I have posted a new essay on my blog this morning at www.scottowensmuings.com. It’s all about what I do to “get poetry to the people” and touches on local efforts like Poetry Hickory, Writer’s Night Out, The Art of Poetry at the Hickory Museum of Art, and the “Musings” column as well as larger things like Wild Goose Poetry Review and the North Carolina Poetry Society. I am archiving a link to the essay here under the “Essays” tab. Thanks for taking a look.
The new issue of Wild Goose Poetry Review just went live with outstanding work by Tim Peeler, Phebe Davidson, Al Ortolani, Larry Schug, Jim Zola, Karen Douglass, and many more.
There is a strong Hickory, NC, contingent in this issue, including not only Peeler but also Monday Night Writers Kelly DeMaegd, Akacia Robinson, Patricia Deaton, Brenda Smith, Mel Hager, and Betty O’Hearn.
There is also a strong NC NetWest contingent with Glenda Beall, Maren Mitchell, Lucy Cole Gratton, Staci Bell, and former member, Barbara Gabriel.
And there are reviews of wonderful new books by Michael Diebert, Collin Kelley, Hilda Downer, Malaika King Albrecht, Carol Matos, Robert S. King, Maren O. Mitchell, Jo Barbara Taylor, and Carole Richard Thompson.
Help spread the news by posting links and sending emails to anyone you think would or should be interested.
Time to re-post this as it has fallen off the front page of my website. The discount is still valid.
My new book of poems, Eye of the Beholder, is now available for pre-order through Main Street Rag’s new online bookstore. Here is a link that will take you to their listing for the book where you can see the cover art (by Valerie MacEwan), read a few poems from the book and place your order at a $5 discount off the cover price: Eye of the Beholder.
These are poems mostly about love. I wouldn’t call them all love poems, but they are about love in some fashion or another. The book is slated for release in January. Of course I have to sell enough pre-publication copies by then for MSR to move forward, and if I sell enough sooner, then it will get pushed up in the publication queue. So, help me out by ordering a copy now. I will be doing a number of readings starting in February and will be glad to sign previously bought copies then.
Here is what Philip Dacey says about the book: The poetry of Scott Owens traces the contours of loss and hope, possibility and renewal. A heartfelt quality or soulfulness, best defined as the determination to speak honestly and courageously of important personal matters, pervades this book and gives it emotional urgency page after page. Drawn to what he calls “a poetics of excess,” Owens nevertheless embodies Cocteau’s definition of tact–“knowing how far to go in going too far”–while striking a similar balance between long poems and haiku-like or koan-like short ones, which provide a kind of seasoning for the feast of the whole. Especially notable at the book’s center is a love poem Neruda would have been happy to write, the laser-intense “You in the Tomb of My Eyes,” a paean to the night that anchors the surrounding testimonies to a life lived passionately and thoughtfully. Owens knows poetry is a serious business; while various other poets these days might seem caught up in gamesmanship, this poet plays for keeps.
–Philip Dacey, Editor of Strong Measures
Mostly, I hope you’ll take a look at the website, read the sample poems, and enjoy them enough that you want to read more.
Another of my favorite online journals is Luciole Press. Editor, Karen Bowles, published poems of mine in 2008 and 2010 before having to cut back on her work for a while to deal with some personal health issues. She recently started up again with a retro issue that includes two of my poems from 2008, “13 Ways of Birds” and “To Resist Fading.” The retro issue also has work from Pris Campbell, Ami Kaye, S.A. Griffin, Scott Wannberg, and Russell Ragsdale. Here is a link to Luciole Press
Now that my son has managed to change the banner on this website, it seems appropriate to give a shout out to those who created the cover art for the books you see. The covers of three of the titles in the banner were from photos by my friend and Catawba Valley Community College colleague, Clayton Joe Young. The photographs on Paternity, Something Knows the Moment, and For One Who Knows How to Own Land were all taken by Joe. You can see more of his work, including the photographs from our collaboration, Country Roads on his website. The photos from our collaboration have been on exhibit in the Bethlehem Library, the Burke County Arts Center, and at CVCC, and we will be on exhibit later this fall in the Caldwell County Arts Center. They will host a reception including a reading from the poems on November 1.
The cover for Eye of the Beholder was created by Valerie Macewan, editor of Dead Mule. It is a photo of one of her multi-media, found art creations. She calls herself an assemblagist, defined as “one who provides the redefinition of displaced ephemera and found objects by allowing for the movement of spatial and universal concepts via placement, thus creating the intent of objects previously limited only by the influence of space and time.” She says, “Assemblage Art re-purposes man’s ephemeral detritus and gives it new life.” Some of her work can be seen on her blog.
The other cover in the banner, The Fractured World is a photo I took of my front walk and M. Scott Douglass digitally enhanced by adding a grainier texture to what was a smooth, albeit cracked, walkway. Douglass, in fact, did the cover layout for all of the Main Street Rag books. Diane Kistner did the layout and tweaked the color for For One Who Knows How to Own Land.
