cover image Selected Books of the Beloved

Selected Books of the Beloved

Gregory Orr. Copper Canyon, $17 trade paper (412p) ISBN 978-1-55659-653-7

Orr (The Last Love Poem I Will Ever Write) spent over a decade creating this sprawling celebration of the pain and pleasure of being alive and in love with the world. Broken into four sections and spanning multiple “Books,” this collection is a love letter to poetry, using Orr’s words to commit his “bravest deed --/ To wed the world.” Teeming with awe and sensation, these pieces leverage the “occult power of the alphabet” to plumb the depths of the heart, moving skillfully from lust to loss, aging to resurrection, keeping Sappho’s remark that “whatever one loves most is beautiful” in mind. In one magical section, Orr takes the reader to “a place where every poem/ Is a house, and every house a poem,” revealing scenes from Blake’s cottage, Baudelaire’s villa, and Orr’s renderings of the homes of Whitman, Li Bo, and Dickinson. From “word-ships” to “worship” and “wound” to “how/ the world gets in,” Orr plays with language as he expresses his love for his craft. This unbridled pleasure makes the pages of this hefty collection glow. (Aug.)