Titles 1998-2018

The City of Poetry, Gregory Orr


Quarternote Chapbook Series #10

In The City of Poetry every house is a poem you are free to wander, to explore as long as you desire, as long as “it gives you pleasure.”  Permanent residents of the city include Rimbaud, Keats, Blake, Whitman, Trakl, Sappho, Villon, Coleridge, Neruda, Dickinson, Roethke, and Li Po.  Each dwelling announces a unique, iconic architecture, an organic manifestation of its resident’s spirit: Nor will Rumi permit a roof—/ He won’t have any barrier/ Between the infinite and him.  There is a river, but it’s known by different names—some call it Lethe, others Time; some by the name of a brook recalled from childhood.  Though the city overflows with the beauty and joy of abundant creation, it’s also home to “deepest horror and grief.”  The City of Poetry is Gregory Orr’s extended conceit, his ars poetica—a sequence that imaginatively celebrates the art even as it adds to it.  We are lucky to have Gregory Orr as tour guide through this metropolis, lucky to visit his own well deserved home in The City of Poetry, “Born of sorrow,/ Yet the joy in making it.”

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Additional Info

Gregory Orr is the author of ten collections of poetry. His fourth book of criticism, Three Strange Angels: Trauma and Transformation in Lyric Poetry was published by the University of Georgia Press in their Life of Poetry series, and his childhood memoir, The Blessing, appeared from Council Oak Books. The recipient of National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships, he has also been a Rockefeller Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Culture and Violence. He has taught at the University of Virginia since 1975, where he is Professor of English and was poetry editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review from 1978 to 2003. He lives with his wife, the painter, Trisha Orr, and his daughters in Charlottesville, Virginia. 


“There is no complaining, only gratitude. The poems themselves are as Frost said they must be: momentary stays against confusion. That Orr chooses to color his insights with classical human values is a cry in the wilderness for sanity.”

“ … Orr’s poems don’t feel like dusty museum pieces because there’s too much urgency of emotion, like the whisperings of a lover.... It’s like studying a lover’s face reflected on the surface of a glittering pond. The effect is blinding and impressionistic, but the careful study of what is barely seen reveals more than any total picture ever could.”
Virginia Quarterly Review

 “Gregory Orr’s ambitious and visionary lyric explores every dimension of what it is to be human.”
—Powell’s Books