Monday, May 3, 2010

Scott Owens to Visit Far Western NC and North Georgia


Interview with Scott Owens,

Poet and Editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review
By Glenda C. Beall

I recently interviewed Scott Owens, well-published and highly acclaimed poet from Hickory, NC. In his book The Fractured World, Scott explores his childhood in which he suffered physical and emotional abuse and the impact this had on his life.
He says of this book, “I have found it very cathartic to write about the darker parts of my life, as you put it. I have used poetry for a long time as a sort of self-therapy, but I have also known that writing about these things was one way to help others who had been through similar experiences to know that they were not alone, and to help those guilty of the negative actions and attitudes portrayed in the book to understand that it's not okay, that what they do causes a lifetime of irreparable harm.”
In his book, Paternity, he writes about his relationship with his little daughter Sawyer.
“Sawyer is my only biological child. I have two stepsons who are both in college now, and I had a stepson with a previous wife for a few years as well.
The first new poem in this book was an occasional poem written for the Jewish ceremony of naming the new baby. The next one was written after holding her one night and crying as I realized the clichés about being willing to die for someone were not just clichés.”
He went on to say, “A lot of my poems are attempts to convey the emotional intensity of a particular moment. In a larger sense, I think I wanted to continue with these poems to finish what I had started in The Fractured World. That book ends with the disintegration of Norman, my alter ego who represents the fear and alienation that result from child abuse.
Paternity illustrates what can happen after one gets past one's past. I guess you could say that Paternity balances the scales.
Scott grew up part of the time on his Papa's 7-acre farm, part of the time in various mill villages in a nearby small town, part of the time in trailer parks around military bases, and part of the time in military housing. His parents were married and divorced numerous times, including three times to each other.
“If I include all of my stepbrothers and sisters, then my family size would rival the Duggars, but most of the time my family was my mom, myself, my three brothers, and whatever "Daddy" happened to be around at the time,” Scott said.
I asked him how his childhood affected his writing as an adult and he said, “I suspect my writing is what allowed me to become an adult, both literally and figuratively. Life has not been great for my three brothers. They have all struggled to maintain sanity and security in their lives. On the other hand, I graduated, went to college, became a teacher, and pretty much stayed out of trouble. And the only real difference between me and them is that I read and started writing at a young age and frequently went to books when I needed to get away from a difficult reality. I would say my childhood gave me the motivation and the reason to write. I see my writing as my way of redeeming that childhood.

“Your poetry is accessible and can be understood by the average reader. Do you think our modern poets, like you, are bringing poetry back to the people?" I asked the poet.
" … I think with the proliferation of poetry readings there is a growing tendency to be a bit more accessible than a lot of poetry had been for the last 25 years or so. Personally, I don't see the attraction in being needlessly obscure. I have plenty of difficult poems, but I hope that even with the most difficult the poem achieves some level of emotional or intellectual effect upon a good reader.”

I asked Scott Owens to tell us why we should come to hear him read his poetry at Coffee With the Poets, Wednesday, May 12 at 10:30 a.m. and at Mountain Perk in Hiawassee, GA that evening at 7:00 p.m. I like his answer.

“To paraphrase Dr. Williams, because while it is difficult to get the news from poetry, people die miserable every day for lack of what is found there. I do think reading and writing poetry can make a difference in everyone's lives. Poetry is mostly about seeing connections that aren't otherwise immediately apparent. That's a good skill to develop. It helps us take fewer things for granted and recognize the value of things through their connectedness to other things.
A big part of that connectedness, as you've alluded to in your questions, is the connectedness of one human life to another. This is what allows us to achieve catharsis by watching, listening to, or reading about someone else's experience. We recognize our own story in theirs and are able to learn from it. Then, of course, there is the best reason of all, because it will be fun.”

Phillips and Lloyd Books hosts a book signing for Scott from noon until 1:00 p.m. right after Coffee with the Poets on May 12.
Curiosity Shop Books in Murphy, NC will host Scott for a book signing at 2:00 p.m. May 12.
Stop in to meet him and pick up one of his books.

Contact Glenda at glendabeall@msn.com or 828-389-4441 for more information.

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