Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shadows Trail Them Home on Clemson University Press Website

You can now order copies of Shadows Trail Them Home on the Clemson University Press website. Of course, if you want it signed, you'll need to order it from me, or meet me at one of the readings I'll be giving in the next few months. Here is a link to the Clemson website:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shadows on Joe Milford Poetry Show

I was interviewed and read from "Shadows Trail Them Home" today on the Joe Milford Show. Here is a link to the show: Joe Milford Show.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Clemson University Publishes Hickory Poet's New Book

News on Shadows Trail Them Home in the Outlook today.


Clemson University has just released Hickory poet, Scott Owens’ 10th book, Shadows Trail Them Home. The book is a love story told through a narrative sequence of poems written by Owens and collaborator, Pris Campbell. This is the second collaboration Owens has produced with Campbell. The first, The Nature of Attraction, was published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company in 2010.

Owens describes Shadows Trail Them Home as “a novel told in 71 poems about the relationship of two characters created by two different writers who have themselves never met, nor even spoken in any capacity aside from email.”

Author and Clemson University Professor Emeritus, Ronald Moran, says of the book, “This is an important contribution to the cultural canon of American life, presented in an engaging (but disturbing) context.” And Suzanne Hudson, award-winning author of In the Dark of the Moon, states, “The story of Norman and Sara exposes innumerable shades of joy and pain in our deepest human drive—the one that dances us toward, away from, but ever-toward love.”

Owens, who teaches creative writing at Catawba Valley Community College, is a very active member of the local and state writing community. He serves as vice-president of both the NC Poetry Society and the Poetry Council of NC. He is the regional representative of the NC Writers’ Network, and the coordinator of Hickory’s Writers’ Night Out. He is the founder of Poetry Hickory and co-founder of the Art of Poetry at the Hickory Museum of Art. He is also editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review and 234.

Owens’ previous books have included The Fractured World (Main Street Rag, 2008), Paternity (Main Street Rag, 2010), Something Knows the Moment (Main Street Rag, 2011), and For One Who Knows How to Own Land (FutureCycle Press, 2012). His work has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Next Generation/IndieLit Awards, and the Poetry Society of South Carolina.

The official release event for Shadows Trail Them Home will be held at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse in downtown Hickory from 2:00 to 4:00 on Saturday, January 26. Owens will be available to sign copies of the book, and will read a few of the poems aloud.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Reading/Workshop Schedule Spring 2013

I'll be giving a few readings and leading a few workshops this spring. Here is a general schedule. Email me at or call at 828-234-4266 if you're interested and want more details. Thanks to everyone who supports poetry by making these events possible as well as to those who attend.

14 January – April Creative Writing Workshop, Hickory, NC

18 January Joe Milford Poetry Show,

26 January Book Release Party for Shadows Trail Them Home, Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse, Hickory, NC, 2-4

28 February Scott Owens, Rand Brandes, and Susan Woodring at Bethlehem Library, Bethlehem, NC, 6-8

21 March Lazy Lion Bookstore, Fuquay-Varina, NC, 6-8

6 April Blue Ridge Writers Conference, Blue Ridge, GA, Workshops and Reading

14 June NetWest Writers Night Out, Hiawassee, GA

15 June Writers’ Circle Workshop, Hayesville, NC

23 June McIntyre’s Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC, 2:00

Thursday, January 3, 2013

America the Hyphenated

An old essay of mine, written in 1993, reprinted here so my students will have access to it.


I am a white (partially Native-American, partially African-American), middle-class (originally poverty-class), Southern, Piedmont, rural (recently become urban, more recently become small-town), Pantheist-Deist (partially Reformed Jewish, partially atheist, raised fundamental Baptist), Independent (sometimes Democrat, sometimes Republican), Existentialist, heterosexual, Kennedy-era, male American. My family is Welsh, Creek, German, Cherokee, Black, English, Scots, middle-class, lower-middle-class, lower-class, urban, rural, agrarian, industrial, military, Fundamentalist, Baptist, Agnostic, Republican, Democrat, Socialist, and Anarchist. I have never allowed myself to feel like the victim (and I do think the image would victimize each of us if we allowed it) of a “melting pot.” I embrace those parts of my Celtic heritage with which I have been able to identify. I embrace those parts of my Native-American heritage with which I have been able to identify, as I do those parts of my Southern, rural, African-American, and Judeo-Christian heritage with which I have been able to identify. I value those parts of my personality which are commonly seen as “masculine,” though I also value those parts of my personality which are commonly seen as “feminine,” and those parts which seem neither masculine nor feminine or both masculine and feminine. I embrace those parts of my American heritage with which I have been able to identify. I have never let any of these influences “melt” away. I embrace, in short, all of my contraries.

