PHIL COUSINEAU is an award-winning writer and filmmaker, story consultant and editor, travel leader and inspirational speaker on myth in the modern world. His life-long fascination with the art, literature, and history of culture has taken him on many journeys in many realms. He lectures frequently on a wide range of topics--from mythology, film, and writing, to beauty, travel, sports, and creativity. He has published more than 40 books and has earned 25 scriptwriting credits. "The omnipresent influence of myth in modern life" is a thread that runs through all of his work.
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." 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 in Los Angeles.
Recent works include The Lost Notebooks of Sisyphus: A Novel with Commentary (2021) and The Accidental Aphorist (2017). A third edition of Phil Cousineau's bestselling and beloved, The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred, released in 2021 with a new preface by the author. He has written two books about word origins, The Painted Word: A Treasure Chest of Remarkable Words and Their Origins and Wordcatcher: An Odyssey into the World of Weird and Wonderful Words, which was honored as a Top Book of the Year on NPR by independent booksellers. He also wrote a highly coveted little book on storytelling, The Oldest Story in the World, as well as a book on creativity, Stoking the Creative Fires: 9 Ways to Rekindle Passion and Imagination, based on twenty years of teaching and forty years of practice. He is also the author of three collections of poetry: Night Train, The Blue Museum, and Deadlines: A Rhapsody on Famous Last Words.
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 175,000 copies sold), both appeared on several bestsellers’ lists. Other works include The Soul Aflame: A Modern Book of Hours; The Book of Roads, a volume of Cousineau’s travel stories and reflections; 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.
Other books include Soul, An Archaeology: Readings from Socrates to Ray Charles; Design Outlaws: On the Ecological Frontier; 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 70 other books. His works have been translated into ten languages.
Phil Cousineau's screenwriting credits in documentary films, which have won more than 35 international awards, include: Earth Wisdom for a World in Crisis, Stealing Home, The Meaning of Tea: A Tea Inspired Journey, A Seat at the Table: Struggling for American Indian Religious Freedom, 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 Forever Activists: Stories from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
An expert on mythology and film, the use of the "Hero's Journey" in screenplays, and the Overstory and Understory aspects of dramatic structure, Phil Cousineau consults on many types of film projects, from independent documentaries to big studio feature productions. He has served as a story consultant on several projects for Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Studios, LucasFilm, and Pixar Studios.
APPEARANCES and ON-SCREEN WORK
Phil 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 lectured 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; the University of Tennessee; and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, when his book, Beyond Forgiveness, was selected as their Common Theme book of the year.
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.
Phil Cousineau was the host and co-writer of Global Spirit, a cross-cultural and transnational television series which aired on Link TV and on PBS-TV until 2018. The program explored global issues ranging from sacred music and spiritual activism, to the search for ecstatic experience, forgiveness, and attitudes toward death and dying. Guests included Robert Thurman, Karen Armstrong, Deepak Chopra, Joanne Shenandoah, Chief Oren Lyons, Andrew Harvey, Pico Iyer, and more.
He has been interviewed for articles in Time and Newsweek magazines as well as The New York Times. He appeared as an on-camera expert for CNN and The Discovery Channel on pilgrimage, for BBC-2’s Joseph Campbell: Hollywood’s Myth Master tribute, the Fox Network special, Star Wars: The Legacy, and the Hallmark Channel's New Morning Show sharing views on the soul of place and the creative fire. He been interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, CBC's Tapestry, Deepak Chopra's Sirius Wellness Radio and many other radio programs and podcasts.
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, Supernatural, The Arrow, and Batman, among others. He recently appeared in all four programs of the Smithsonian and Major League Baseball-produced Major League Legends documentary series: American Hercules: Babe Ruth; Iron Knight: Lou Gehrig; The Immortal: Ted Williams; and The Hammer of Hank Aaron.
A former fellow of the Joseph Campbell Foundation and former board member of Sacred Sites International Foundation, Couisineau was a visiting faculty member of the Sophia Center at Holy Names University and is currently on the faculty of the annual Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference. He is an Advisor to Explorer X and The Transformational Travel Council.
CURRENT PROJECTS AND EVENTS
Phil Cousineau is currently crafting a new nonfiction book on beauty and novel about baseball.
Click here to learn about his upcoming events, writer's retreats and travel programs.