems to me that there can be no continued peace on earth unless we learn to follow the main forces of nature like OGUN and OBATALA as revealed by Powell in his 2014:

I would like to remind you that each person is born with one main Force of Nature, and that your dominant/main Force of Nature is Ogun. The qualities of Ogun are:

Force (an unfinished lesson for you)
Pure Justice
Initiative (unfinished lesson)
Truth (unfinished lesson)

The other Force of Nature that you have to work with is Obatala, whose qualities include:

Wisdom (unfinished)
Caretaker of Creation
Morals (unfinished)
Cool (unfinished)
Calm (unfinished)
Purity of Intention (unfinished)
Clarity of Thought
Rational Thought

What is the essence of transcendentalism and mysticism in the works of Powell? His poem “The Universal Language of Light” is a fine attempt to unravel the esoteric philosophy and discover “blue white particles / of light energy”.

Powell clearly reveals his short spiritual messages for Lightworkers:

1) A call to Lightworkers: increasingly rapid and successive changes in our consciousness, dna structure, understanding of our galactic environment, the functions of our pineal gland, revelations about deceptions etc. necessitate a new understanding of and approach to psychology and psychiatry. We need to start educating experts in the medical field about spiritual developments now. There is much resistance but the pace of consciousness change and external influences will soon radically increase both the need for spiritually-developed and spiritually-aware medical practitioners, and make Lightworkers’ work in these areas easier. Many of you have been studying psychology, coaching, NLP, Reiki, aura reading and healing etc. for a long time. Listen to your guides for instructions.

2) We planetary citizens (in all our hybrid forms) continuously define our present and future with our thoughts, words and actions. How are you defining the reality you wish to embrace? Do you wallow in the doom and gloom prophecies, or do you take up your sword and your rose, and create “heaven on Earth”?

3) The long-awaited “Divine Intervention” is not merely an external intervention comprised of teams of higher beings, angels, aliens etc. but includes mostly humanoids. Humanoids must now understand that they themselves create reality (present and future) with their thoughts, words and actions. This cannot be stressed enough. Thoughts, light and sound are building blocks of creation. Life forms are created in other ways than mere biological Darwinian explanations. This means that: 1) humanoids have self- determination, and can at any point in time re-create a new and better reality and existence; 2) yes, we are ALL GOD, i.e. self-creating souls that are manifestations of divine energy, and that never “die” because energy and soul entities can not be destroyed but rather transformed; and 3) once we are able to collectively raise the thought consciousness level on this planet enough we will get the assistance we ask for from external forces, which are waiting with excitement to see if we can wake up from our dreams and see behind the various smoke screens that we are obsessed with. WE ARE THE DIVINE INTERVENTION! Please wake up humanoids. But even if you do not, your souls will continue to live and to evolve in other forms (as they do while you are now still in humanoid form).Learn to focus and direct your thoughts and energies. That will help your self-manifestation abilities. Adonai!

4) Terra is now at the gateway of the Fourth density, and the signs are appearing all over the globe. Do not be misled by charlatans or those who would attempt to promote fear. I say to you verily: Terra will NOT perish as a world. There will be some changes, but many will survive. Lightworkers have much to do in the years to come. Do not look upon 2012 as an ending, but as a beginning – the beginning of a brave new world with a new consciousness. Dear Lightworkers: there are many who will be confused and who will be in fear amidst the transitional changes underway, and which will be speeding up from now on. Show empathy and help them to understand that which seems “miraculous” and “impossible”. Meditate and ask for guidance. Your questions will be answered in all ways possible. Adonai and godspeed!

