Off the Shelf: Gregory Orr

September 20, 2013

Off the Shelf: Gregory Orr, “River Inside the River.” W.W. Norton & Co.

In language praised as “transcendent” and “incantatory,” poet and University of Virginia English professor Gregory Orr has published three sequences of poems in his 12th book, “River Inside the River.”

Orr founded the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences’ Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing and has taught here since 1975.

In her Christian Science Monitor review, critic Elizabeth Lund wrote, “Orr’s writing feels transcendent. Language shines, shimmers, delights and rises as high as it can.”

In the Cortland Review, contributing editor David Rigsbee described “River Inside the River” as “a striking meditation on art’s free-standing place in the natural world and of the feeling of rightness, of restitution, even resurrection – not of bodies, but of the sense of having been justified and hence forgiven by the thing that we do, this art.”

Orr will read one of his recent poems for PBS “NewsHour” poetry series next week. Look for it on the website Wednesday or shortly thereafter.

The literary website, The Rumpus, recently published an interview with Orr and an article on why his book was chosen for its online poetry book club.

Orr’s most recent poetry collections since 2000 include “The City of Poetry,” “How Beautiful the Beloved,” “Concerning the Book That is the Body of the Beloved,” “The Caged Owl” and “Orpheus and Eurydice.”

He also has published a memoir, “The Blessing,” which was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the 50 best non-fiction books of 2002.

Another of his nonfiction books, “Poetry as Survival,” was characterized by the late poet Adrienne Rich as “a wise and passionate book.” Orr’s personal essay on poetry as survival was broadcast on National Public Radio’s “This I Believe” series in spring 2006 and was published in an anthology featuring the same title.

The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Orr received the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2003.

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Anne E. Bromley

University News Associate Office of University Communications