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David Orr

David Orr

David Orr writes about poetry for NPR Books. He is the author of Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetryand serves as the poetry columnist for The New York Times Book Review.

Orr's criticism has been honored with Poetry magazine's Editor's Prize for Reviewing and with the National Book Critics Circle's Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

  • Great poetry almost never leads to great paychecks. Even award-winning poets need to pay the bills. Many teach, but others are doctors, scientists, lawyers, undertakers or even market analysts. In celebration of National Poetry Month, writer David Orr takes a look at the secret lives of poets.
  • Love, death, marriage, divorce — poetry tends to focus on life's major moments. But that hasn't held true for birth and child rearing. Critic (and new dad) David Orr reflects on the reasons why, and on the women and men who are, at last, delivering the poetry of parenthood.
  • Some of the best poets of spring are masters of the minor key. So it's no surprise that the famously dour Philip Larkin wrote two of the finest spring poems of the last century, according to critic David Orr — who offers his appreciation.
  • The memorials for poet Adrienne Rich, who died Tuesday, include plenty of references to her political activism and eventful personal life. Amid this, Critic David Orr pauses to reflect on one poem — a testament to her perseverance and her art.
  • Valentine's Day is a tricky occasion for poets. Granted, it's hard not to be happy about a holiday on which poems are thought to be genuinely useful. But love poetry's record as an aphrodisiac is mixed. Critic David Orr offers advice for romantic rhymers.
  • The Polish poet, a Nobel Prize winner in 1996, died Wednesday in Krakow, Poland. Szymborska was an ironist who deployed whimsy and a light touch, even when exploring weighty themes. Critic David Orr praises her as a writer of "dry-eyed, athletic precision."
  • Critic David Orr surveys the "jumbled landscape" of American poetry to select his favorite collections of the year: five books that will alternately comfort and challenge you.