Orr, David

Orr, David

Dangerous Household Items

  • Published Date: Copper Canyon Press, 2018

David Orr

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“David Orr is an authentic iconoclast. His criticism is exuberant and original. Dr. Johnson, my critical hero, urged us to clear our mind of cant. Orr has cleared his. He will enhance the perception of his readers.” —Harold Bloom

“A poetry critic and poet himself, David Orr’s work often explores a gray area of literary professionalism and process. A columnist for the New York Times Book Review. . . . Orr shows himself to be a reader interested in cutting through noise, particularly with the realities of writing and publishing in a popular culture.” — Ploughshares

In his wry debut collection of poetry, celebrated critic David Orr ponders the dark underworld of the ordinary, as he traverses the suburban gothic landscape of modern America. Orr finds and names what’s at the core of being human: sorrow, kindness, familial love, and memory. The poems are playful, fashioned of fables, familiar objects, and the supernatural, inviting every reader to enter in.

You, Too, Could Write a Poem

  • Published Date: Penguin Random House, 2017

David Orr

9780143128199 ece8bA collection of reviews and essays by David Orr, the New York Times poetry columnist and one of the most respected critics in America today, his best work of the past fifteen years in one place
 
Poetry is never more vital, meaningful, or accessible than in the hands of David Orr. In the pieces collected here, most of them written originally for the New York Times, Orr is at his rigorous, conversational, and edifying best. Whether he is considering the careers of contemporary masters, such as Louise Glück or Frederick Seidel, sizing up younger American poets, like Matthea Harvey and Matthew Zapruder, or even turning his attention to celebrities and public figures, namely Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Fry, when they choose to wade into the hotly contested waters of the poetry world, Orr is never any less than fully persuasive in arguing what makes a poem or poet great—or not. After all, as Orr points out in his introduction, “Poetry is a lot like America, in the sense that liking all of it means that you probably shouldn’t be trusted with money, or scissors.”
 
Orr’s prose is devoted to common sense and clarity, and, in every case, he brings to bear an impeccable ear, an openhandedness of spirit, and a deep wealth of technical knowledge—to say nothing of his shrewd sense of humor. As pleasurable as it is informative, Orr’s journalism represents a high watermark in the public discussion of literature. You, Too, Could Write a Poem is at heart a love note to poetry itself.

The Road Not Taken and Other Poems

  • Published Date: Penguin Random House, 2015

By Robert Frost, edited by David Orr

9780143107392 8a75dA deluxe edition of Frost’s early poems, selected by poet David Orr for the centennial of “The Road Not Taken”

For one hundred years, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” has enchanted and challenged readers with its deceptively simple premise—a person reaches a fork in the road, facing a choice full of doubt and possibility. The Road Not Taken and Other Poems presents Frost’s best-loved poem along with other works from his brilliant early years, including such poems as “After Apple-Picking,” “The Oven Bird,” and “Mending Wall.” Award-winning poet and critic David Orr’s introduction discusses why Frost remains so central (if often misunderstood) in American culture and how the beautiful intricacy of his poetry keeps inviting generation after generation to search for meaning in his work.

For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong

  • Published Date: Penguin Random House, 2015

David Orr

9780143109570 5bee6A cultural “biography” of Robert Frost’s beloved poem, arguably the most popular piece of American literature
 
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . .” One hundred years after its first publication in August 1915, Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” is so ubiquitous that it’s easy to forget that it is, in fact, a poem. Yet poetry it is, and Frost’s immortal lines remain unbelievably popular. And yet in spite of this devotion, almost everyone gets the poem hopelessly wrong.
 
David Orr’s The Road Not Taken dives directly into the controversy, illuminating the poem’s enduring greatness while revealing its mystifying contradictions. Widely admired as the poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review, Orr is the perfect guide for lay readers and experts alike. Orr offers a lively look at the poem’s cultural influence, its artistic complexity, and its historical journey from the margins of the First World War all the way to its canonical place today as a true masterpiece of American literature.
 
“The Road Not Taken” seems straightforward: a nameless traveler is faced with a choice: two paths forward, with only one to walk. And everyone remembers the traveler taking “the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” But for a century readers and critics have fought bitterly over what the poem really says. Is it a paean to triumphant self-assertion, where an individual boldly chooses to live outside conformity? Or a biting commentary on human self-deception, where a person chooses between identical roads and yet later romanticizes the decision as life altering?
 
What Orr artfully reveals is that the poem speaks to both of these impulses, and all the possibilities that lie between them. The poem gives us a portrait of choice without making a decision itself. And in this, “The Road Not Taken” is distinctively American, for the United States is the country of choice in all its ambiguous splendor.
 
Published for the poem’s centennial—along with a new Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Frost’s poems, edited and introduced by Orr himself—The Road Not Taken is a treasure for all readers, a triumph of artistic exploration and cultural investigation that sings with its own unforgettably poetic voice.

Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry

  • Published Date: Harper Perennial, 2011

David Orr

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For most readers, contemporary poetry is a foreign country. And because they’ve barely visited poetry, let alone lived there, readers struggle to enjoy the art for what it is, rather than what they imagine it to be.

In Beautiful & Pointless, award-winning critic David Orr provides a riveting tour of poetry as it actually exists today. Orr argues that readers should accept the foreignness of poetry in the way that they accept the strangeness of any place to which they haven’t traveled—that they should expect a little confusion, at least at first. Yet in the same way that we can, over time, learn to appreciate the idiosyncratic delights of (for instance) Belgium, we can learn to be comfortable with the odd pleasures of poetry by taking our time and reading what we like.

Reading poetry, Orr suggests, is more a matter of building a relationship than proceeding systematically through a checklist. Beautiful & Pointless provides the foundation for such a relationship by discussing things poets and poetry readers talk about when they discuss poetry, such as why poetry seems especially personal, and what it means to write “in form.” Orr, by turns acerbic, incisive, hilarious and keen, is what every reader hopes for: that perfect guide who points the way, doesn’t talk too much, and helps you see what you might have missed. Beautiful & Pointless, ultimately, attempts to let us see how an individual reader reads poetry, so that we might feel better equipped to read it in our own way for ourselves.