A video featuring poet Gregory Orr, an English professor in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences, shows him talking about first writing poetry as a teenager, sitting at his desk in the cottage where he now writes, and running in his Charlottesville neighborhood. It’s part of a “Poets in Person” feature on Orr in the winter online issue of the Cortland Review.
The literary journal also includes excerpts – in text and audio – from Orr’s forthcoming 12th book of poems, “The River Inside the River,” plus an advance review by U.Va. English alumnus David Rigsbee.
Other U.Va.-related poets also have poems in the issue, including Charles Wright, Lisa Russ Spaar, Debra Nystrom and Paul Guest, as well as Orr’s daughter, Sophia.
Orr, who has taught at U.Va. since 1975, founded and was first director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing.
He has also published a study of lyric poetry and healing from trauma, “Poetry as Survival,” which the late poet Adrienne Rich described as “a wise and passionate book.” His memoir, “The Blessing,” was chosen by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the 50 best non-fiction books of 2002.
Orr wrote an essay, “Return to Haynesville,” on revisiting the rural jail where he was imprisoned in the summer of 1965 when he worked as a volunteer in the Civil Rights Movement, that was republished in all three annual anthologies of best non-fiction of 2009 – “Best Essays of 2009,” “Best Creative Non-fiction of 2009” and the Pushcart Prize.