"Who says my poems are poems?
My poems are not poems.
When you know that my poems are not poems,
then we can speak of poetry."
--Ryokan (1758-1831), Zen hermit-poet
Born into a family of artists, clergy, cowboys, fly-fishermen, and poets, Owen studied for a decade with Darion Kuma Gracen (doña Río), a New Mexican wilderness guide and Zen wisewoman who guided various students through an informal "curriculum" of silent illumination (meditation), proprioceptive writing exercises, dreamwork, knee-to-knee discussions, and long walks in the mountains, forests, and arroyos of Colorado and New Mexico. Before her death in 2007, she gave him the Japanese Dharma name Saizan (西山, Western Mountain), a name containing a symbolic nod to the Buddhist cosmology known as the Western Pure Land.
Inspired by the Chan (Zen)/Daoist poetic tradition, his studies of eco-poetry with the late Jack Collom of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, and the wider human lineage of cross-cultural mystical poetry, Owen's poems are shaped by dreams, the seasons, diverse landscapes, Jungian archetypes, forgotten myth-lines in the deeper strata of ancestral DNA, pots of green chile pozole, and occasional sips of tequila and sake.
His poems have been published in literary journals with a contemplative and ecological focus, such as Written River: The Journal of Eco-Poetics and The Wayfarer, including The Wayfarer's 5th Anniversary / Autumn 2017 issue. In the Spring of 2017, Owen's first book of poetry, The School of Soft-Attention, was selected as the winner of the 2017 Homebound Publications Poetry Prize. The School of Soft-Attention will be published by Homebound Publications and available for purchase in September 2018.
At present, he is working on a second book of poetry and a novel partially based on the colorful, controversial, highly entertaining, and enlightening life of 13th-century renegade Zen master Ikkyu Sojun (a.k.a. Crazy Cloud).