Robert McDowell is a poet, performer, social activist for the advancement of women and women’s rights, storyteller, public speaker, educator, editor, and author of 16 books, including Poetry as Spiritual Practice (Free Press/Simon and Schuster). His most recent book, The World Next to This One (poetry), was published in 2014 by Salmon Press, Ireland.
He is also the coauthor of two volumes of literary theory, co-translator of a collection of stories by Ota Pavel in the Eastern European Penguin Classics Series, and editor of three anthologies.
McDowell’s poems, stories, nonfiction, blog content, essays, and reviews have appeared in hundreds of anthologies and periodicals around the world, including Best American Poetry, Poetry, The New Criterion, London Magazine, Sewanee Review, Poets & Writers, and The Hudson Review.
McDowell cofounded (with Lysa McDowell and Mark Jarman) and served as publisher of Story Line Press for 22 years, and he coedited (with Mark Jarman) The Reaper magazine for a decade.
Over the course of his career, he has selected and guided into print more than 300 books by Pulitzer Prize winners, A Nobel Laureate, five U.S. Poet Laureates, and intermediate and beginning writers. As a lifelong mentor of emerging poets and writers, McDowell especially champions women in print, literacy, and women’s rights.
A two-year Woolrich Fellow at Columbia University, Walter E. Dakin Fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and finalist for the Oregon Book Award, McDowell co-created The Poets’ Prize and the Rural Readers Project.
McDowell has taught in Bennington College’s MFA program, which he collaborated on the creation of; the University of Southern Indiana; UC Santa Cruz; and writers’ conferences such as the Taos Writers’ Conference and Donegal Festival.
He has led retreats and workshops at Esalen, Kripalu, Pine Manor Retreat Center, Sewanee Writers Conference, Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, West Chester Conference on Form and Narrative, Killybegs Festival in Ireland, and California Poets-in-the-Schools.
A dynamic keynote speaker and workshop leader, McDowell delivers talks on topics ranging from the hero’s journey to the spirit horse to neurotheology to career transformation. He has addressed many interfaith communities, and he recently performed with Dr. Rama Mani at the library of the United Nations in Geneva, Swtizerland.