Off the Shelf: Gregory Orr

March 20, 2009 — Gregory Orr, professor of English, "How Beautiful the Beloved." Copper Canyon Press.

In his 10th book of poetry, Orr explores the carnal ache of living and loving in this equable, full-bodied and flowing collection. Through concise, perfectly formed poems, he wakes readers to the ecstatic possibilities of recognizing and risking love, of pain transformed to beauty. His central message is joy — the urge to say "Yes" — with each poem revealing a brief moment of happiness or longing, another moment of living in the arms of the beloved. "How Beautiful the Beloved" chronicles not only the body of the beloved but also his or her mind, heart and totality. Orr writes,

"Not many of them, it's true,
But certain poems
... bring us back
Always to the beloved."