1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Gregory Orr


431 Bryan Hall

Office Hours:

T 11:00-3:40 by appointment

Class Schedule:

MW 2:00-4:30


M.F.A. Columbia, 1972
B.A. Antioch, 1969

GREGORY ORR is the author of ten collections of poetry, including the forthcoming How Beautiful the Beloved (Copper Canyon Press, 2009) and the recent booklength lyric sequence Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved (Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Among his other volumes of poetry are: The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems, Orpheus and Eurydice, City of Salt ( Finalist, LA Times Poetry Prize), We Must Make a Kingdom of It, The Red House, Gathering the Bones Together, and Burning the Empty Nests.

He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2003, he was presented the Award in Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has also been a Rockefeller Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Culture and Violence, where he worked on a study of the political and social dimension of the lyric in early Greek poetry.

He is also the author of a memoir, The Blessing (Council Oak Books, 2002), which was chosen by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the fifty best non-fiction books of 2002.

His recent book, Poetry as Survival (University of Georgia Press, 2002) was characterized by Adrienne Rich as “a wise and passionate book.” Earlier prose collections include Richer Entanglements: Essays and Notes on Poetry and Poems (University of Michigan Poets on Poetry), and Stanley Kunitz: An Introduction to the Poetry (Columbia University Press). His personal essay was chosen to be broadcast on National Public Radio’s “This I Believe” series in the spring of 2006 and published in the anthology This I Believe.

He is a Professor of English at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1975 and was the founder and first director of its MFA Program in Writing. He served from 1978 to 2003 as Poetry Editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. He lives with his wife the painter Trisha Orr, and his two daughters in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Creative Writing


River Inside the River, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2013
The City of Poetry, Sarabande Books, 2012
How Beautiful the Beloved, Copper Canyon Press, 2011
The Caged Owl, Copper Canyon Press, 2002
Orpheus and Eurydice, Copper Canyon Press, 2000
Gathering the bones together, 1998
Burning the Empty Nests, Carnegie-Mellon Press, 1997
City of Salt, University of Pittsburgh, 1995
We Must Make a Kingdom of it , Wesleyan University Press, 1986
Salt wings, Poetry East, 1981
The Red House, HarperCollins, 1981

Collections of Poems

  • How Beautiful the Beloved, Copper Canyon Press, forthcoming 2009.
  • Concerning the Book That is the Body of the Beloved, Copper Canyon Press, 2005.
  • The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems, Copper Canyon Press, 2002.
  • Orpheus and Eurydice, Copper Canyon Press, 2000.
  • City of Salt. U of Pittsburgh, 1995.
  • New and Selected Poems. Wesleyan U P, 1988.
  • We Must Make A Kingdom of It. Wesleyan U P, 1986.
  • The Red House. Harper and Row, 1980.
  • Salt Wings. (Chapman) Poetry East, 1980.
  • Gathering the Bones Together. Harper and Row, 1975.
  • Burning the Empty Nests. Harper and Row, 1973; Carnegie-Mellon UP, 1996.


  • Poetry as Survival, University of Georgia Press, 2002.
  • The Blessing: A Memoir, Council Oak Books, San Francisco, 2002.

Collections of Essays

Richer Entanglements: Essays and Notes on Poetry and Poems, University of Michigan Press, Poets on Poetry Series, 1993.


Stanley Kunitz: An Introduction to the Poetry, Columbia University Press, 1985.

Anthologies Edited

Poets Teaching Poets: Self in the World (essays on poetry by teaching poets), co-edited with Ellen Bryant Voigt, University of Michigan Press, 1996.

