NC Literary Hall of Fame




Down to Sleep by Scott Owens

Main Street Rag
$15.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-59948-613-0
November, 2016
Available from the publisher

"Down to Sleep immerses language in praise, as the voice of Scott Owens builds a symphony of creations unique among contemporary poets. Down to Sleep ebbs and edges dream and reality in a joyful awakening. Every poem makes me feel like a child again, even as age swings on dove wings settling on broken blades of grass."
—Shelby Stephenson, Poet Laureate of North Carolina

"After a writer reaches an elevated level of technical and artistic proficiency, the next goal should be to shape an artifact that absolutely no one else could have produced. In this stunning, nightmarish collection of narrative poems, Owens has done just that. Down to Sleep is guaranteed to both enlighten and haunt its readers."
—Tim Peeler, author of Rough Beast

"These poems are sharp-edged, cutting through the dust and worn grooves of our everyday routines with dynamism and humanity. Like a script for a rainbow, these lines constantly teeter between the poet's waking life and his dream state, the twilight imagination that informs our best creative impulses, and reminds us that we are not prisoners of our personal histories, but hopeful beings that lay down at night inside skins that need shedding. In some ways, this collection is an artifact for a phantom, a manual hard-wired to reality, that tethers its creator to solid ground, even as he finds himself in the constant act of disappearing. There is a scene in Hitchcock’s 1951 film, Strangers on a Train, in which Robert Walker pops a child's balloon at a fair with his cigarette. These poems operate in just the opposite manner, locating the toxic nature and nightmares of this broken life, turning the black smoke into balloons".
—Keith Flynn, editor of Asheville Poetry Review, and author of Colony Collapse Disorder


He was born.
He suckled.
He walked.
He mastered words.
He didn't always fit in.
Difference was not appreciated.
He seemed too effeminate.
He used few words.
Some said he was crazy.
They lied who said he had wings,
who said he claimed to own the universe.
Wickedness was drawn to him.
He tried everything once,
kept what felt good,
harmed no one.
He was misunderstood.
No one could see him
as he was before he existed.
Of course they killed him.
Left hanging three days
blood settled to swollen feet,
discolored, crusted over.
Black birds pecked out
soft tissue of eyes.
He came to something new,
the body of the dream unhinged,
a different kind of sense.
If he flew it was only
because the world wanted him to.

Scott Owens holds degrees from Ohio University, UNC Charlotte, and UNC Greensboro. He teaches at Lenoir Rhyne University, edits Wild Goose Poetry Review, owns and operates Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse and Gallery, and coordinates Poetry Hickory. This is his fourteenth collection of poetry. His work has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Next Generation/Indie Lit Awards, the North Carolina Writers' Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC. He has been featured on The Writer’s Almanac five times, and his articles about poetry have been featured in Poet’s Market four times. He is the North Carolina Writers' Network regional rep for the Central Foothills.

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