Synopses & Reviews
Intended for general readers and for students and scholars of poetry, Poetry as Survival
is a complex and lucid analysis of the powerful role poetry can play in confronting, surviving, and transcending pain and suffering.
Gregory Orr draws from a generous array of sources. He weaves discussions of work by Keats, Dickinson, and Whitman with quotes from three-thousand-year-old Egyptian poems, Inuit songs, and Japanese love poems to show that writing personal lyric has helped poets throughout history to process emotional and experiential turmoil, from individual stress to collective grief. More specifically, he considers how the acts of writing, reading, and listening to lyric bring ordering powers to the chaos that surrounds us. Moving into more contemporary work, Orr looks at the poetry of Sylvia Plath, Stanley Kunitz, and Theodore Roethke, poets who relied on their own work to get through painful psychological experiences.
As a poet who has experienced considerable trauma especially as a child Orr refers to the damaging experiences of his past and to the role poetry played in his ability to recover and survive. His personal narrative makes all the more poignant and vivid Orr's claims for lyric poetry's power as a tool for healing. Poetry as Survival is a memorable and inspiring introduction to lyric poetry's capacity to help us find safety and comfort in a threatening world.
"Poet Gregory Orr takes an altogether more personal, more speculative, tack in his first book of prose....Many of Orr's clear and inspiring chapters seem meant not only as poetry criticism, but also as encouragement for poetry students or other beginning writers." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Gregory Orr is a professor of English at the University of Virginia and poetry editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. He is the author of eight collections of poetry, including The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems, and has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.