Marja-Leena Rathje
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Mercy Island


I am thrilled and honoured to have one of my very favourite and special-to-me photographs on the cover of Mercy Island, a collection of new and selected poetry by Ren Powell and just published by Phoenicia.

Ren (Katherine) Powell is a writer, translator, poet, and native Californian living on the west coast of Norway. She has published four full-length collections of poetry and eleven books of translations, and her poetry has been translated and published in six languages. (more)

See also the press release on Ren's blog* with which I've been delighted to recently get acquainted. I can understand Phoenicia's editor Beth Adams' feeling for a certain kind of connection in Ren's Nordic home and my own Nordic roots and love of rocks in making this choice of image, with Ren's approval as well. As Beth wrote elsewhere: "I'm so grateful for the artistic cross-fertilization that goes on here!" I am too, with my heartfelt thanks to both Beth and Ren.

Now I can hardly wait to hold and read the book. I hope interested readers will consider purchasing a copy directly from Phoenicia Publishing where more of your purchase goes to the author and to the support of independent publishing. Best of success to Ren's new "baby" as it goes out into the world!

You may be interested in visiting my old blog post concerning this image, which I've always called 'fetus rock'. Do you see another connection there?


March 24th, 2011: More about Mercy Island, including a review by Rachen Barenblat at my post called lichen

March 31st, 2011: Another most interestingly written review including some gratifying comments about the cover by Carolee Sherwood. Thanks for sending it to me, Beth!

*August 2, 2011: I've just discovered Ren Powell has changed her blog and some of its contents. Visit it here.

Marja-Leena | 03/03/2011 | 22 comments
themes: Books, Meta-morphosis, Photography


Thank you for the kind words, Marja. I know you aren't on facebook to see the tens of comments about the cover, but everyone is saying how gorgeous it is. I didn't even know that Fetus Rock was the title of the work, my son and husband said it looked like a fetus. When Beth put it in quotes I thought it was because of that. Perfect! Some things are meant to be.

It really is an amazing photo, Marja-Leena, and marries perfectly with the book. Wishing you and the author and Phoenicia the greatest success.

Ren, thanks for letting me know about all the positive comments, of course I'm pleased. Interesting that your family saw the 'fetus' in the rock too. I agree, some things are meant to be, like when all the stars are aligned, some say.

Natalie, I'm glad you like the image too, and thanks for the good wishes for the book's success.

Hmm. i have to see if the book would be noticed here in Finland. Maybe thru some Same-connections?

At least Norway is one of the leading Same cultural centers up here in Lapland.

I think I have ordered the book. I hope so, and will see whether I get a confirming email.

The picture is beautiful.

No doubt about the connection. The sort image that I often look for.

Ripsa, I do hope you can find the book somewhere in Finland, at least online.

Anne, thanks , both for ordering and liking the image!

Joe, that is good.

Congratulations. That is beautiful.

Serendipity strikes again. The photograph is marvelous and I'll try to get the book.

Hattie, thank you.

Susan, serendipity indeed! I'm eagerly waiting for the book.

I meant that if I could somehow get it known here, and possibly in libraries or bookstores. That is a bit harder thing to do, of course. I have only experience, that bookstores and libraries are trying to avoid getting more books, lately.

A library would be a good start.

Ripsa, sorry I misunderstood. How very kind of you to consider how to share this book in libraries and stores in Finland. Here in Canada, I think one can make suggestions to our libraries for book purchases but they would still be subject to budgets, I imagine. I have no experience with this nor with bookshops. Reviews would probably help a bit. Is there much interest and demand for English-language books on poetry over there?

Congratulations, it is great when someone wants an image to use in a creative way like that isn't it?

I need to go on a shopping spree at Phoenicia I think...

Marja-Leena, there are many bloggers that also publish in English, for instance this one: who also publish in Finnish here: and he's from Turku.

Today he's wondering would there be someone translating collected poems by Philip Whalen. And comes to conclusion, as the book is more than 800 pages, that people just have to read him in English.

Of course, there is much more (percentagewise) translated literature into Finnish than there is into English. That's always the case of the small languages.

Lucy, yes, it certainly is a great feeling, another way for an artist to show off her work! Phoenicia has some great books on offer, I have a few now.

Ripsa, thanks for the links, I will explore! I read quite a number of Finnish bloggers in both Finnish and English. Yes, I've long been aware that there are a very large percentage of foreign books translated into Finnish, but far less the other way around. I always got the impression that Finns read a lot and have seen even modest homes all have large bookshelves full of books.

I have a lot of old Finnish books from my youth as well as many of my parents' books, some still yet to be read because I'm so slow with Finnish though it would be good for me. I'm guilty of generally not buying many novels and only few Finnish books as I'm a library user. I did recently buy Sofi Oksanen's Purge (the English translation) because I was able to get it in Canada (but not in the library). I few years ago I bought some rock art books by Pekka Kivinen straight from Finland and got hit with a huge duty charge so that left a bitter taste about buying that way.

what an amazing pairing! it's wonderful, how exciting! x!

"Sweet!" as the young ones around here would say. I followed the link and read a few of the poems. Wow. I'm joining Lucy on her shopping spree. Your photo cover is a perfect pairing.

Elisa, thanks, yes it is exciting.

Rouchswalwe, thanks for the support!

I saw the fetus right away! What a wonderful image. So glad it worked out for you and the poet to have your image on her work. I'm hoping to check out the poetry inside when I have a chance. Still catching up here.

Leslee, thanks. I'm very happy this fabulous opportunity came forth and worked out so beautifully. I'm eagerly looking forward to reading the poems. Wish I could meet Ren in person at one of her readings, such as this one in Michigan.

Marja-Leena, thank you for promoting the book as well as sharing your wonderful artwork! I'm thrilled to be featuring your work at Phoenicia and very grateful to your readers for their support!

Beth, I'm grateful and thrilled that you've given me this opportunity, so, many thanks to you too!