PHIL COUSINEAU is a writer, teacher, editor, independent scholar, documentary filmmaker, travel leader, and storyteller. His life-long fascination with the art, literature, and history of culture has taken him on many journeys around the world. He lectures frequently on a wide range of topics--from mythology, film, and writing, to beauty, travel, sports, and creativity. He has more than 30 nonfiction books and 15 scriptwriting credits to his name.
Born at an army hospital in Columbia, South Carolina in the 1950s, Phil Cousineau grew up just outside of Detroit, once known as the "Paris of the Midwest," as he’s fond of saying. While moonlighting in a steel factory he studied journalism at the University of Detroit. Before turning to writing books and films full-time in the 1980s, Cousineau’s peripatetic career included stints as a sportswriter, playing semi-professional basketball in Europe, harvesting date trees on an Israeli kibbutz, painting 44 Victorian houses in San Francisco, and teaching screenwriting at the American Film Institute.
Two books of word stories, The Painted Word: A Treasure Chest of Remarkable Words and Their Origins (2013), and Wordcatcher: An Odyssey into the World of Weird and Wonderful Words, as well as a highly coveted little book on storytelling, The Oldest Story in the World, are recently published works. Wordcatcher was honored as a "Top Book of 2010" on PBS by independent booksellers. Cousineau's long-awaited book on creativity, Stoking the Creative Fires: 9 Ways to Rekindle Passion and Imagination, released in 2008. Other recent works include two books of poetry: Night Train, The Blue Museum and The Accidental Aphorist.
Once and Future Myths: The Power of Ancient Stories in Modern Times, and The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred (more than 130,000 copies sold), both appeared on several bestsellers’ lists. The Soul Aflame: A Modern Book of Hours, and The Book of Roads, a volume of Cousineau’s travel stories and reflections, are also acclaimed titles. Other works include A Seat at the Table: Huston Smith in Conversation with Native Americans on Religious Freedom, The Way Things Are: Conversations with Huston Smith on the Spiritual Life, and The Olympic Odyssey, an original book about rekindling the fire that sparked the ancient Olympic Games.
Cousineau's other titles include Design Outlaws: On the Ecological Frontier, Soul, An Archaeology: Readings from Socrates to Ray Charles, The Soul of the World: A Modern Book of Hours, The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work, and Deadlines: A Rhapsody on a Theme of Famous and Infamous Last Words, which won the Fallot Literary Award. Cousineau worked with drummer John Densmore on his bestselling autobiography, Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and The Doors, and is a contributor to more than 40 other books. Cousineau's works have been translated into nine languages.
His screenwriting credits in documentary films, which have won more than 35 international awards, include: A Seat at the Table, Ecological Design: Inventing the Future, Wayfinders: A Pacific Odyssey, The Peyote Road, The Red Road to Sobriety, Your Humble Serpent: The Life of Reuben Snake, Wiping the Tears of Seven Generations, Eritrea: March to Freedom, The Presence of the Goddess, The Hero's Journey: The World of Joseph Campbell, and the 1991 Academy Award-nominated documentary, Forever Activists: Stories from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
An expert on mythology and film and the "hero journey" structure of screenplays, Cousineau consults on many types of writing and film projects, from quirky independent documentaries to big studio productions. He has consulted on film projects for Warner Bros., LucasFilm, and Pixar. The “omnipresent influence of myth in modern life” is a thread that runs through all of his work.
APPEARANCES and ON-SCREEN WORK
Cousineau is an inspiring speaker. He has been the keynote presenter at major conferences as diverse as the Ansel Adams Centennial Celebration in Yosemite National Park and the European Unitarian Universalist’s Fall Retreat in the Netherlands. He has been invited to lecture at distinguished venues such as the University of California, Berkeley; the University of California, Los Angeles; Stanford University; Pacifica Graduate Institute; the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago; Syracuse University; and the University of Tennessee. In 2011 he was the lead presenter at TEDx in San Jose, California. He has collaborated and appeared with many of the great thinkers and philosophers of our time, including mentors Joseph Campbell and Huston Smith, as well as Robert A. Johnson, James Hillman, Brian Swimme, Robert Bly, Brother David Steindl-Rast, Marija Gimbutas, Angeles Arrien, and many others. He has enjoyed collaborating with musicians and artists such as David Darling, R.B. Morris, Cliff Aerie, and Gregg Chadwick.
Currently the host of Global Spirit, an "internal travel" television series airing internationally on Link TV and also broadcasting on PBS-TV stations in the US, Cousineau has also appeared as an expert on CNN, The Discovery Channel, and more. An on-camera expert for BBC-2’s Joseph Campbell: Hollywood’s Myth Master tribute and the Fox Network special, Star Wars: The Legacy, Cousineau has also been featured on NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, CBC's Tapestry, Deepak Chopra's Sirius Wellness Radio and many other syndicated radio programs. He has been interviewed for articles in Time and Newsweek magazines as well as The New York Times. He appeared on the Hallmark Channel's New Morning Show sharing views on the "soul of place" and "the creative fire." Look for his expert commentary and mythic take on movies among the special features on the DVDs of Constantine, Double Indemnity, the deluxe Superman boxed set, The Natural, Wonder Woman, and The Supernatural, among others. He was interviewed on the topic of "Myth and Baseball" for three MLB-produced baseball documentaries released in 2015.
Cousineau is a former fellow of the Joseph Campbell Foundation and former board member of Sacred Sites International Foundation. He is a visiting faculty member of the Sophia Center at Holy Names University and is on the faculty of the annual Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference.
Cousineau is currently the host and co-writer of Global Spirit, a cross-cultural and transnational television series which premiered on PBS stations in summer 2012. The program explores global issues ranging from sacred music and spiritual activism, to the search for ecstatic experience, forgiveness, and attitudes toward death and dying. Guests include Robert Thurman, Karen Armstrong, Deepak Chopra, Joanne Shenandoah, Chief Oren Lyons, Andrew Harvey, Peter Russell, Pico Iyer, and more.
Additionally, Cousineau is currently crafting a new nonfiction work on beauty and a young adult novel about baseball. He and his family live on Telegraph Hill in North Beach, San Francisco.