Category Archives: Books

(2013) Selected Poems CD

Poems Included:

1. Breakings (from For One Who Knows How to Own Land, FutureCycle, 2012)
2. How Sounds Became Flowers, Flowers Turned to Faces (from The Fractured World, Main Street Rag, 2008)
3. Fates Worse Than Death (from The Fractured World, Main Street Rag, 2008)
4. Foundings (from Paternity, Main Street Rag, 2010)
5. Acts of Defiance (from For One Who Knows How to Own Land, FutureCycle, 2012)
6. Looking for Faces in the Night Sky (from Something Knows the Moment, Main Street Rag, 2011)
7. Theology (from Paternity, Main Street Rag, 2010)
8. Common Ground (from Something Knows the Moment, Main Street Rag, 2011)
9. Father and Son (unpublished)
10. All the Meaningful Noise (unpublished)
11. Towards a Poetics of Excess (unpublished)
12. Imperative (unpublished)
13. You Do It for the Ones (unpublished)
14. Of Ten or More in a Room (unpublished)
15. Breaking Morning (unpublished)
16. Making Amends (unpublished)
17. Used (unpublished)
18. Generations (unpublished)
19. Owned (unpublished)
20. So Norman Died, Of Course (from The Fractured World, Main Street Rag, 2008)

(1993) The Persistence of Faith

(2008) Deceptively Like a Sound

(2008) The Fractured World

Nothing prepared me for the immediacy and yet intimacy of the poems in Fractured World. Nor the intensely painful revelations about our woundedness and vulnerability, not to mention our despair at being turned into empty vessels by the “game” of a world divided into sides always at war with each other. As “Taking the Field declares, “And this is the way/you play the game/…you are nothing unless you win,” says the black booted man who draws a line and tells you, “whoever stands/across that line/is your enemy…/and you must hit him/and you must beat him/until he falls…”The irony in these often bruising poems is that the winner in this game becomes the lost one, the numbed and empty one who moves through his world either enraged or numbed. Scott Owens has given us a powerful, disturbing look at our contemporary fractured world.
–Kathryn Stripling Byer, NC Poet Laureate Emeritus

Scott Owens’ poems grab the reader by the throat from the opening line and don’t let go, unspooling down the page with verve and startling moments of insight and imagination. He’s the real thing.
–Ron Rash, author of Serena

The Fractured World” is a courageous examination of the long term effects of child abuse in our society. Owens’ poems are at times heartbreaking, at times humorous, yet always triumphant.
–Tim Peeler, author of Checking Out

Review by Dannye Romine Powell in The Charlotte Observer, 5 Oct 2008
Review by Zinta Aistars in The Smoking Poet, 2009
Review by Kristina Darling in The Pedestal Magazine, 2008
Review by Helen Losse in The Centrifugal Eye, 2009
Review by Tim Peeler in Wild Goose Poetry Review, 2008

Essay on The Fractured World by Chaz Aguilar, 2010
What One Poet Said about The Fractured World, 2013

Garrison Keillor Reads “On the Days I Am Not My Father” on The Writer’s Almanac, 7 Nov 2008

Publisher’s Website Listing
Goodreads Listing

(2009) Book of Days

(2010) Paternity

Poems of aching tenderness. Paternity explores with a discerning, clear-eyed sensitivity the daily small delights, frustrations, and purely unexpected miracles that, taken together, make up the building blocks of one father’s personal salvation.”
—Joanna Catherine Scott, author of Night Huntress and Fainting at the Uffizi

“In Scott Owens’ lovely book of poems, PATERNITY, we have a remarkable account of how his very special relationship with his young daughter, Sawyer, has saved him from the darkness of his own childhood. The poems are engaging in the deepest sense–funny, touching, and full of the kind of wisdom we all need as parents and family members to sustain the balance of daily life. How can anyone resist a girl who makes up the word, “effluctress,” to describe what only a four-year old can see.”
–Anthony S. Abbott, author of THE MAN WHO.

