Join us as we celebrate the reissue of Gregory Orr’s memoir, The Blessing. A signing will follow. This event will be free and open to the public.
Hailed on its original publication as “eloquent testimony to the engaging power of art in a man’s life” (Washington Post), this deeply moving memoir, long out of print, is reissued with an illuminating new afterword.
When acclaimed poet Gregory Orr was twelve years old, he shot and killed his brother in a hunting accident. From the immediate aftermath—a period of shock, sadness, and isolation—it quickly became clear that support and guidance would not be coming from his distant mother. Nor would it come from his father, a philandering country doctor addicted to amphetamines. Left to his own devices, the boy suffered.
Guilt weighed on him throughout a childhood split between the rural Hudson Valley and jungles of Haiti. As a young man, his feelings and a growing sense of idealism prompted him to activism in the civil rights movement, where he marched and was imprisoned, and then scarred again by a terrifying abduction. Eventually, Orr’s experiences led him to understand that art, particularly poetry, could work as a powerful source of healing and meaning to combat the trauma he carried.
Throughout The Blessing, Orr articulates his journey in language as lyrical as it is authentic, gifting us all with a singular tale of survival, and of the transformation of suffering into art.
"The Blessing is an extraordinary book, full of luminous details, beautifully clear writing, and short, gorgeous chapters. . . . While The Blessing tells the story of becoming a poet and recounts a childhood full of wonder, it is more insistently a tale of survival, of a painful blessing, wounding, and growing through trauma and tragedy."
—American Poetry Review
Gregory Orr has written twelve poetry collections, a memoir, and several books of essays and criticism. Prior to his retirement, he taught for more than forty years at the University of Virginia, where he established its MFA program and served as its first director. The recipient of an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Orr lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Photo Credit: Trisha Orr