Poems in Anthologies (partial list)

  • The Best American Poetry, 2007, edited by Heather McHugh and David Lehman, Scribner, 2007.
  • The Best Catholic Writing, 2007, edited by Jim Manney, Loyola Press, 2007
  • The Music Lover’s Poetry Anthology, edited by Helen Houghton and Maureen Draper, Persea Books, 2007.
  • Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths, ed. Nina Kossman, Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • Inventions of Farewell, ed. by Sandra Gilbert, Norton, 2001.
  • The Body Electric: Twenty-Five Years of American Poetry Review, ed. Berg, Bonano, and Vogelsang, Norton 2000.
  • I Feel a Little Jumpy Around You, ed. Nye and Janeczko, Simon and Shuster, 1996.
  • Acquainted with the Night, ed. Spaar, Columbia U. Press, 1999.
  • Contemporary American Poetry: A Breadloaf Anthology, ed. by Plumly and Collier, University Press of New England, 1999.
  • The Wesleyan Tradition: Four Decades of American Poetry, ed. Michael Collier, Wesleyan/New England, 1993.
  • More Light: Father and Daughter Poems, Harvest, 1993.
  • Poetspeak, ed. Janescko, Collier, Macmillan, 1992.
  • Reading Texts, McCormick and Waller, D.C.Heath, 1987.
  • Invitation to Poetry, ed. Parini, Prentice-Hall, 1986.
  • Literature: The Power of Language, McLaughlin, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1988.
  • Best of Intro, ed. Simic, 1986.
  • Survey of American Poetry: Midcentury to 1980, Roth Publishing, 1987.
  • Nuevas Voces de Norteamerica, ed. by Claribel Alegria and D.J.Flakoll, Plaza & Janes, S.A. 1981.
  • To Read Literature, (2nd edition), Holt, Rinehart, 1987.
  • The Best of Antaeus, ed. Halpern, Ecco Press, 1986.
  • Breadloaf Poetry Anthology, ed. by Pack and Lea, New England Universities Press, 1985.
  • Breadloaf Anthology of Nature Poetry, ed. Pack and Parini, New England Universities Press, 1993.
  • Elements of Literature, Fourth Course, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1987.
  • The Morrow Anthology of Younger American Poets, ed. Smith and Bottoms, William Morrow, 1985.
  • The Generation of 2000, ed. William Heyen, Ontario Review Press, 1984.
  • Pocket Poems, ed. Janescko, Bradbury Press, 1985.
  • Leaving the Bough, ed. Roger Gaess, International Publishers, 1982.
  • Poetspeak, ed. Janescko, Bradbury Press (1982), Macmillan (1992).
  • To Read Poetry, ed. Donald Hall, Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1982.
  • The Poet's Choice, Tendril, 1981.
  • Heath Guide to Literature, ed. Bergman and Epstein, D.C. Heath, 1983.
  • A Writer's Reader, Hall/Enklen, Little, Brown, 1979.
  • Pushcart Prize II; Best of the Small Magazines, ed. Henderson, Pushcart Press, 1981.
  • Eating Poetry, Harper and Row, 1977.
  • A Fine Frenzy, ed. Baylor and Stokes; McGraw-Hill, 1977.
  • The Whole World Catalogue, ed. Zavatsky and Padgett, McGraw-Hill, 1977.
  • Leaping Poetry, ed. Robert Bly, Beacon Press, 1975.
  • American Poetry Anthology, ed. Halpern; Avon Books, 1975.
  • Poems One Line and Longer, ed. Cole;Grossman Publishers, 1973.
  • Messages, ed. X.J.Kennedy; Little, Brown, 1973.
  • Intro #3, ed. Cassil; McCalls/Bantam, 1970.
  • Quickly Aging Here, ed. Hewitt; Anchor Doubleday, 1969.

Individual Essays (partial list)

