Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fuquay Varina Article

Acclaimed Poet and Editor Scott Owens Will Read at Lazy Lion

By Nancy Young, from The Fuquay Varina Independent, 21 March 2013

Poetry isn’t religion. No one would die for it or of it. Poet, editor and educator Scott Owens knows these truths. Yet still he writes poetry "religiously," with over 1200 published poems, ten poetry collections, and nine Pushcart nominations. And he’s coming to the Lazy Lion in Fuquay-Varina this Thursday evening to share his work.

Owens’ poetry is at once distressing and transforming. “All of me is the monster here,” he attests in “Persona." He then adds, “Here you’ll see the monster in me is you,” making one wonder if he means the monster is a creation of the judgmental viewer or if the monster is something we share in common. Of course, he probably means both, and Owens faces the monster in himself, in all of us, and in our judgments of each other in poem after poem.

“We all possess the human potential for cruelty," Owens remarks in a recent interview. "Anyone who has seen that cruelty firsthand, carries awareness of that potential with him, fears it in himself and others.” In his collection “The Fractured World,” Owens reveals a causative cruel realm of child abuse and pain, but also the possibility of empathy and redemption.

Poems have redeemed Scott Owens. “I’m a better person when I write poetry,” he explains. His creative process helps him make meaning out of his own life and the world in general. “We all have shadows,” Owens says. “Art is one way to deal with them. Art helps up pay attention, make conscious decisions, keep an open mind, see connections between things, and grant significance to things otherwise devalued.”

His second collection, “Paternity,” rediscovers childhood wonder and the saving grace of parenthood.

His latest collection, “For One Who Knows How to Own the Land,” chronicles his youth in the dirt-poor Piedmont, where his grandfather “broke the earth, broke cows/ in the pasture, chicken-bones/ in his teeth.” It’s a child’s world of slingshots, screen doors, red dirt, carcasses and scuppernongs, a world of poverty and death and regret tempered by the promise of seeds in the ground and the sometimes soft touch of hands made rough by necessity.

Listeners sometimes cry at his readings. Readers sometimes cry on their own.

Scott Owens insists the poetry’s not all about him. But his poems are loosely about the places and people he knows—forts of broom straw, fields dotted with skeletons of tobacco stalks, the gnarled hands that fix fence wire and slaughter cows.

Writing allows him to step outside life and reorder a fragment of it. “There’s a part of me,” he says, “that remains controlling, that likes things in at least a temporary order. It’s a way of fighting off the shadows.”

Words offer possibilities but resist absolutes. Scott Owens embraces possibilities.

The evidence lies in his poems. He sees the benefit and despair of precision in a neatly made bed in “Hospital Corners,” decrying “a bed that disallows/ movement, breath, /rampant possibility.”

Owens doesn’t limit himself to writing alone. He teaches at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC, edits “Wild Goose Poetry Review,” serves as Vice-President of the NC Poetry Society, and coordinator of several area reading series. He also gardens, hikes, and spends time with his family.

As an editor, he offers advice to writers just starting out. First, he says, never prioritize publishing over writing. Resist formulaic approaches just because they sell. It’s artistic death.

Next, he says, send poems to publications whose poems you like. Read journals to get an idea of where you’ll fit. “Look at the dart board before you throw darts,” Owens laughs.

Finally, he adds, read ten times as much as you write.


You don’t know me.

Me I keep locked up inside,

inside walls you have to gain access to

to have any sense of me.

Me you’ll see as smooth as stone,

stone as cold as ice,

ice that is impenetrable,

able only to be melted into.

To melt into me makes it my time,

my time to fall,

fall like any giant,

giant wall falling to reveal what lies inside.

Inside you’ll find a face,

face that mirrors your own.

Own what you see in what you thought,

thought would be the all of me.

All of me is the monster here.

Here is the monster.

The monster has always been here.
Here you’ll see the monster in me is you.

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