“I’ve never been this strong before/ can only hope I’ll hold this joy,” writes Scott Owens in “Naming.” Poem by poem, Paternity builds a father’s world—its fears and joys, its vows, which are too often and too easily broken. Looming over the lives of his children is the childhood of the man who speaks these poems, memories which make the poet grateful for “the days I am not my father.” It is this ability to feel the weight of the past on his present life and the work of resisting that past even as he builds the present his children live in that makes Paternity a book that should be read not only by parents but by anyone interested in poems that can disturb and console in the same breath.
–Al Maginnes, author of Ghost Alphabet

Review by Helen Losse in Goodreads
Review by Ami Kaye in Pirene’s Fountain
Review by Helen Losse in Dead Mule
Review by Janelle Adsit in The Pedestal Magazine
Review by Jackie Regales in JMWW
Review by Ann Chandonnet in Observer News Enterprise
Review by Pris Campbell in Goodreads
Review by Karla Lynn Merrifield in The Centrifugal Eye
Review by Jessie Carty in Poets Quarterly

Publisher’s Website Listing
Goodreads Listing

Cover Art by Clayton Joe Young. See more here.

(2010) The Nature of Attraction

When Scott Owens pitched The Nature of Attraction to me, he presented me with a dilemma. The Author’s Select Chapbook Series was designed to have authors for whom Main Street Rag had already published books recommend other authors who would be new to Main Street Rag. The dilemma was that Scott is also a contributor to this collection. On the other hand, there might not be a collection had Pris Campbell not read Scott’s poem “Norman’s Enormous Thing” and been inspired by it enough that she started her own series “Norman” poems. Thus began a collaborative where Pris and Scott would exchange poems and recommendations for poems and from that process, The Nature of Attraction was born. Since I could not let Scott recommend himself…

You hear multiple voices in The Nature of Attraction, but not by contrast, more by the harmonic way these voices mesh together, the way words and ideas fold together to form an image, a phrase, a meaning that transcends an individual thought and becomes something shared. That’s how it is with this collaboration between Pris Campbell and Scott Owens. In these poems, a lifetime passes for Sara and Norman, a lifetime of great joy and great sadness, of longing and resignation that wanting isn’t always enough. Throughout this rollercoaster ride, it’s hard to tell where Scott ends and Pris begins and vice versa because the narrators’ voice remains steady. A challenging feat handled adeptly by two very fine poets; an extremely worthwhile read.
–M. Scott Douglass, Publisher/Editor, Main Street Rag

Baudelaire once wrote, “Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in the way of feeling.” This stirring, painful, and wondrous poetic exchange between two master craftsmen breaks the traditional mould while at the same time reinforcing it. The personas created by Owens and Campbell speak truths that many of us often deny. “The Nature of Attraction” is truly a marvelous read that is surely not for the faint of heart.
–Carter Monroe, Publisher Rank Stranger Press

I read the poems in “The Nature of Attraction” while on a commuter bus on my way home from work. I read them through clear skies and into a storm. A man’s teeth will always be/as large as his fear. I read them pressed against the window, shirt slightly open. Maybe I should give in to my body’s bending/toward her. I read them while everyone else was asleep or trying to be. A star lies on her pillow. Her bed lights up the room. I read them the way a flag has no choice but to unfurl itself to the wind. When her stomach churns/and the moon buries itself deep. I read them the way love might, with lightning all around. Maybe I can get away/without doing anything at all.
–Tammy Foster Brewer

Scott Owens Reads from The Nature of Attraction

Review by Sara Claytor in This Literary Magazine
Review by Rosemary Royston in The Luxury of Trees
Review by Caleb Pletcher in Pirene’s Fountain
Review by Grady Harp in Goodreads

Said One Collaborator to Another, Pris Campbell and Scott Owens in Referential Magazine

Publisher’s Website Listing
Goodreads Listing

Cover art by Antoine de Villiers. See more here.

(2011) Country Roads: Travels Through Rural North Carolina


Clayton Joe Young: Nothing can be as rewarding as getting lost driving down a country road. You never know what you might encounter: an aging barn, a church whose steeple peaks out of a mountain top, a barred up general store, or an old automobile that has seen better days. I have often found that if I don’t stop and take a picture, the landscape might change the next time I pass through. To me, nothing is worse than seeing a piece of history vanish because of progress or nature. I feel that if I don’t take a picture, the place will be erased from time and forgotten. Like all of the stories, family get togethers, and working the land never happened. Sometimes if I get an image I really like I will research more about the property. I once discovered that my great grandfather was a brick mason and left his initials in a house that I often passed and photographed. Another time I learned that a field was overgrown and when cleared, a long forgotten mansion was left standing. A lot of these pictures took repeat visits. Often the lighting was not pleasant or I was in too much of a hurry to stop. Some of these places I still drive by daily and still find myself slowing down to appreciate the beauty. I am collaborating with poet Scott Owens on this project. I feel we both share a connection with tradition and appreciation of our heritage. Scott can often express the same feelings I felt that drew me to capture the image to start with. I challenge you, the viewer, to take a moment to stop and view your own surroundings. Find your inspiration not only when on vacation or during a special occasion, but in the world hidden just beyond the weeds.

