Scott Cairns

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Scott Cairns is a poet, memoirist, libretist, and essayist who became an Orthodox Christian in his maturity. He has served as a reader/psalti at St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church in Columbia, Missouri and is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Missouri. He now lives in his hometown of Tacoma, WA, and is Professor of English and Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Seattle Pacific University. He is a parishioner at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Tacoma.


Scott Cairns was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1954. As a youth he was raised a Baptist and became a Presbyterian during his college years. In 1998, he became Orthodox Christian, receiving, at his conversion, the name Isaac, after St. Isaac of Syria, whose Ascetical Homilies were key to Scott's embracing Orthodox Christianity.

Scott's collegiate education began at Western Washington University, Bellingham, from which he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977. He then attended Hollins College, Roanoke, Virginia, from which he received a Master of Arts degree in 1979. In 1981, Scott was granted a Master of Fine Arts degree from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio. Then in 1990, he received his PhD from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

In his professional life, Scott has taught American literature and creative writing at Kansas State University, Westminster College, University of North Texas, Old Dominion University, and University of Missouri[[1]]. Since retiring from his position as Currators' Professor of English at the University of Missouri, he has become Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Seattle University.

He lives in University Place, Washington with his wife, Marcia Vanderlip.


  • Anaphora (Paraclete Press, 2019)
  • Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems (Paraclete Press, 2015)
  • Idiot Psalms (Paraclete Press, 2014)
  • The End of Suffering: Finding Purpose in Pain (Paraclete Press, 2009, second printing 2010, third printing 2018)
  • Love's Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life (Paraclete Press, 2007) ISBN 978-1557255259

reissued in 2014 as *Endless Life: Poems of the Mystics

  • Short Trip to the Edge: Where Earth Meets Heaven—A Pilgrimage (HarperSanFrancisco, 2007) ISBN 978-0060843229

second edition, Paraclete Press, 2016, Greek edition, Parrisia Books, Athens, 2014, Romanian edition, Editura Doxologia, Iasi,2018.

  • Compass of Affection: Poems New and Selected (Paraclete Press, 2006) ISBN 978-1557255037
  • Philokalia (Zoo Press, 2002) ISBN 978-0970817730
  • Recovered Body (George Braziller Publishers, 1998, reprinted by Eighth Day Books, 2003) ISBN 978-0971748347
  • Figures for the Ghost (University of Georgia Press, 1994) ISBN 978-0820316017
  • Disciplinary Treatises (Trilobite Press, 1993)
  • Sermons for the Wary (Franciscan University Press, 1993)
  • The Translation of Babel (University of Georgia Press, 1990) ISBN 978-0820311999
  • The Theology of Doubt (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1985) ISBN 978-0914946526
  • Finding the Broken Man (Window Press, 1982)


External links