Scott Cairns was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1954. He was educated at Western Washington University, Hollins College, Bowling Green State University, and University of Utah. His poems have appeared in such venues as The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, and The New Republic, and have been anthologized in Upholding Mystery (Oxford University Press, 1997) and Best Spiritual Writing, 1998 (HarperCollins, 1998). His Poetry collections include Recovered Body (Braziller, 1998), Figures for the Ghost (University of Georgia Press, 1994), The Translation of Babel (University of Georgia Press, 1990), and The Theology of Doubt (Cleveland State University, 1985). With W. Scott Olsen, he co-edited The Scared Place (University of Utah Press, 1996), an anthology of poetry and prose. He has taught American literature and creative writing at Kansas State University, Westminster College, University of North Texas, Old Dominion University, and University of Missouri. He lives in Columbia, Missouri with his wife, Marcia Vanderlip, and their two children.
Read Scott Cairns' "the State of the Arts" essay, "Image unto Likeness: The Body Breathing Again".
"I am working, as usual, on a new collection of poems. The current pile still seems too incoherent to suggest a clear direction. I have, however, entertained some guesses about how these poems might meet up—the central uniting trope of Byzantium, recovered from Mr. Yeats and, ideally, recuperated so as to serve theological as well as aesthetic concerns. The poems so far have been helpful, as well, in helping me articulate my other current project: a group of related essays which, if all goes well, may result in something very like the 'sacramental poetics' I kept hoping someone else might come up with. There is, as well, a novel-in-progress, which has spent a good deal of time on a back burner, but which has moved from 80 pages to 92 pages during the past year. Given that it's taken me about nine years to get even that far, I'm guessing it'll be a while before Which Tribe? Which River? sees either completion or the light of day."