Of the covers not in the banner, Country Roads is, of course, a photo by Clayton Joe Young; The Nature of Attraction is a charcoal and oil sketch by Antoine de Villiers at antoineart.com; Shadows Trail Them Home is a photo by Pris Campbell’s friend, Shae Leighland-Pence at shaeleighland.com; and The Persistence of Faith is a photo taken by publisher, Ahsen Jillani of his wife Lisa’s shadow on my driveway when I lived in Charlotte.
Here is a poem that was published in another of my favorite online places, Vox Poetica, back in 2011. It was a little different then. Here is the link to its appearance in Annmarie Lockhart’s lovely daily poem blog.
To Be Like Poems
There is something about the way
a poem sits on a page surrounded
by so much white space, the stanzas boldly
declaring their independence, the lines,
rarely reaching the margin, yet
taking themselves so seriously,
believing they deserve to be broken,
set apart, spoken in single,
emphatic expulsions of breath, the words
carefully chosen for sound, denotation,
connotation, association, intentionally placed,
measured, juxtaposed, the crisp
black curls and lines of letters
staunchly denying the oppression of the void,
crush of prose, even a title
given to somewhere between 5 words,
the shortest decent poem I’ve ever
read, and a couple hundred,
sometimes even a byline for what
might only be a single sentence
that makes me think there might be hope
for us all if we could learn to be
like poems, vital, connected, leaning
into the moment a little harder.
Yesterday I posted a few links to poems of mine and interviews of me that have been in the wonderful online journal Pirene’s Fountain over the last few years. I mentioned that their next issue, due out in October, will be their last online issue. Two of my poems and a review of my upcoming book, Eye of the Beholder will be included. I should clarify that they are not “going out of business.” They are converting to a print journal and creating a print press called Glass Lyre. They are, in fact, also considering ways in which to maintain an online presence as well.
One of their first publications as Glass Lyre will be an anthology of the best poems published in Pirene’s Fountain. This will be an impressive anthology. The title will be First Water, and I feel honored to have four of my poems included with work by Kim Addonizio, Malaika King Albrecht, David Caddy, Jane Hirshfeld, Paul Hostovsky, Dorianne Laux, Joseph Millar, Linda Pastan, Jane Yolen, and many, many more. In fact, it will run about 170 pages in all.
Here is a link to Glass Lyre’s website, one definitely worth bookmarking and keeping an eye on.
Here is a link to two poems of mine, “Thirteen Ways of Direction” and “Thirteen Ways of Wonder”, published in this April’s issue of Pirene’s Fountain, one of my favorite online journals. Ami Kaye, Lark Timmons, and the other editors there do a great job. They have used my work quite a bit, including an interview with Lark in this same issue (Link); another interview with Tony Walbran last year (link); a wonderful showcase last year (link); and poems in issues each of the last six years. Their final online issue, due out in October, will also have two more of my poems as well.
Kristina Darling’s review of The Fractured World in The Pedestal in 2008 was, and still is, one of my favorite reviews of my work because, quite simply, I feel like she gets it, and she expresses what she gets quite thoroughly and clearly. I wish I could quote the entire review here. Instead, I’ll give you a snippet and a link to the full review.
“Presenting riverbanks and coastlines alongside the end of time, Owens constructs a vision of the natural world that evokes death and rebirth, as well as a speaker who has learned to embrace these ideas. This piece forms a sharp contrast with earlier poems in the collection, which often present tragedy less hopefully. Revealing the poems in this book as a progression, Owens creates a multifaceted presentation of alienation in everyday life, narrated with elegance throughout.
Ideal for readers who enjoy substantial subjects presented in novel ways, The Fractured World is an enjoyable, thought-provoking, and highly memorable collection.”
And here is the link
Among the reviews that I “rediscovered” in putting together the new website was this gem by Celisa Steele. It appeared last year in Pirene’s Fountain, and anyone who knows Celisa will not be surprised at the depth and insight of the review. It’s worth reading whether you’re interested in For One Who Knows How to Own Land or not for what it says about the craft of poetry and the role poetry plays in the world around it.
The review has many paragraphs worth quoting, but this one may be my favorite:
The light in “Leaning Through Darkness to See the Stars,” the quasi-eponymous poem of book’s first section, is more secular—the stars of the title are birds’ eyes. Along with the fine sounds (all the dark ds building up to alliteration near the end, the importance of dead emphasized by the rhyming already following so closely, the lamenting vowels in pocked and sloppy), the poem’s power derives from its refusal to name its subject: no mention of crow, not even of bird. The poem concludes with a kind of ambivalent sympathy for the crop-eating birds:
Most seemed half-dead already, wings
tattered and pocked full of holes,
faces sloppy and scarred.
Only their eyes seemed clear,
black stones shining in death’s dull face. (29-33)
Not naming the subject is another example of the reluctance to reduce that we see in “The Event Rightfully Remembered,” a suspicion that labels are just a reductive convenience.
The entire review can be read here.