Aftermath Sonnet

Gregory Orr

Letting my tongue sleep,And my heart go numb.Sensing that speechToo soon,After such a wound,Would only beA different bleeding.Even needing to leaveThe page blank.Long seasonOf silence—Trusting that underIts bandage of snow,The field of me is healing.

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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.

In this moving, playful, and deeply philosophical volume, Gregory Orr seeks innovative ways for the imagination to respond to and create meaning out of painful experiences, while at the same time rejoicing in love and language. A passionate exploration of the forces that shape us, The Last Love Poem I Will Ever Write explores themes of survival and the powerlessness of the self in a chaotic and unfair world, finding hope in the emotions and vitality of poetry. With characteristic meditative lyricism, the poet reflects on grief and the power of language in extended odes (“Ode to Nothing,” “Ode to Words”) and slips effortlessly from personal trauma (“Song of What Happens”) to public catastrophe (“Charlottesville Elegy”).

The Last Love Poem I Will Ever Write confirms Orr’s place among the preeminent lyric poets of his generation, engaging the deepest existential issues with wisdom and humor and transforming them into celebratory song

Praise for Gregory Orr

"A Walt Whitman without an inch of Whitman’s bunting or oratory. Gregory Orr is a gorgeous poet."
– Mary Oliver

"Gregory Orr’s poems have always had the stunning ability to place mindfulness almost instantly back inside the mind."
– Naomi Shahib Nye

"Gregory Orr is a kind of oracular bard, praising…the enduring capacity of the poetic imagination."
– Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR

"Orr’s graceful lines convey complex ideas about the ability of language to shape how people experience and act in the world…[His] writing feels transcendent. Language shines, shimmers, delights, and rises as high as it can."
– Elizabeth Lund, Christian Science Monitor

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