Landscape and memory are seamlessly merged in this excellent volume. Like all the best writers of place, Scott Owens finds the heart’s universal concerns in his vivid rendering of piedmont Carolina.
–Ron Rash, author of Raising the Dead
There’s not a speck of sentimentality in the rural poetic Americana framed by Scott Owens in FOR ONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO OWN LAND. There are dead crows, red dirt earth, barking dogs, burning coal, fox traps, and flooding rivers. These stories matter. The poems all rattle and sing. This is a jolt of strong coffee for a watery time.
–John Lane, author of The Woods Stretched for Miles: Contemporary Nature Writing from the South
In For One Who Knows How to Own Land, poet, Scott Owens creates with a mature voice, childhood reminiscences of pastoral summers in the red dirt rural Piedmont of upstate South Carolina. This, his most affecting collection to date, is a remarkable sensory journey that registers narrative moments along the entire emotional scale from harsh to tender, from the threatening to the anodyne. Through the magical nature of memory, these poems of mystery and loss prove again and again that “The boy who left this country/never stopped hearing its names/echo in his ear.”
–Tim Peeler, author of Checking Out
“Why should this be home?” Scott Owens asks us in “Homeplace,” his question as much about leaving as going back. We walk his train tracks and ridges as if they were our own, as though home were “something you held tight before you, /your back bending against its going away.” In this both visceral and meditative rendering of place, decay and rebirth are part of the same landscape. I applaud the skill that directs us down a path of experience and familiarity to “stone steps/ that dead-end in mid-air.” His poetry is wise in knowing the weight of its own footsteps.
– Linda Annas Ferguson, author of Dirt Sandwich
The poems of ‘For One Who Knows How to Own Land’ are accessible even to those who claim not to love poetry, or those who don’t read poetry. These are poems without a drop of manipulative sentimentality. Filled with crystalline memories from a perspective of clear maturity, “Breakings” describes breaking in forms you’ve not given a thought to: not only mirrors and bottles but husbands, children, land and habits. “Rails” is written in an unpretentious voice that brings you in until you are walking those rails as a child, reading dirty magazines and sneaking cigarettes. I read this book at a clip because I didn’t want to put it down, and then again with care and reverence because I didn’t want the poems to end. Great read and will stay on my bookshelf for years to come, dropping into my hands occasionally to re-read these poems over a cup of tea.
The Poems in “For One Who Knows How to Own Land” are essential to understanding our humanity and its relationship to the Earth. This book will take you through an incredible journey themed on the brutality of rural life, the sanctuaries inside the self, and how in some way, we can be redeemed. The poems are perfect in their detailed descriptions of memory and how each relate to the larger world. I found myself pulled in by the each story inside each poem. At times, painful to absorb, the book forces the reader to understand how savage our lives can be, yet how delicate and intertwined. I could not put the book down once I picked it up. Scott Owens is the master of metaphor and symbolism and this book is a shining example of his incredible talent. “For One Who Knows the Land” is a truly a must read. Excellent poetry books transform something inside you. This book has indeed, done that for me.
–Connie Post, Author of And When the Sun Drops
Review by Karen Mason in North Carolina Literary Review, Spring 2013
Review by Richard Allen Taylor in Referential Magazine
Review by Royce Hamel in Pirene’s Fountain
Review by Celisa Steele in Pirene’s Fountain
Other reviews by Ronald Moran in South Carolina Review, Fall 2012; and Joel Ferdon in Main Street Rag, Spring 2012
The Weight of Teaching, 2013
Garrison Keillor Reads “Rails” on The Writer’s Almanac, 29 April 2012
Cover Art by Clayton Joe Young. See more here.