The central theme in his best works is the plight of contemporary generation. Image after image is evoked by Powell revealing esoteric, occult philosophy, prophecy and vision. Powell sings praises in honor of old traditions, the spirit of the righteousness. It is to Lemuria and the island of Bora Bora that Powell’s love is given:

We are born again …
on the island of Bora Bora –
the ‘first born’ paradise –
truly, a homage to the godliness in us all.
Le Paradis 25

This is the main centre of Powell’s passion. I am convinced that the underlying thought in Powell’s poetry is occultism and mysticism. Though he is aware of “our perpetual / State of existentialism and blues” (“Three-legged Waltz” 40), the dominant quality in his poetry is:

Light of God’s eternal love
And mercy,
Mirrored in a trillion smiles.
At that instant I rise
Out of my body, and
My chakras line up

The emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of his personality are visible in the following lines:

You and he and they
In opposition to
My circle of One.
ZODIAC, Three-legged Waltz 46

“My circle of One” may be interpreted sacred spiritual light opposed by the world. What T.S. Eliot says of Dante’s Paradiso is truly applicable to Powell’s poetry: it is religious poetry which is not didactic. From Greek fables, Tibbetan Buddhism, Kathmandu temples, and old traditions of Lemuria Powell has made significant poems. These poems vividly manifest “the making of an inwardness from what is outside”.

The themes of his later poems are mostly mystical. The ugliness and the squalor of the contemporary life has its impact on the poet’s senses. The fears of the ecological disaster, cancers, quick money, “screams of the female victims of the inebriated” (Le Paradis 49), atomic destruction, “crude, photo-snapping idiots and / tattooed pseudo celebrities” (Le Paradis 27)-passing through such satirical insights Powell takes refuge in the Buddhist Mantra “OM VAJRAPANI HUUM” reciting it eight times in “At the Buddhist Temple” (RAPTURE 31) and “Maha Asthami” (RAPTURE 33). In EPILOGUE also he mumbles twice sacred Mantra “OM MANI PADME HUM” (RAPTURE 36). This may be described as Powell’s “awful daring of a moment’s surrender” (T. S. Eliot) towards Buddhism. This device of reiteration is often used by Shakespeare. For example, Shakespeare reaches “topmost peaks of poetry” (Bradley) by using the word ‘Never’ five times to describe Lear’s anguish. His Buddhist poems are contemplative in tone, and evoke the sacred.

Powell is describing the grave crisis faced by the Lightworkers. Titania’s own countrymen should not be slaves of the ‘white men’ and servants to the “god of materialism”, but the tragedy is that they have become slaves. They should never be “traitors to the old / traditions, the Old Way and the / religion of Lemuria” (LE PARADIS 48), but again the tragedy is that they have become traitors. Powell’s genius is concerned with this change. Powell’s “Third Eye” is attempting a rare thing- change in our soul. Powell is finding truth in Buddhist Mantra leaving him captive “to vision and hallucination” (RAPTURE 33). In fact, Buddhism fits Powell’s purpose in two ways: (1) quest for illumination and salvation, and (2) blending of European and Oriental sensibility.

Another interpretation is possible that Powell is writing “Confessional poetry” at its best, a remarkable characteristic of postmodern literature. Like Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath, Powell is expressing intense personal experience without depending on myths and symbols to convey his themes in his later poetry. We notice two recurring themes in his later poetry: timelessness and quest for utopia. In fact, a new esoteric and transcendental religion can be founded from the affirmations of William Blake, P. B. Shelley and Powell. In his mysticism, Powell is nearest to Blake. Caroline F. E. Spurgeon aptly says:”William Blake is one of the great mystics of the world; and he is by far the greatest and most profound who has spoken in English. Like Henry More and Wordsworth, he lived in a world of glory, of spirit and of vision, which, for him, was the only real world. At the age of four he saw God looking in at the window, and from that time until he welcomed the approach of death by singing songs of joy which made the rafters ring, he lived in an atmosphere of divine illumination” (Mysticism in English Literature). The mood of Powell’s poetry is similar to Blake’s “divine illumination”, and his handling of Buddhism and Cretan myths are remarkably profound, without a trace of affectation.

Powell presents many traces of his most lofty speculation, mysticism and philosophical expression. This gift of moral sentiment and esoteric interest to apprehend the absolute, this hunger for eternity, his discontent with contemporary evils, a penetrative faith in transforming the world by a kind of divine alchemy inspired by the transcendental schools of Germany and America, his philosophical speculations-all these qualities we find in Powell’s works.

