Originally from Greenwood, SC, Scott Owens holds degrees from Ohio University, UNC Charlotte, and UNC Greensboro. He currently lives in Hickory, where he teaches at Catawba Valley Community College, edits Wild Goose Poetry Review, owns and operates Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse and Gallery, and serves as vice-president of the NC Poetry Society, Regional Representative of NCWN, and Coordinator of Poetry Hickory. His twelfth book of poetry, To, is scheduled for release by Main Street Rag in early November. His work has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Next Generation/Indie Lit Awards, the NC Writers' Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC.
At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference, Scott will join the panel discussion "Creating a Poetry Community" along with Jonathan K. Rice. As romantic (and Romantic) as the image of the solitary poet may be, the reality is that most poets need to be part of a community. A poetry community can help its members hone their craft, find their muse, take advantage of opportunities, and overcome the discouragements that all writers face. Scott Owens and Jonathan K. Rice have spent years building poetry communities through magazines, readings, open mics, and more. They will talk about their experiences, answer your questions, and share tips on how to come together with your fellow poets.
If you could be a different author, living or dead, who would you be?
Too complex a question. If you mean temporarily, then I would take just about anyone, the more different, the better, just to experience something else. If you mean permanently, then no one; I like my life.
Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
Relevant, accessible, necessary.
What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
Never stop being amazed at it all.
In 2013, Forbes named Charlotte among its list of Best Places for Business and Careers. What makes Charlotte such a vibrant place to visit and live?
Diversity. Old and new. Southern and Northern. Tradition and Innovation. All in one place.
Why do you feel it's important for writers to attend conferences such as the NCWN Fall Conference?
Networking, networking, networking. Many of my most important connections were initially made at NCWN conferences.
Saturday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "Words in Civic Life." Does creative writing have a role to play outside the covers of a book?
Absolutely! The creative use of language is an essential element of perception and the processing of perception. It's how we conceptualize, contemplate, contextualize, and interpret the perceptions upon which we base all of our decisions, beliefs, and motivations. Or at least, it's what we should be using for that process rather than blind obedience.
What do you hope attendees takeaway from the conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop, panel, or Mart?
An understanding of just how easy and valuable it is to participate in or even initiate opportunities to learn, create, and share.
What does it mean for writers to "Network?" Any tips?
Networking is establishing contacts that can help writers develop their ideas and craft, and create media for sharing their creations with interested audiences as well as audiences that didn't know they should be interested.
If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
Galway Kinnell's Book of Nightmares.
Do you read literary journals? What are some of your favorites?
Yes. South Carolina Review, Main Street Rag, Iodine, Chattahoochee Review, Raleigh Review, Asheville Poetry Review. Too many to name them all.
Can writing be taught?
Of course. Or perhaps "coached" is a better work. If students have the motivation and willingness to work, their writing can definitely be improved.
Who has influenced your writing style the most?
Another long list including Galway Kinnell, Tim Peeler, Walt Whitman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Robert Frost, Yannis Ritsos, CP Cavafy, Yehuda Amichai, etc.
Have you ever had writer’s block? What is one thing that helped you overcome it?
I don't really believe in writer's block. I think what people call writer's block is usually judging one's writing before it's ready to be judged, resulting in a stifling of creativity.
Someone writes an un-authorized biography about your life. What would the title be?
The North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference runs November 21-23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, in Charlotte. Registration is now open.