Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved

Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved

by Gregory Orr
     
 

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“The heart of Orr’s poetry, now as ever, is the enigmatic image . . . mystical, carnal, reflective, wry.”—San Francisco Review

This book-length sequence of ecstatic, visionary lyrics recalls Rumi in its search for the beloved and its passionate belief in the healing qualities of art and beauty.

Concerning the Book that is the

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Overview

“The heart of Orr’s poetry, now as ever, is the enigmatic image . . . mystical, carnal, reflective, wry.”—San Francisco Review

This book-length sequence of ecstatic, visionary lyrics recalls Rumi in its search for the beloved and its passionate belief in the healing qualities of art and beauty.

Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved is an incantatory celebration of the “Book,” an imaginary and self-gathering anthology of all the lyrics—both poems and songs—ever written. Each poem highlights a distinct aspect of the human condition, and together the poems explore love, loss, restoration, the beauty of the world, the beauty of the beloved, and the mystery of poetry. The purpose and power of the Book is to help us live by reconnecting us to the world and to our emotional lives.

I put the beloved
In a wooden coffin.
The fire ate his body;
The flames devoured her.
I put the beloved
In a poem or song.
Tucked it between
Two pages of the Book.
How bright the flames.
All of me burning,
All of me on fire
And still whole.

There is nothing quite like this book—an “active anthology” in the best sense—where individuals find the poems and songs that will sustain them. Or the poems find them.

Gregory Orr is the author of eight books of poetry, four volumes of criticism, and a memoir. He has received numerous awards for his work, most recently the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Orr has taught at the University of Virginia since 1975 and was, for many years, the poetry editor of The Virginia Quarterly Review. He lives with his family in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Orr's first book since The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems (2002) has little in common with the hushed, observant lyric that made his reputation in the 1970s; this eighth collection is, instead, a confident, mystical, expansive project, whose very clear short poems (almost 200 of them) constitute a meditation and ritual for grieving a lost beloved. The first poem invokes the Egyptian god Osiris, whose lover Isis resurrected him by collecting his scattered parts: "We must find them... As an anthologist might collect/ All the poems that matter," Orr intones. As he pursues that goal, however, his own poems can be overbroad in focus: "The heart knows all/ These songs/ And a million of its own," one poem says. "The risk is always there," a later poem states, "And the challenge, too: To take it in, to feel it, and then/ To speak it back in poems and songs." "When the beloved dies," he explains later, "It's only to ask more of you,/ So you become richer from giving." Near the end, Orr describes his own poetry as "a silent saying/ Of all/ We hold dear." Poems about earlier poets (Sappho, Emily Dickinson, Apollinaire) add detail but fail to change the tone. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781556592294
Publisher:
Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
09/01/2005
Pages:
200
Sales rank:
681,706
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Gregory Orr is the author of ten books of poetry, four collections of criticism, and a memoir that was selected by Publishers Weekly as a "Best Book of the Year." The former poetry editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review, Orr teaches at the University of Virginia and lives in Charlottesville.

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