Meet Scott Owens

I’ve known Scott for several years, after he invited me to read at his Poetry Hickory. Scott owns Taste Full Beans Coffee Shop and Gallery in Hickory, North Carolina, and before things were shut down hosted a monthly poetry reading and open mike in his place.

Scott is also a poet in his own right. He’s Professor of Poetry at Lenoir Rhyne University, has authored 15 collections, and is the recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology, among numerous others.

Though I don’t own all 15 of Scott’s books, I do have several, including this, his latest, Counting the Ways. I have to say, this one is my favorite. Many of the poems have 13 stanzas, and each stanza is so vividly drawn, is so tight with emotion they could stand alone. As part of a larger work, the stanzas thread together to open and expand the metaphors and deepen the emotions.

I chose to close National Poetry Month with Scott’s poem, 13 Ways of Heaven and Earth, because I think it brings us full circle to what Mike James said in his poem Inspiration (in answer to a question) in my first post. Poets can find inspiration in anything. Scott’s poem begins with something as ephemeral as rain and lightning and in thirteen steps binds the reader to heaven and earth. With Scott’s permission I’m also including his poem, Breakings, which he references in his answers. (Titles are bolded).

So here’s Scott!

  1. Do you remember the very first poem you wrote? How old were you? What was it about?

The first “poem” I ever wrote is largely a matter of definition. Like millions of people, I wrote various special event poems in grade school and middle school. Then I wrote quite a bit of very imitative and predictably rhymed and metered work on topics like sorrow, love, joy, and all those other cliched abstractions in high school, some of which won awards that I was very proud of at the time. The first thing I wrote that I would consider worthy of the name “poem” today was “Breakings,” which I started as an undergraduate at Ohio University after attending a reading by Galway Kinnell and finally recognizing what it was I had been trying to do for so long. The topic was brokenness.

  1. If you could raise a cup of coffee or tea with any poet, living or deceased, whom would it be?

 At the risk of sounding like Sarah Palin, all of them! It seems so impossible to choose just one. As author of my favorite book of all time, Galway Kinnell would probably be my pick. But I would so enjoy chatting with Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mary Oliver, Sylvia Plath, C.P. Cavafy, Yehuda Amichai, Yannis Ritsos, Lucille Clifton, Donald Hall, E. E. Cummings, or Walt Whitman


There were always bottles in the well house,

lined up on 2 X 4s, piled in boxes, hidden

above the door. He hung them, bottoms up,

on the sticks he planted in the pasture.

Sometimes he used coffee cans, milk jugs,

a red-lined slopjar, anything to make a noise

as it swallowed the rocks or took the blows

hard against its side. But nothing could match

the sounds of shattered glass, nothing

could match the thrill of breaking.

The changes came sudden but incomplete.

What was once a bottle grew into

the many faces of breaking,

mirrors and windows, stung

running of cows, frantic beating

of redbirds, cries of children.

His father went off to war

to practice breaking on other men.

He became so good at it he came back

to teach others the black magic of breaking.

His mother stayed home and broke water,

broke in husbands and children,

broke her back to hold

some fragment of family together.

The old man, his grandfather,

broke the earth, broke cows

in the pasture, chicken-bones

in his teeth, taught him to break

limbs with the red axe,

the necks of chickens and rabbits,

legs of owls in foxtraps,

skulls of cows in the stable.

He saw the breaking of land,

the endless bending of backs

and knees, the big-handed breaking

of his mother’s face, his brother’s

mouth, his own shattered skin.

He heard the news of breaking,

of Attica and Kent, King

and My Lai, the fields and jungles

scattered with war, the streets

emptied through breaking of walls

and windows, hearts and heads.

He saw the night shattered

with noise and lights, a man’s body

broken open on the porch,

the life splattered on the window,

lying messy on the floor.

He wanted to leave it all

behind, to break the habits

of breaking, but even now,

he knows the hearts of those

he loves like glass.

13 Ways of Heaven and Earth


Beneath the red-brick arch

of a millhouse porch

splattered with rain

a boy and his grandfather

watch lightning so bright

it frightens at the same time it thrills.


In the perfect, still

oppressive dark

of a cloudy Southern

summer night

the constant call

of whip-poorwill.


An old man sits

on bent wood furniture

beneath a pecan tree

surrounded by children,

hounds, other attendant

beasts, all with the knowledge

that this can be counted on.


Walking through woods at night

miles from any town

and no moon to speak of

you come into a clearing

and see a sky turned

almost white with stars.


Sunfish, angelfish, moonfish,

all residents of heaven it seems

long for time on Earth.


If all the stars

fell from the sky at once

could they be as numerous,

as cold, as delicious

as this snowfall

in December in South Carolina.


The moment after,

I become a Buddhist,

can imagine

the absolute

absence of desire.


Sweetest seduction,

roundness of your breasts,

your pregnant belly,

the unimaginable life

that lies within.


My little girl discovers

juice of the perfect August

peach running down her chin.

Eve never stood a chance.


Moonflower, sunflower, star fruit.

It’s summer. The cosmos

are blooming again.


Face down in water too blue

to be anything but dream,

colors multiply and magnify

to abstract expression

of what it means to be alive.


In a bowl of land

called Cade’s Cove

time truly stands still.

Myself, the earth,

and everything in it

become ageless and all

part of one thing.


Water laps both sides

of this strip of land

16 miles long,

half mile wide.

Marsh hawks patrol

the firmament. To either side

the definition of forever.

Scott Owens ~ Counting the Ways

Available through Main Street Rag Publishing Co.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Meet Scott Owens

  1. Glenda C. Beall says:

    Scott is one of my favorite poets and I really like these poems you shared.

    • Hi Glenda, thank you. It was hard to choose. Scott is one of my favorites too – as a poet and as an all-around nice guy. Sounds like he has another book coming out soon! I’m in awe and look forward to adding this new collection to my collection.

      Thank you for stopping by!
      ~ Kim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s