What I have said above could be expressed more accurately in another way. Powell’s poetry is “a battleground for the clash of opposites”. This will be clarified if we read his poems carefully. For example, Powell says that “godliness in yourselves” and greed, “our traditions and culture’ have been reduced to “perverse transgressions” (Le Paradis 50): “golden Age” and “Fourth Dimension’ contrasted by Powell with “separateness of consciousness” (Le Paradis 31; “AntiChrist” and “Soldiers of hatred” contrasted with “messengers of love and compassion” (RAPTURE 19): ‘surrealistic struggles for survival” with “Dreams in the style of our ancestors” (RAPTURE 17); “eloquent predators / And the opportunists” contrasted by Powell with “a milder Age that ended/ All-too-abruptly” (RAPTURE 22) in his quest for some system of belief. The presentation of such contrasting values by Powell makes it clear that the genius of the poet is searching and trying to find out how to change human action to create a better world. Powell as a poet is mainly concerned to preserve eternal values.

The fact is that from 1930 onward we notice a change in English literature. Ezra Pound had left England; D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce had died, and T.S. Eliot was now more concentrated in writing his poetic dramas. We notice a new cultural confluence of authors for example French-African writers, English- African poets. This is evident as we peruse Powell’s works, where the mother tongue is losing its sanctity. Prof. Moshé Liba also published his 59 books, and he writes in 6 languages (“Letter to Karunesh”). This is evident from the following lines in Moshé Liba’s poem “A Poem, a week”:

I read a poem
all this week.

I read a poem in Polish.
I read a poem in Polish,
the same,
translated into French.
I read a poem in French,
the same,
translated into German.
I read a poem in German,
the same,
translated into English.
I read a poem in English,
the same,
translated into Hebrew.
I read a poem in Hebrew,
the same,
translated into Dutch.
I read a poem in Dutch,
the same,
translated into Polish.

And it was not
the same.
The Hague, 3-12-2007

The dual or multiple personality of the author has become a reality, as the main problem of the exiled writers like Powell is to find roots. Such writers seem to carry “their towns of origin in their minds”. Borders don’t exist for binational, bicultural and multilingual poets like Powell.

Powell’s world of poetry becomes bigger due to his trilingualism. His poems written in Norwegian, Spanish and English language build his identity and develop his poetic voice. There is a dignity and beauty in Powell’s poetry, for which all ardent lovers of literature may be grateful.

Like T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and W. B. Yeats-two were Americans and one Irish- Powell has been successful in bringing English poetry in the mainstream of European culture and proper recognition in world literature. In fact, Powell’s attitude towards life is fairly clear in the following excerpt from his Letter # 1 written to me and published in June 2009 issue of Taj Mahal Review.

Powell is most interested in “… evoking memories of the delicious small pleasures of life on Terra: the smell of pine needles in the forest, the spray of the sea upon my face as I walk along the beach, the interplay of sunlight and shadows created by clouds and trees, simple perfection as seen in the faces of new-born children, elderly men and women, and in animals and leaves of grass, the feeling of inner peace experienced when listening to music inspired by soulful curiosity and exploration and which dances in ecstasy, whirling like a Dervish that is intoxicated by Divine revelation … well, you get the picture: those special “small” joys we often take for granted in the monotony of human materialism and self-absorption. The soul never dies but responsibility for the future of humanity and of Terra lies in our thoughts, words and actions.”

