Scott Cairns has taught at numerous universities including University of North Texas, Old Dominion University, and the University of Missouri. He was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 2006. His poems have been published in various periodicals, including The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, and Image: A Journal of Art and Religion. His collections include Philokalia: New & Selected Poems (Zoo Press, 2002), and The Theology of Doubt (Cleveland State University Press, 1985).
Cairns collaborated with composer, J. A. C. Redford, on the oratorio, "The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp." Redford and Cairns both wrote about their collaboration for Image journal (Image, 44). Cairns's "Writing the True Icon" describes how he became involved in the project; it records how, while writing the libretto, he daily prayed the prayer of icon writers so that he would hear and record the Saint's voice faithfully and artfully. Redford's essay, "Taste and See," recounts how he used Cairns's verses to guide his composing. Additionally, it illuminates some of the concerns that led him to choose a children's choir to narrate the oratorio. See Image's web pages for information about obtaining a copy of the articles.