Poetry As Survival

“I must create a system, or be enslav’d by another man’s”
-William Blake, “Jerusalem”

What can I say about this book? It has been a life raft for me. I resonated with Orr’s sentiments from the very first page, and have unfolded in this book a beautiful articulation of what I have been experiencing lately in my relationship to art. Orr speaks with the authority of one who has observed himself keenly in the process of living and writing. He draws equally on research, insight, and experience to illuminate the transformative power of poetry. In the first half he lays out his theories, in the second he traces connections through Wordsworth, Keats, Whitman, Dickinson, and Wilfred Owen.

Where I was once scoffingly skeptical of the notion of “art therapy”, I now have a renewed understanding of the purpose and power of poetry. To the commenter on the Books, Inq. blog who hopes, “the simple stuff by humans does survive, and continues to reach people,” I can say that Orr illustrates a key facet of the power and importance of this “simple stuff by humans”–the power to heal not only the author but to communicate a more fully integrated experience of life to the reader as well. As long as we will be struggling with order and disorder, trauma and hope, we will continue to make meaningful art. Thanks to Sarah for nudging me toward this book. It is a gem.