To conclude, I don’t hesitate to claim for Powell the position of a major English poet. The poems by Adam Donaldson Powell are marked by intense creative power, sincerity of emotion, an apt and vivid quality of imagination, an incomparable feeling for the vowel-music and the splendid poetic cadences. The significant question is whether these poems convey any moral purpose, or have they been written only for poetry’s sake? I. A. Richards in his Principles of Literary Criticism (1924) and (Practical Criticism (1929) tried to answer this problem of the relation between art and morality. He says, “What does the formula ‘Poetry for poetry’s sake tells us… First, this experience is an end in itself, is worth having on its own account, has an intrinsic value. Next, its poetic value is this intrinsic worth alone. Poetry may also have an ulterior value as a means to culture or religion; because it conveys instruction or softens the passions, or furthers a good cause, because it brings the poet a good fame, or money, or a quiet conscience. So much the better; let it be valued for these reasons too. But its ulterior worth neither is nor can directly determine its poetic worth as a satisfying imaginative experience; and this is to be judged entirely from within.”

The above wise observation made by I. A. Richards emphasizes the importance of ‘a satisfying imaginative experience’, which every great poem must produce. The raw material for the poet’s experience may be derived from ancient legends like Powell inspired by the Cretan myths, the contemporary life, frustrated love, quest for simplicity and reality. But, the poets writing during the postmodern time should follow Powell who does not believe in writing “nice poetry about nice people”, since poetry today should be written in hard, dry images, with the sharpness of outline and precision of form, creating new rhythms, and discarding old rhythms.

Powell’s poetry reveals “a fresh exploration of reality” (V. de S. Pinto, Crisis in English Poetry). T. S. Eliot aptly comments: “Real Poetry survives not only a change of popular opinion but the complete extinction of interest in the issues with which the poet was passionately interested” (On Poetry and Poets). This statement by T.S. Eliot is fully true about the poetry of Adam Donaldson Powell.

– Dr. Santosh Kumar, “Adam Donaldson Powell: the Making of a Poet”, 2010, Cyberwit.net, India.

From the Cyberwit.net website:


Dr. Santosh Kumar (b. 1946) is a poet, short-story writer and an editor from India; DPhil in English; Editor of Taj Mahal Review and Harvests of New Millennium Journals; several awards; member of World Poets Society (W.P.S.); member of World Haiku Association, Japan; presented papers in the seminar, interviews as special guest at international literary festival WORDS – one path to peace and understanding Oslo, Norway in September 2008; attended 20th Annual International Literary Festival Druskininkai Poetic Fall and 5th World Haiku Association Conference in Lithuania, Sept 30 to Oct 5, 2009; published poetry in Indian Verse by Young Poets (1980), World Poetry (1995 & 1996), The Fabric of A Vision (2001), The Still Horizon (2002), The Golden Wings (2002), Voyages (2003), Symphonies (2003), New Pegasus (2004), Explorers (2004), Dwan (USA), Promise (Purple Rose Publications, USA), World Haiku 2008 No. 4, World Haiku 2009 No. 5, Taj Mahal Review (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008). He has also edited sixteen World Poetry Anthologies, and four books of World’s Great Short Stories. He is also the author of a collection of poems entitled Helicon (Cyberwit, India, ISBN 81-901366-8-2), Haiku collection New Utopia (Rochak Publishing, India ISBN 978-81-903812-0-8), NO NUKES: Brave New World of Beauty, A Long Narrative Poem, Songs of Peace & Haiku (Rochak Publishing, India ISBN 978-81-903812-3-9), and Critical Essays in collaboration with Adam Donaldson Powell (Cyberwit, India, 978-81-8253-110-9). He has also edited The Poetic Achievement of Ban’ya Natsuishi (Cyberwit, India, ISBN: 978-81-8253-149-9).

Reviews of “Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo: an alternative biography.”

“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. This ‘biography’ is thus constructed and written in a way that is more akin to a cinematic portrait — rather than an academic Wikipedia profile.”



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 the publisher’s page 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”


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.

Powell’s study is important, for almost all of Russo’s work has been printed by small presses and/or university distributors and is not easily gathered. In addition, Powell’s particular focus is highly valuable, for it brings into compact view the issues and journeys of Russo’s fables and fiction and his social, personal, and literary commentaries.

— Martin Tucker, Editor Emeritus at Confrontation Magazine

The book is included in the collection of the
Mukanda Central Africa documentation resource center.

