Gregory Orr Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Gregory Orr’s prose writings are all about poetry. He has published a critical study, Stanley Kunitz: An Introduction to the Poetry (1985), and other works about poetry: Richer Entanglements: Essays and Notes on Poetry and Poems (1993) and Poets Teaching Poets: Self and the World, coedited with Ellen Bryant Voigt (1996). Poetry as Survival (2002), a collection of essays, and The Blessing: A Memoir (2002) are potent explorations of Orr’s use of the personal lyric as a response to tragedy.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Gregory Orr has received a number of awards and fellowships for his poetry, beginning with a Discovery Award from the Poetry Center of the Young Men’s-Young Women’s Hebrew Association and the University and College Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, both in 1970. He was a junior fellow of the Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan from 1972 to 1975, a Guggenheim Fellow from 1977 to 1978, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellow in 1978-1979 and 1989-1990. He was also a Fulbright Scholar and a Rockefeller Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Culture and Violence, and received the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2003. The Blessing was chosen as one of the fifty best nonfiction works of 2002 by Publishers Weekly. He received the Rebecca Rice Award from Antioch College in 2009 and a Pushcart Prize in 2010. His poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Atlantic, Field, Harper’s, The Nation, The Paris Review, and Poetry, among many other publications.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Glück, Louise. “On Gregory Orr’s Poems.” Iowa Review 3 (Fall, 1973): 86-88. Glück examines the characteristic persona assumed in Orr’s poetry, one of solitude of the narrator, inevitability of events, and ambiguity of experiences. This highly personal and compelling evaluation of Orr’s poetry includes ruminations on the cinematic quality of his poems and their sense of necessity, irreversibility, and dream logic.

Harris, Peter. “A Shelter, a Kingdom, a Half Promised Land: Three Poets in Mid-Career.” Virginia Quarterly Review 63 (Summer, 1987): 426-436. This enlightening essay examines Orr’s distinct vision of psychic, surreal images. Harris studies the battle between abstraction and specific, familiar and metaphysical, body and soul, and hidden and known in Orr’s work. We Must Make a Kingdom of It is the featured text, and stanzas of several poems are used to illustrate key points.

Kohl, Greg. “Transparency and Prophecy.” Review of Burning the Empty Nests. American Poetry Review 14 (July/August, 1975): 40-42. Kohl has a very specific and explicit agenda in his exploration of Burning the Empty Nests: He seeks to determine the influences of shamanistic experiences and techniques and identify the value of shamanism in dealing with personal and social experience as found in Orr’s poetry....

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