Scott Cairns

Scott Cairns profile picture office: 008 Tate
phone: 573-882-0669
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
office hours: MTWR by appointment

Research and teaching areas:
modern and contemporary American
literature; poetics; creative writing


Poetry Foundation Bio

Scott Cairns teaches modern and contemporary American literature and creative writing. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Image, Spiritus, Tiferet, etc., and have been anthologized in Upholding Mystery (Oxford UP '96), Best Spiritual Writing (Harper Collins '98 and '00), and Best American Spiritual Writing (Houghton Mifflin, ‘04, ’05, and '06). His poetry collections include Slow Pilgrims: The Collected Poems (Paraclete Press, 2015), Idiot Psalms (Paraclete Press, 2014), Compass of Affection: Poems New and Selected (Paraclete Press, ‘06), Philokalia (Zoo Press '02), Recovered Body (Braziller '98), Figures for the Ghost (U Georgia P '94), The Translation of Babel (U of Georgia P '90), and The Theology of Doubt (Cleveland State UP '85). With W. Scott Olsen, he co-edited The Sacred Place (U of Utah P '96), an anthology of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. His spiritual memoir, Short Trip to the Edge, (HarperSanFrancisco) and a collection of adaptations and translations, Love’s Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life (Paraclete Press), both appeared in 2007. The memoir is being released in paper as Slow Pilgrim (Paraclete Press, 2016) and the translations appeared in paper as Endless Life: Poems of the Mystics (Paraclete Press, 2014).  He is founding director and current faculty member of Writing Workshops in Greece He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006, and the Denise Levertov Award in 2014.



  • PhD 1990, University of Utah
  • MFA, 1981, Bowling Green State University
  • MA, 1979, Hollins College
  • BA, 1977, Western Washington University

Selected Publications

  • Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems, Preface by Richard Howard, Introduction by Gregory Wolfe, Paraclete Press, 2015
  • Idiot Psalms (new poems) Paraclete Press, 2014
  • Endless Life (translations & adaptations) Paraclete Press, 2014
  • The End of Suffering (essay) Paraclete Press, 2009
  • Short Trip to the Edge (spiritual memoir) HarperOne, 2007, Greek edition: Μικρό Ταξίδι στη Μεθόριο, Parrisia Press, Athens, 2014
  • Love's Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life (translations/adaptations), Paraclete Press, 2007
  • Compass of Affection: Poems New & Selected, Paraclete, Press, 2006
  • Philokalia, Zoo Press, 2002
  • Recovered Body New York: George Braziller Publishers, 1998. Reprint Eighth Day Press, 2003
  • Figures for the Ghost, University of Georgia Press, 1994
  • The Translation of Babel, University of Georgia Press, 1990
  • The Theology of Doubt, Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1985

Courses Taught

  • English 2000: Courses in English Studies: Modern American Poetry
  • English 2000: Courses in English Studies: Poetry in Translation/Poetry as Translation
  • English 2000: Frost, Stevens, Moore, and Bishop
  • English 2000: Midrashim as Generative Model
  • English 4040/7040: Studies in Writing: The Spiritual Journey
  • English 4100/7100: Genres: Form and Theory of Poetry
  • English 4970: Capstone: Writing the Spiritual Journey
  • English 4530/7530: Advanced Poetry Writing
  • English 4520/7520: Advanced Nonfiction Writing
  • English 8520: Advanced Nonfiction Writing
  • English 8530: Advanced Writing of Poetry

Selected Awards

  • John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship
  • Denise Levertov Award
  • Pushcart Prize
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship