Owens was born in Greenwood, South Carolina, and raised in mill villages and on his grandparents' small farm. His father was in the military, and the family later moved to Fort Bragg, NC, and then to Darmstadt, Germany, and Augusta, Georgia, where he graduated from the Academy of Richmond County. Most of his early childhood was lived below the poverty line, necessitating frequent relocation in and around Greenwood. His childhood was also marked by periods of domestic abuse by his stepfathers. His mother was married 6 times during his childhood and his father 5 times. Three of their marriages were to each other.
Owens was the first member of his family to attend college. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Education at Ohio University, continuing on to the University of North Carolina, Charlotte for a Masters Degree in English. He also earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and taught at the middle school, high school, and college levels, including a stint as Headmaster of The Patterson School. He is the founder of the reading series, Poetry Hickory (2007 - ), author of the poetry column, "Musings," published in Outlook, editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, founding editor of 234, former Associate Editor of Southern Poetry Review, Vice President of the Poetry Council of NC and the NC Poetry Society, Founder of The Art of Poetry at the Hickory Museum of Art, and a writer of reviews of poetry collections. He has taught creativity, writing, and poetry workshops at various schools, conferences, and conventions throughout the Southeast. Owens is recognized as a proponent of and community organizer for poetry.
Owens has completed most of his creative and critical work while living in Hickory, North Carolina, and teaching at Catawba Valley Community College. His poems have been nominated for nine Pushcart Prizes and seven Best of the Net Awards, and received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the North Carolina Poetry Society, the Poetry Society of South Carolina, the Next Generation Indie Awards, and the North Carolina Writer's Network. His poem, "So Norman Died of Course,"received a Special Mention from the Pushcart Prize Anthology for 2009 and "On the Days I Am Not My Father," "Cleaning House," and "Rails" were featured on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac in 2008  and "Cleaning House" in 2014. His more than 1100 published poems have appeared in a diverse range of journals, including Georgia Review, North American Review, Poetry East, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Cimarron Review, Greensboro Review, Chattahoochee Review, Cream City Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Cottonwood, among others. More than 100 of his essays and reviews have appeared in Main Street Rag, The Pilot, Pirene's Fountain, and many others. Owens' papers are housed in the South Carolina Poetry Archives in the James B Duke Library at Furman University.
Owens' poems treat a wide range of themes often expressed as dialectics, including faith and agnosticism, abuse and parenting, alienation and existentialism, loneliness and collaboration, entrapment and liberation, personal relationships and self-sufficiency, the disappearance of a rural American South characterized as both pastoral and violent, and the possibilities of redemption as his characters attempt to make sense of an often seemingly senseless world. His settings and imagery are familiar but often quirky, utilizing extended metaphors and juxtaposing the mundane with the transcendent in sometimes disturbing ways. His work is marked by diversity in tone, style and subject matter, at times nearly formal, at other times conversational and performance-based; at times political, at other times focused on nature; at times distraught about the state of humanity, but just as often optimistic and celebratory. He often re-envisions the lives of familiar historical and mythological characters and has created his own everyman figure named Norman. He cites deep imagism, confessionalism, and surrealism among his strongest influences. and lists Whitman, Frost, Stevens, Williams, Cummings, Plath, Sexton, Yannis Ritsos, Yehuda Amichai, CP Cavafy, George Seferis, Adrienne Rich, Galway Kinnell, and Tim Peeler as the poets who have had the greatest impact on his own work and thought.
- To (Main Street Rag, 2014)
- Eye of the Beholder (Main Street Rag, 2013)
- Shadows Trail Them Home (Clemson University Press, 2012)
- For One Who Knows How to Own Land (Future Cycle Press, 2012)
- Country Roads: Travels Through Rural North Carolina, Collaboration with Photographer Clayton Joe Young (2012)
- Something Knows the Moment (Main Street Rag, 2011)
- The Nature of Attraction, collaboration with Pris Campbell (Main Street Rag, 2010)
- Paternity (Main Street Rag, 2010)
- The Fractured World (Main Street Rag, 2008)
- Book of Days (Dead Mule, 2009)
- Deceptively Like a Sound (Dead Mule, 2008)
- The Persistence of Faith (Sandstone, 1994)
- Architecture of loss and loneliness
- Wild Goose Poetry Review
- The Pedestal Magazine
- The Fractured World by Scott Owens (poems)
- Joe Milford Hosts Scott Owens!
- Observer News Enterprise - Hope and Redemption in a Broken, ‘Fractured World'
- The Writer's Almanac - Friday, November 7th, 2008
- ibid, Thursday, January 23rd, 2014