Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved

Gregory Orr

Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved is an incantatory celebration that pushes the ecstatic lyric into epic realms. Gregory Orr discovers the beloved in everything, everywhere, and reconnects us—in the tradition of Rumi and Hafiz—to our emotional lives. Orr’s ambitious and visionary lyrics explore every dimension of what it is to be human, and this imagined “book” is a dynamic repository of expressive forms that tells humanity’s stories.
Mary Oliver wrote of the book: “What other poet do you know who would give his work such a title—ambitious and humble at the same time? He speaks now, in these many short poems, which in their entirety are really one long poem, of mysteries, of those things—emotions, situations, mind and heart states—which are beyond the definitive.”

ISBN: 9781556592294

Format: Paperback

When I open the Book

When I open the Book
I hear the poets whisper and weep,
Laugh and lament.

In a thousand languages
They say the same thing:
“We lived. The secret of life
Is love, which casts its wing
Over all suffering, which takes
In its arms the hurt child,
Which rises green from the fallen seed.”

About the Author

Gregory Orr is the author of twelve collections of poetry, most recently The Last Love Poem I Will Ever Write (Norton 2019). Milkweed Editions recently reissued his memoir, The Blessing (2019). His prose books include A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry (Norton, 2018) and Poetry as Survival (University of Georgia Press, 2002). At the Dodge Poetry Festival in 2018, he premiered a fifty-minute song/poem cycle, “The Beloved,” with the Parkington Sisters. He’s been interviewed by Krista Tippett for …

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“Gregory Orr’s new book is dazzling and timeless. Sure, the trappings of modern life appear at the edges of these poems, but their focus is so unwaveringly aimed toward the transcendent—not God, but the beloved—that we seem to slip into a less cluttered time. It’s an experience usually reserved for reading the ancients, and clearly that was partly Orr’s inspiration.” —Virginia Quarterly Review

“[Orr’s] eighth collection is… a confident, mystical, expansive project, whose very clear short poems (almost 200 of them) constitute a meditation and ritual for grieving a lost beloved.” —Publishers Weekly

Concerning the Book… is the fulfillment of everything lyric Orr has attained, and is less a book of modern poems than it is something timeless, immediately calling to mind the ecstasies of Rumi or Hafiz, even Rilke.” —Bookslut