OBU will host author Scott Cairns for the Visiting Writer Seminar Nov. 7-8. The events will take place in the Bailey Business Center on OBU’s campus. Cairns will hold a reading of his poetry Monday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m. He will lead a masterclass on writing memoir Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.
Librettist, essayist, translator, and author of eight poetry collections, Cairns is the Curators’ Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Missouri, and director of the low-residency Master of Fine Arts in writing program at Seattle Pacific University. His poems and essays have appeared in “Poetry,” “Image,” “Paris Review,” “The Atlantic Monthly,” “The New Republic,” “Plume,” and more, and have been anthologized in multiple editions of Best American Spiritual Writing.
His recent books include “Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems” (2015), “Idiot Psalms” (2014), “Short Trip to the Edge” (spiritual memoir, 2016), “Endless Life” (2014), and a book-length essay, “The End of Suffering” (2009). He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006 and the Denise Levertov Award in 2014. His new projects include “Descent to the Heart,” verse adaptations of selections from the writings of Saint Isaak of Syria, and a new poetry collection, “Anaphora.”
The Visiting Writer Seminar at OBU began as a way to make the already existing reading series more ambitious and to widen its appeal. Dr. Brent Newsom, assistant professor of English, and Dr. Ben Myers, Crouch-Mathis professor of literature and professor of literature and English, both wanted to bring to campus Christian writers of the highest reputation and accomplishment, so they began working with the University Advancement office to raise funds for that purpose. The first visiting writer was Tania Runyan, who came to campus during the spring semester 2016 to read from her poems, lecture on writing poetry, and consult with students about their writing.
Myers stressed the importance of these experiences for students. “What programs like the Visiting Writer Seminars do is bring literature to life in the eyes of our students and the public. This program is largely about building literary culture on campus and about connecting the campus to the literary culture around us. It is also about demonstrating how alive and dynamic the Christian literary tradition is.”
“We want our students to learn about the variety of literary expressions within the Christian tradition,” he said. “We want them to think about the ways faith and art intersect. We want to encourage them to read the best in contemporary writing.”
Funds to support the program are being raised through the OBU Office of University Advancement. For more information or to make a gift, call (405) 585-5000.