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All Levels | Taking our lead from the deep reading habit of rabbinic tradition, we will be opening the texts we read, and generating new work in dialogue with those texts. Beginning with close readings of provocative, poetic texts—work by Dickinson, Borges, Rilke, Bishop and others—we’ll hope to produce responsive poems, stories, or essays. We’ll generate one or more such pieces in class, and help each other shape those new texts in ways that occasion meaning-making, thus leading to richer experiences for ourselves and for our readers.
Scott Cairns is the author of nine books of poetry, including Idiot Psalms, Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems, and his latest, Anaphora: New Poems. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Poetry, and elsewhere, and has been anthologized in multiple editions of Best Spiritual Writing and Best American Spiritual Writing. Besides writing poetry, Cairns has also written a spiritual memoir, Short Trip to the Edge, a book-length theological meditation, The End of Suffering, and libretti for the oratoria “The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp” and “A Melancholy Beauty.”
His new projects include Descent to the Heart, verse adaptation of selections from the writings of Saint Isaak of Syria. His spiritual memoir was just released in Greek and Romanian editions.
Cairns has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was awarded the Denise Levertov Award in 2014. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri where he was the Curators’ Distinguished Professor of English, and currently directs Seattle Pacific University's low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program. Cairns is also the founding director of Writing Workshops in Greece, a program that brings writers to study and engage with literary life in modern Greece. With Carolyn Forché and Ilya Kaminski, Cairns leads Mystikós, a writers retreat on the Greek island of Serifos.