Scott Owens: There can be little doubt that the “country” in which many of us were raised is disappearing. Often these days (to turn a phrase from John Denver) not only is there no “home” for “country roads” to take us to, but there is no longer a country road either. Urban sprawl, suburban sprawl, the widening of everything made of asphalt is rapidly displacing, replacing, or misplacing the dirt roads, family farms, and unexplored fields that were so much a part of our youth. Fortunately for those living in the South, things change a bit more slowly here, and there is still time to memorialize what will soon be gone. Joe Young’s photography has done just that as he turns his lens on scenes in and around Catawba County, NC, that represent bygone or soon-to-be-gone days. I am honored and pleased to have been invited to play a part in this process of remembrance and recollection. While these poems attempt to shed further light upon these captured scenes, they also offer an ironic commentary on the nature of perception and memory. They ask, in short, just how capable we are of seeing things truly when we are unavoidably influenced by the filters of stereotypes, expectations, and romantic predispositions. In other words, is the “country” we see limited by the “country” we are taught to see? And then, as we select which images to save and reflect upon, how much of our selection and reflection is determined by what we were taught constitutes “country”? Thus, while we strive to save these images, a part of us knows these images are, always were, and always will be inherently flawed and sadly inadequate.

Publisher’s Website
Other Books by Clayton Joe Young
Photography by Clayton Joe Young

(2011) Something Knows the Moment

Why ask where none can answer?” Scott Owens’ collection, Something Knows the Moment, poses this question and accompanies it with a hundred others about the nature of God, the nature of faith, of doubt, of trust and distrust, disillusion and resignation. Occasionally the subject of hope is addressed: “Here at least there is ice cream / and poetry, there are flowers” in the midst of “the nothing that surrounds us all.” The answer to that first searching question is, We ask because we cannot help but ask. –These poems are necessary.
– Fred Chappell, NC Poet Laureate Emeritus

Scott Owens, in his collection, Something Knows the Moment, stares steadfastly into the “unrelenting zero” as if trying to pierce the other side of being itself with laser-like intensity. Blake does come to mind when reading these biblical sketches; however, Owens’ motives shed new light on some of the oldest ideas ever-he presents the Creator in such a way that the reader almost pities Him for his violent inventions–thus forcing the reader to immediately ponder his own nature and humanity. Good poetry does precisely this. At the root of these poems is a deep and palpable compassion, just as when one of Owens’ angels comes down to experience heaven on earth, the celestial tourist wonders, “how the world could help/ but hold such life, how things like this/ are let to fade, pass away”. Be forewarned–there is a tenderness in this book that might shame you.
– Joe Milford, The Joe Milford Poetry Show

In his new book of poems. Something Knows the Moment, Scott Owens fashions his own inimitable creation myth in a vital, imaginative retelling: Genesis, the New Testament, Jehovah Himself, Lucifer, the saints and angels, not to mention the ever-present specter of Dante. By turns these poems are terrifying and glorious, always luminous, informed by an abiding faith that the liturgy of poetry will leave us burnished and restored.
–Joseph Bathanti, NC Poet Laureate

Issuing from the loins of the Bible Belt, Scott Owens’ Something Knows the Moment arrives to remind us that Coleridge’s dictum that poetry was “spilt religion” was no marginal utterance. Rather, it suggests it‘s poets who must gather and rebottle the oil. Scott Owens has the audacity to reimagine The Good Book and its often confusing and ignorant and yet noble eco-system. It is a resurrection not to be missed: haunted, funny, and outrageous, by turns, fiercely imagined, wonderfully accessible, Scott Owens’ latest shows him to be one of the most engaging and readable poets currently working in the South.
–David Rigsbee, author of The Red Tower: New and Selected Poems

Review by Karen Mason in North Caroling Literary Review, 2013
Review by Emilia Fuentes Grant in The Pedestal Magazine, 2012
Review by Ami Kaye in Eyewear, 2012
Review by Ami Kaye in Pirene’s Fountain, 2012
Review by Kim Grabowski in The Smoking Poet, Spring 2012
Review by Nancy Posey in Raleigh News & Observer, 28 Aug 2011

Publisher’s Website Listing

Cover Art by Clayton Joe Young. See more here.

(2012) For One Who Knows How to Own Land

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.
–Barbara Gabriel

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

Publisher’s Website
Goodreads Listing

Cover Art by Clayton Joe Young. See more here.