Mukanda has some very illustrious academics in its network. See HERE!

Adam Donaldson Powell, author


UNDER THE SHIRTTAILS OF ALBERT RUSSO — an alternative biography.

Comment from the author:

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.

— Adam Donaldson Powell, 2018



‪J’ACCUSE, J’ACCUSE ET J’ACCUSE … by Albert Russo.‬

‪This is the « rant and rage » essay by ex-Parisian Albert Russo that convinced me to interview him critically, and to write my latest book: « Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo » :‬


(Photo courtesy Blikk Magazine)

(Photo courtesy Per Eidspjeld)

Buy my books online at:

Amazon USA, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, Amazon France, Amazon Germany, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Japan, and Amazon Australia.

Most of my books can also be ordered directly from my publisher in India, at https://www.cyberwit.net/authors/adam-d-powell

“Gaytude”, the National Indie Excellence Award Winner for best book in the category gay/lesbian nonfiction, can also be ordered directly from Xlibris at http://www.xlibris.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-0035827003

My latest book “Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo” can be ordered directly through the publisher, as well as many other places on the internet and by ordering it at your local bookstore. Visit the publisher’s webpage here: http://l-aleph.com/project/under-the-shirttails-of-albert-russo-an-alternative-biography-by-adam-donaldson-powell/

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“Entre Nous et Eux” — my latest book featuring contemporary LGBTQ world literature.



This arousing and provocative book of poetry and novellas in English and French is the author’s latest approach to what he terms as “Extreme literature”. According to Powell: “‘Extreme literature’ can be philosophical, political, religious, sexually-oriented, profane, or just downright ‘dangerous’ because it rocks others’ boat(s) personally. Not all literature is ‘pretty’, and even humour can be considered provocative. Art is the ultimate expression of the process of rebellion. If an artist loses that quality, he/she ‘dies’ in a certain way. In this latest book ‘Entre Nous et Eux’ extreme literature is explored through the lens of LGBT-sexuality and personal identity, and in a multilingual and multicultural context.” Powell’s “Gaytude” – co-authored with award-winning author Albert Russo – won the 2009 National Indie Excellence Award for the category gay/lesbian nonfiction. Isagani R. Cruz called Powell’s sci-fi novel “The Tunnel at the End of Time” a new way of writing, and wrote: “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.” Dr. Santosh Kumar has written: “There is no doubt that Powell, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, Randall Jarrell, and Delmore Schwartz are the most talented American poets of the modern age.” — Dr. Santosh Kumar, Allahabad University, 2010, from his book entitled: “Adam Donaldson Powell: the making of a poet.” And Albert Russo has written in his foreword to “Entre Nous et Eux”: “… I urge you to read these humble lines, for you will never regret having tasted the equal of our century’s Verlaine, Rimbaud or Baudelaire. Adam Donaldson Powell’s own FLEURS DU MAL are flowers to be treasured a lifetime.”



If there is one poet who will mark this 21st century, I ask you, dear reader and lover of literature, to discover, or rediscover an artist named Adam Donaldson Powell. I use both words purposely: literature and art, because this “Esprit Universel” is a multi-talented man who excels in whatever discipline he tackles: poetry, fiction, essays, photography, painting, and goodness knows what else. He probably has other hidden secrets that will enchant the aesthete, once he pulls them out of his magic hat. By the way, he also writes in several languages. And proficiently, what’s more! 

It is much too restrictive to call Adam Donaldson Powell a gay poet, or gay whatever. And yet, he describes love, gay or not, with the most sensual, elegant, compassionate, but also at times crude, vengeful and downright poisonous words. He wears ‘no gloves’ as the French say, when it comes to telling a story – yes, his poems have themes too, which makes them reachable to the adult public, even to those who don’t care much for poetry – of abused children, scorned transvestites, sons and daughters of mixed blood, or prostitutes who are prey to the most despicable whoremongers, roaming the streets of every capital and city, large and small, of our planet. But, oh lovers of beauty and eroticism of the finest quality, delve into some of his romantic poems and you will dream that you are the hero or the heroine of these verses! It has often been my case. 

