Praise for Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush
Naomi Skwarna in the National Post:
“There are certain, rare story collections that sit on the shelf as a kind of gem box rather than a book: Salinger’s Nine Stories, Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Raymond Carver’s Short Cuts, Lorrie Moore’s Like Life, to name a few. Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush is of a piece with the work of these old guard masters – authors of ten-page epics that call you back again and again with their ringing lines and luminous images. Within Powell’s 15 stories, it is impossible to pick a crown jewel. Each one feels like the favourite until the next.”
Read the rest of the review here.
Steven Beattie in the Globe and Mail:
“Powell, whose 2014 poetry collection, Inheritance, was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, is less subtle than Munro and her stories traffic in a rougher, grittier milieu. None of which is meant as a slight to Powell’s ability as a stylist – which is considerable – or her capacity to elicit genuine emotion from her characters and their situations. The writing in Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush is admirably direct and pared-down, a welcome change from the tendency of poets to overcompensate when shifting to the putatively airier prose form. Of course, poetry and short fiction share a common bond in their reliance on rigorous concentration of language; Powell is adept at employing this to good effect in stories that never end up in quite the places you expect them to.” Read the whole review here.
There Are Two Pools You May Drink From wins the Boston Review’s Aura Estrada Short Story Award. “There Are Two Pools You May Drink From is a quiet, powerful story full of dark nostalgia and observed in sharp vivid prose. It’s a remembrance of the Moon family with their ‘big cat-killing dog that they had trained to sit upright on a chair at the table’ which they took turns feeding buttered toast smeared with jam.” Nathan Englander
“The title is terrific to begin with -lovely, ominous, with fairy tale echoes, and the story plays out that sense of unsettling stillness and depth, keeps it pouring on and on.” A review of There Are Two Pools You May Drink From at The Black Letters.
Palace Of The Brine wins the Malahat Review’s Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction. “Palace Of The Brine is a literary high-wire act, not for the faint of heart. The denizens of the crumbling Coronet Hotel are at home with brutality, it’s the organizing principle of the life they’ve come to know.” Alissa York.
Palace Of The Brine wins a Pushcart Prize Best of the Small Presses Special Mention, alongside Joyce Carol Oates, Laura Van den Berg, and Aimee Bender.
Palace Of The Brine selected for Best Canadian Stories, edited by John Metcalf
Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush shortlisted for Black Lawrence Press’s Black River Award.
There Are Two Pools You May Drink From featured story on the University of Pittsburgh’s Longform.
Praise for Inheritance
“Powell’s poems are full of lively vignettes in which realism strikes lyrical sparks off harshness.” Times Literary Supplement
“Powell’s The Wreckage is a collection of clear-eyed, slow-burning lyrics inspired by the psychological struggle and suicide of her father.” Times Literary Supplement
“Her work draws in the reader with the anecdotal verve of good short stories and transfixes with exacting imagery.” Harvard Review
“The reader becomes a complicit witness to these extreme lives. Like the audience to Electra or Antigone, we may feel horrified, then cleansed and purged with pity and fear at Powell’s portrayal of the human and the holy.” Arc Poetry Magazine
“The strength of Powell’s Inheritance stems from image and evocation, its variations in tone and focus, from elegy to fury and back.” The Malahat Review
“This remarkable debut isn’t light reading, the dark pulse driving it is family history as trauma and the devastating legacy of war. But its tight rhythms, startling images, and vivid, arresting turns of phrase make it utterly compelling.” Toronto Star
The Girls Who Work At The Makeup Counter featured on Verse Daily.
Poet and Novelist Helen Humphreys gives Inheritance a shout-out on CBC Canada Writes.
“Her work draws in the reader with the anecdotal verve of good short stories and transfixes with
“A scourging, searing swat of emotional intensity.” A rave for Inheritance on Today’s Book of Poetry
“It is the simplest lines that are sometimes the most beautiful, lines that in their mastery find themselves on the other side of simplicity. Somehow it’s the matter-of-fact directness of the lines, time, place and action, that disguises the depths in every sense of the experience. There’s almost an Anglo-Saxon quality to this verse, you come just short of hearing definite caesura- a pause in the middle of these lines, a sense of the poem’s rhythms made up of so many lengths of lumber.”HJefferey Donaldson at the Jeweller’s Eye
Inheritance is one of poet Amanda Jernigan’s favourite books of the year at Canadian Notes and Queries.
“She uses lyricism and formal stanzas to create a poem which is a verse object of great beauty.” Anthony Howell’s article ‘Words ‘dreadful as the abortions of angels’: War in Literature: the work of Walter Owen, Edward Field, and Kerry-Lee Powell in The Fortnightly Review.
Ship’s Biscuit in The Spectator