Gregory Orr, the author of more than ten collections of poetry and several volumes of essays, criticism, and memoir, is a master of brevity and the personal lyric. Critic Hank Lazer observes: “From Burning the Empty Nests to the present, Orr gradually developed the ability to fuse his incredible skill at visual precision—the signature of his image-based work in his very first book—with an insistent musical quality, joining visual precision with a beauty of sound.”
As a twelve-year-old boy, Orr accidentally killed his brother in a hunting incident, an event his family was never able to talk about. His mother died soon thereafter, and Orr found the transformative power of language through poetry. His later near-death experience as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the civil rights movement, in which he was jailed and severely beaten, contributed to the urgency with which his poems sought transformation.
Orr has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. He has also been a Fulbright Scholar and a Rockefeller Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Culture and Violence, and he received the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. City of Salt was a finalist for the LA Times Book Award for Poetry.