Who is Roman Payne?

roman-payne_007_sepia_websiRoman Payne (b. 1977) is a novelist and poet currently living in political exile in Africa, in the kingdom of Morocco.  Payne coined the famous word “wanderess” and is the author of five novels including, “The Wanderess”; which, since its publication in 2013,  has influenced art and cultures all over the world.  In the East, the famous Bollywood designer Masaba Gupta used Payne’s novel as the inspiration for her “Wanderess” collection which opened India’s Fashion Week in 2015.  In the West, “The Wanderess” has been the inspiration for everything from art, to European films, to pop music in America.   The pop star Halsey, who sold-out Madison Square Garden with songs like “Hurricane”—a song based on a quote from Payne’s novel—credits “The Wanderess” as one of her greatest inspirations while writing “Badlands,” the debut album that launched her to fame.  Halsey chose this Roman Payne quote for her song:

 

 

“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.”

 

 

And the following quote by Roman Payne became one of the mantras of billionaire Richard Branson, who named it one of his “top ten favorite quotes about finding happiness”:

 

 

“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.”

 

 

Although Payne’s greatest artistic achievements are his novels, he is better known to the world as a poet.  Countless works of art have been based on his poems and quotes.  The author said that one of the things he loves most about being a novelist/poet is the numerous photos sent to him from people around the world who have tattooed his poetry on their bodies.

 

 

Payne is a controversial figure in that he is currently exiled in Muslim Morocco where he is forbidden to leave kingdom until he is tried for treason by the king (Mohammed VI).  Both the US Congress and State Department have failed so far in obtaining the novelist’s release from Morocco.  Payne is spending his days of exile in the souks of the ancient Medina of Marrakech,.

 

 

Roman Payne is known as an adventurer, and the foremost “novelist on wandering.” His novels and poems are the favorites of other wanderers and world travelers.

 

The forty year-old author spent the first half of his life in America (mostly in Seattle where he was born and raised), while he spent his second 20 years wandering Europe and Africa.  He first expatriated to Paris where he lived for fifteen years in the neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.  The next three years were spent in Athens, Greece; mainland Spain and the Canary Islands.  Payne moved to Marrakech in February of 2016 and is currently finishing his sixth novel based on his life there.

 

Although Payne writes in English, his 15 years living in Paris where he spoke entirely in French, has greatly influenced his work, giving it a unique Latinate quality and inimitable voice. The themes of his quotes and prose explore love and sexuality, travel and the life of a wanderer (or wanderess), and the struggle to live, what he calls, “the poetic life.” He is heavily influenced by Homeric Epic, as well as 18th and 19th Century French and European literature.

 

Payne is a beloved writer by feminists and women in general because his inspirational words to women remind them that they too, like men, only have one life to live as far as we know, thus they too deserve to experience every single adventure that life can offer them.  He receives a lot of letters from women who write that they found the courage to wander to remote countries after reading quores from him like this one: “Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without travelling” (“Love of Europa”).

 

This is what Halsey wrote about Payne:

 

“I stumbled upon this book when I was a teenager and its words helped to shape my will to be unapologetic, to be unbound by the perimeters of a single place. To write a song like Hurricane. To be like, The Wanderess.” – Halsey, March 2016

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“THE WINE OF A WOMAN”

THE WINE OF A WOMAN (by Roman Payne)

 

Ô, she came to my bed
and begged me with sighs
not to tempt her towards passion
nor actions unwise.

.

I told her I’d spare her
and kissed her closed eyes,
then unbraided her body
of its clothing disguise

.

While our bodies were nude
bathed in candlelight fine
I devoured her mouth,
tender lips divine;
and I drank through her thighs
her feminine wine.

 

Ô, the wine of a woman
from heaven is sent,
more perfect than all
that a man can invent.

.

– Roman Payne (October, 2016, Marrakech)

About Roman Payne

Roman Payne (b. 1977) coined the famous word “wanderess” and is the author of the world-renowned novel, “The Wanderess.”  He is best known for his poetry, although critics consider his five novels his greatest achievement.  Payne is a controversial novelist in that he is currently living in exile in Africa, in Muslim Morocco, where the government has seized his passports and forbids him to leave the country.

 

Roman Payne’s novels and poems are the favorites of wanderers and vagabonds.  He himself wandered the world for half of his life (the forty year-old Payne spent his first twenty years in America [mostly in Seattle where he was born and raised], and the second twenty years of his life wandering in Europe).  He lived in Paris for fifteen years in the neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.  He also lived in Greece, Spain, Turkey, and travelled through all of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe.  He moved to Marrakech, Morocco in February of 2016 and is not yet permitted to leave.  The US State Department is currently fighting with the Moroccan government for his release.

Although Payne writes in English, his 15 years living in Paris where he spoke entirely in French, has greatly influenced his work, giving it a unique Latinate quality and inimitable voice. Payne’s literary quotes have inspired the lives and works of many artists and famous people, from pop-singers to world leaders. The themes of his quotes and prose explore travel, devoting one’s life to wandering, love and sexuality, femininity and self-empowerment for both women and men (the rise of the individual to live the “heroic life”). He is heavily influenced by Homeric Epic, as well as 18th and 19th Century French and European literature.

Payne achieved literary success in 2013 with the publication of his famous novel, “The Wanderess.” In 2015, “The Wanderess” served as the inspiration for India’s Fashion Week when Payne’s fan, the Bollywood designer, Masaba Gupta, was inspired by the book to create her collection which opened Fashion Week.  One year later, the pop star, Halsey (who was still an unknown artist at that point) used poetry from “The Wanderess” to compose her song, “Hurricane” (a song that helped propel her to overnight fame).  Halsey wrote this to her fans:

 

“I stumbled upon this book when I was a teenager and its words helped to shape my will to be unapologetic, to be unbound by the perimeters of a single place. To write a song like Hurricane. To be like, ‘The Wanderess’” – Halsey (Feb, 2016)

“Poem to Soukaïna”

“Poem to Soukaïna”


To tell of my new Moroccan Love,

Ô, I court her everyday.

But just as a pearl in the mud is a pearl,

So is my Love just an Arab girl…

in that I offer her constant, loving woos,

but she’ll ask me in return that I give her flooze*.

That’s when I kiss her and shrug, and I say, “Someday.”

And she gives me her love free anyway.

 

Ô, my Love is a child of the souks.

In Casablanca born.

A gypsy thief, “Soukaïna” named.

We met in the souks of Marrakech,

It was here my heart she tamed.

Ô, she came at nineteen to Marrakech,

In search of wild fun.

And she lived in Marrakech seven years,

Before my heart she won.

 

*Flooze: (Arabic slang word for “money.”)