  • "This I Believe", National Public Radio, broadcast on "All Things Considered" Feb. 20, 2006, published in the anthology This I Believe (Henry Holt, 2007).
  • "Return to Hayneville" Virginia Quarterly Review, forthcoming, Spring, 2008.
  • "Praxiteles and the Shapes of Grief", New Literary History Summer 2006,
    "Healing and Literature" issue.
  • "Turning and Re-Turning: The Art of Jake Berthot", Virginia Quarterly Review, Fall, 2006 issue.
  • "Remembering Stanley Kunitz", American Poet, volume 31, Fall 2006.
  • "From the Province of the Saved: Emily Dickinson and Healing", essay in Wider than the Sky: Essays and Meditations on the Healing Power of Emily Dickinson. Ed. by MacKenzie and Dana, Kent State University Press, 2007. 
  • "Poetry and the Idea of the Book", The Writer’s Chronicle, Oct/Nov. 2006.
  • "After the Bell: Contemporary American Prose about School", edited by Maggie Anderson and David Hassler, University of Iowa Press, 2007.
  • "Paths and Pearls: Some Thoughts on the Writing of Memoir and Lyric", Poets and Writers Magazine, Sept/Oct. 2002.(reprinted in The Practical Writer, Penguin, 2004).
  • "Poetry and Survival", AWP Writers Chronicle, Sept/Oct. 2002.
  • "The Interrupted Scheme: Some Thoughts on Disorder and Order in the Lives of Poets and the Lives of Poems" in Written in Water, Written in Stone: Twenty Years of Poets on Poetry, ed. by Lammon, Univerity of Michigan Press, 1996.
  • "The Postconfessional Lyric" in The Columbia History of American Poetry: New Views, ed. by Parini, Columbia University Press, New York, 1993.
  • "The Two-Way Ladder: On the Friendship and Mutual Influence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell," American Poetry Review, Sept./Oct. 1991.
  • "Our Lady of Sorrows: Some Thoughts on Jane Kenyon" in Bright Uniquivocal Eye: Poems, Papers, and Remembrances from the First Jane Kenyon Conference, edited by Bert Hornback. Peter Lang Publishers, 2000.


In Pedestal and Iron Horse Review, biographical information and sample poems posted on Academy of American Poets Website.


  • “This I Believe” National Public Radio broadcast on “All Things Considered”
    Feb. 20, 2006 (published in book form and audio-book form by Henry Holt)
  • “Father’s Song” broadcast on “Writers’ Almanac” read by Garrison Keilor, December 21, 2005, Minnesota Public Radio.

Recent Poems in Magazines

Image, Smartish Place, Poetry International.


Library of Congress, BBC Poetry Program (London), Academy of American Poets, NYC, Cornell, Goddard, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Chapel Hill, University of Iowa and numerous other colleges and universities.

Poems translated into and published in

Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Slovak, Korean, Japanese, Ukranian, Serbian, Slovenian, Hungarian.


  • from Russian, poems of Natalya Gorbanevskaya and Naum Korshavin, in Russian Literature Triquarterly and the Ardis Anthology of Contemporary Russian Literature.
  • from Ukranian, poems of Ivan Drach in Orchard Lamps (Sheep Meadow Press, 1978) and poems of Euhen Pluzhnyk (with Bohdan Doychuk) in New Directions Annual.

Fellowships, Awards and Prizes (partial list)

  • Keynote Speaker, National Association of Poetry Therapists, May 2005.
  • Award for High Achievement, American Academy of Arts and Letters, May, 2003.
  • Virginia Prize for Poetry, Finalist, 2003.
  • Rockefeller Fellow, Institute for Culture and Violence.
  • Virginia Foundation for the Humanities,2001-2002.
  • Sesquicentennial Associate for the Center for Advanced Studies, U. of Virginia, 1981-1982; 1987-1988; 1993; 1998.
  • Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry, 1995 (for City of Salt).
  • Lecturer, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Summer Institute for Teachers, 1992 to present.
  • National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship: 1978, 1989.
  • 1984 Virginia Prize for Poetry (judges: W.D.Snodgrass, Lucille Clifton, Gerald Stern).
  • Senior Fulbright Scholar, Yugoslav-American Writers Exchange Program, 1983.
  • Poet-in-Residence, Volcano National Park, Hawaii, Nov. 1982.
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 1977-1978.

Reviewed in (2002-2003)

New York Times Book Review, American Poetry Review, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Review, San Francisco Chronicle, Harvard Review, Washington Post Book World, Southern Review, Georgia Review, Poetry, Creative Non-Fiction, Valpariso Poetry Review, ALA Book Review, American Book Review.