There are millions of scribblers on the Net who think they are poets. Some excellent poets do exist, but here I urge you to read these humble lines, for you will never regret having tasted the equal of our century’s Verlaine, Rimbaud or Baudelaire. Adam Donaldson Powell’s own FLEURS DU MAL are flowers to be treasured a lifetime. 

  • Albert Russo 2017



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“Extreme literature” can be philosophical, political, religious, sexually-oriented, profane, or just downright ‘dangerous’ because it rocks others’ boat(s) personally. Not all literature is “pretty”, and even humour can be considered provocative. Many authors have works they (and others) consider to be “extreme”. All throughout the history of art and literature, artists and writers have pressed against and played with society’s tolerances – in both “liberal” epochs, “conservative” epochs and (as now) in states of “moral confusion”, where Western concepts of freedom of speech sometimes butt against national and local cultural mores and social politics; and where danger lurks and thrives on non-specific and situational social codes and fears.

The concept of ‘EXTREME ART AND LITERATURE’ changes all the time. What is actually ‘extreme’ today – in a mixture of globalised, regionalised, nationalised and localised perspectives? My own opinion is that ‘extreme art and literature’ today takes its starting point in the accepted banalities of everyday life, experiences and consciousness on the respective and combined levels (social, philosophical, political, economical, sexual and spiritual). Contemporary ‘extreme art / literature’ no longer attempts to shock in an obvious way, but rather entices the public to feel that he / she is a ‘member’ of the experiential understanding and consciousness, only to interject a “triggering” aspect that creates a sense of uncomfortableness caused by the realization that one has been busted by a banality. These “trigger mechanisms” are (in fact) integral parts of the art itself – often passing by in fleeting moments, sometimes blended in with an obsessive and “flat” (journalistic or photojournalistic) expression or a long tirade of banalities that do not even pretend to be surrealistic. These small “electrical shock” triggers will hopefully ignite an inner experience within the public so that the viewer / reader begins to investigate his / her own personal reality, his / her actual contributions to a collective reality and hopefully to re-evaluate his / her own concept of what one prefers to create as an individual and collective reality. The illusion of spiritual and emotion separation (the illusion that we are all separate, individual and self-sustaining entities that can determine our roles on Terra or in the Interlife totally without contact or influence with / from others) is a vital element here, and that common illusion is therefore “fertile ground” for artists. Here we artists and authors can play, provoke, prevaricate, entice, seduce and fool the audience to believe in us as a part of “themselves”, and then trigger the reader / viewer to consider the possibility that there might be (in fact) a miscommunication or misconception running loose … a sense of everyday reality that is inconsistent or which has consequences that one was never aware of.

Perhaps the most meaningful and interactive way to help another person to ‘wake up’ from their perceptual drowsiness is to enter into their everyday dreams and illusions (their banalities) and suddenly say “BOO !!!” Artists and authors who attempt to shock through their art with the blatantly obvious, often thus fail to explore and exploit the deeper, symbolic depths of the subconscious and the more mystical elements that make up our everyday and banal thoughts, activities, attitudes etc., and therefore are denied “personal access” by some viewers / readers who may consider the art to be too intellectual, too elitist, too directly confrontational, or too foreign. Sex and religion are often used today in art and literature as “shock elements”. It is not necessarily sex or religion which are provocative or interesting in themselves, but rather the unspoken and quietly accepted perceptions that we chain ourselves to unquestionably, and which can totally be set in chaos just by the artist and author changing or adding one simple element or context that we do not feel belongs in our reality-defining “picture”.

