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Lyricism can erupt in the midst of desolation. Gregory Orr teaches at the University of Virginia.
Catalog Record: Orpheus & Eurydice : a lyric sequence | HathiTrust Digital Library
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Orr and I spoke recently about the changes in his work. How would you characterize the shifts in your work since Orpheus and Eurydice ? For me, that means concentration of language in a given moment of time. There are two phrases that work as central nodes for my imagination.
Om Orpheus & Eurydice
I was trying to use imagination and language to engage that story, but the central phrase was this kid wandering in a field gathering bones. It concerns a concept that I call the Book, all the lyric poems and all the songs ever written and recorded anywhere in any culture in any time.
I had always valued clarity and simplicity, even though my material in the early work was pretty anguished and personal. One can understand the redemptive power of poetry and still not be redeemed.
Orpheus & Eurydice: A Lyric Sequence
When I heard that phrase in my head, I would have to call that a moment of grace. There are two answers to that. I think of those as being part of a continually unfolding lyric sequence that does not have a plot. Those poems pretty much came to me and I wrote them all down because it was exciting to be hearing them. But when I was done, I chose some and threw away others. Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved is chronological—it presents the poems in the order they came to me and how they came to me.