America is a multi-national society. As African-American poet, Ishmael Reed, says, “The world is here.” It has been arriving since long before the middle-European “discovery” of the continent in 1492 and hasn’t slowed down since. America is a multi-religious society. Freedom of religion, after all, was one of the primary reasons for the European migration to the Americas. America is a society of many economies. Such diversity of economic investment has always kept us strong while other, more monolithic economies have weakened or collapsed. America is a society of many political units. As a Republic, the country was founded on the idea that one could be part of both a smaller and larger political unit simultaneously. America is a society of various sexual orientations, as has been every society in every location in every period of humanity’s existence on Earth. America is a society of hyphenated people.

There are those who say that such insistence upon separate cultural identities within a single political unit must inevitably lead to conflict, that it is our inability to “come together” (euphemism for “become alike”) that has led to incidents like the L.A. riots, to continued tensions between the races, the sexes, and those of various sexual orientations. Not only does such belief ignore the nature of a democracy (rule by all the people, for all the people, not just by and for some constantly shifting majority), but it also ignores the very nature of the word “difference.” In its simplest conception, “difference” is defined as “the state of being unalike or distinct in nature or form.” It connotes only states of description. There is no reason to believe that any possible descriptive difference would be inherently inflammatory, would lead of its own to conflict. It is only when differences are seen judgmentally rather than descriptively that they become harmful. It is only when difference is seen as encoding some measure of quality that differences become factious. It is only when difference is viewed judgmentally rather than descriptively that tensions, fear, and feelings of inferiority and superiority arise. It is only when cultural differences are socially and politically institutionalized as inequalities in freedom, opportunity, and self-determination that violence becomes the only foreseeable result.

All Americans share a number of ideals, goals, and traditions in common. But to hearken back to some time of homogeneous American identity is to hearken back to a myth. The image of the melting pot has always been faulty, requiring the dissolution of one’s various cultural influences in order to allow one’s resolution into some generic American ideal. When J. Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur spoke of America as a melting pot, he included only European-Americans. He excluded Native-Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and non-Christian-Americans, all of whom, even by the end of the 18th century, had played significant roles in the development of America. De Crevecoeur also mistakenly characterized Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, German-Americans, Irish-Americans, and a wide range of other European-Americans as willingly surrendering their inherited cultural traditions in order to assume a new cloak of American identity. One need only visit any of the numerous “Little Italys” or Polish sectors or Highland organizations still flourishing in America today to see just how inaccurate this picture was and still is.

Some say that it is more important, more unifying, and perhaps even more accurate to see ourselves as primarily American, to focus, in other words, upon our similarities, our common ground. Perhaps this is true; perhaps it is important that we appreciate how much we have in common. After all, the fact that we are all more similar than we are different is mathematically irrefutable. Working backward from 2 parents, 4 grandparents, and 8 great grandparents, and assuming a fairly conservative estimate of 4 generations in each century, one need only go back to around the year 1200 CE before the number of one’s direct ancestors in a single generation would be greater than the total world population at the time of that generation, indicating that the idea that we are all brothers and sisters beneath the skin is not only a romantic ideal but an inevitable conclusion. Nevertheless, achieving this conclusion, that we all already share a great deal in common, that we are all already multi-cultural, that we are all finally American, and ultimately, human, through exploring and embracing the diversity of our own more immediate and recognizable cultural heritages will enrich our identities as Americans and as human beings. Whether we choose to focus on similarity or diversity, we will arrive at the same place, but by bringing with us our own still present cultural heritages, we will have so much more to give to that place.

America has never been a homogeneous society. America has always been a hyphenated society. We need not now remove these hyphenizations but only remove the judgments, the intolerances, and the misunderstanding that have been attached to them in our own minds. Cultural differences should be appreciated by those who possess them and respected by those who believe they do not. In truth, all Americans possess their own variety of cultural influences. Each of us should strive to appreciate and understand what those influences offer us and mean to us; and whether we are aware of it or not, inasmuch as we hope our individual personality will be respected, we each already hope the differences those cultural influences grant us will be respected. As with our various economies, the diversity of our cultures is our strength as a nation. This unity in diversity, this strength from difference, this variety in interests, abilities, and perspectives is what makes us strong as a nation. It is what makes us the most adaptable society in the world. It is what is most American about us.