‘Extreme art and literature’ is thus not blatantly provocative in itself; it rather shows the audience the possible ramifications of acceptance, non-involvement, personal meanings and behaviour by confronting us with triggered or mixed in ‘extreme’ moments, and then lets the audience choose to begin its own personal creative life process of evalution and re-creation (if desired) … without commentary or guidance.
When I recently presented myself to Marina Abramovic as a “retired activist” she responded by asking me if an activist can ever be finished with activism. Of course, she is right. The process of rebellion is nothing more than one intermittent set of activities and actions in a constant redefining and assertion of the Self, both individually and collectively. Art is the ultimate expression of the process of rebellion. If an artist loses that quality, he/she “dies” in a certain way. My art and literature are not just extensions of me … they are my created persona: a sweet mixture of heaven and hell, with a pinch of mediocrity for flavoring.

In this latest book “Entre Nous et Eux” extreme literature is explored through the lens of LGBT-sexuality and personal identity, and in a multilingual and multicultural context.

Adam Donaldson Powell, Norway



tunnel front and back cover

By Irene Brodsky on June 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
“The Tunnel At The End of Time” written in English/Russian by Adam Donaldson Powell and Rick Davis, with foreword by Adam Donaldson Powell and Azsacra Zarathustra.

It is an honor to review this most eye-opening, very well written and beautifully expressed book of poetry & drama that was written in two languages; and also includes a 14 Act Play! The book appears to be a serious look into one’s self, soul, being, spirit, surroundings, thoughts, reactions, and can be seen as philosophical, religious, mystical, spiritual, anger, reaching out for an answer, telling it like it is, no holds barred. I recommend this outstanding book for adults, age 18 & over because there is some strong language to express one’s deep feelings.

This book would be an excellent addition to the libraries and I am giving my own personal copy of this book to the landmark Brooklyn Public Library Grand Army Plaza Central Branch. It is my recommendation that the library catalog this book, and place it on their shelf where it can be shared by many readers. In this way, Mr. Powell’s magnificent book will be automatically added to The World Catalog of Books which is the greatest honor a writer can ever have.

It was my pleasure to review Mr. Powell’s book and recommend it very highly.

Irene Brodsky, Faculty Member Brooklyn College City University of New York
Teacher of Philosophy – adult education program
author of Poetry Unplugged
and The Adventures of Silly Kitty, Princess Jasmine and First Puppy

🔳 A New Way of Writing
By Isagani R. Cruz on March 5, 2010
Format: Paperback

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!

🔳 Powell’s great interest in spiritual alchemy and extra-sensory world inspired him to write THE TUNNEL AT THE END OF TIME
By Dr. Karunesh Kumar Agrawal on September 8, 2012
Format: Paperback

Powell’s great interest in spiritual alchemy and extra-sensory world inspired him to write THE TUNNEL AT THE END OF TIME (Feb 2010) in collaboration with Rick Davis, the follow-up novella to 2014 with a poetic introduction by both Powell and Azsacra Zarathustra a poetic dialogue with the Russian artist/author Azsacra Zarathustra, entitled: “Transforma und Vrebatima,” an English-Russian poetic follow-up to “2014: the life and adventures of an incarnated angel” TRANSFORMA UND VREBATIMA is an epic poem, written by Azsacra Zarathustra (Russia) and Adam Donaldson Powell (Norway), primarily in English and Russian.



ADAM DONALDSON POWELL (Norway) is a multilingual author, literary critic, and art photography critic; and a professional visual artist. He has published several literary books (including collections of poetry, short stories, and novellas, two science fiction novels, and essays) in the USA, Norway and India; as well as numerous works in international literary publications on several continents. He writes in English, Spanish, French and Norwegian. He has previously authored theatrical works performed onstage, and he has read his poetry at venues in New York City (USA), Oslo (Norway), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Kathmandu (Nepal). His book “Gaytude” (co-authored with Albert Russo) won the 2009 National Indie Excellence Award in the category gay/lesbian non-fiction. Powell was also the winner of the Azsacra International Poetry Award in 2008, and the recipient of a Norwegian Foreign Ministry travel stipend for authors in 2005. Powell also took initiative to planning and organizing the “Words – one path to peace and understanding” international literary festival in Oslo, Norway in 2008. He has been an author under the Cyberwit label since 2005, and he has published 12 literary books since 1987.





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