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The Blessing: A Memoir
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The Blessing: A Memoir

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  137 ratings  ·  32 reviews
"The inadvertent shooting death of his brother by poet Orr gives this memoir a god-awful specific gravity and spurs the author's search for ways to live on…Here, the old and new meanings of 'blessing' - to sprinkle with blood, to confer spiritual power - harrowingly collide." - Kirkus Review
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by Council Oak Books (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Jenni Simmons
I once read that memoirs are testimonies of survival, or something to that effect. If the author can live through that, we can survive our sufferings, too. And so, I can't help but think of my favorite memoirs as gifts, as blessings.

At Glen Workshop East in South Hadley, MA, this summer, I perused the delicious tables of books set up by Warren Farha of Eighth Day Books. I asked what he recommended and he named this book. "Gregory Orr is a beautiful man," he said. "His memoir is excellent, and i
Nov 19, 2014 Alan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Poets, Memoir readers looking for non-traditional structure
In THE BLESSING, Gregory Orr's younger self struggles with guilt caused by the accidental death of his brother. But this alone frames the story too simply. Orr reveals a life transformed by internal monologue and mythology, with the intent of evaluating his position in the universe. Orr is most well known for his poetry and this memoir reads with a deliberate eye on pacing and structural efficiency. Reading THE BLESSING from a poet's perspective, I found Orr's insights into the functions of poet ...more
Heartrending. Orr is a poet: the writing in his memoir is beautiful. He artfully weaves references to mythology which lends to his story an epic quality--Orr and his father each taking turns at being the tragic hero. I loved the beginning for its language and the characterization of his parents. I thought the pacing was strange in the section about his teenage/college years--maybe this was deliberate: a sort of metaphor for those years (?).

I wish that he would have spent more time reflecting on
Patricia Murphy
I had the privilege of working with Greg at a writer's conference, and his careful kindness comes through in life as it does in his writing. I especially appreciate how he is able to reflect on how the accident affected all aspects of his life--how he carries it with him in his daily life. Most of us live with a moment like that in our pockets. Greg describes it in a careful, insightful way.
the first third or half or so of this book powerfully and effectively uses memoir to establish gregory orr as a person for whom meaning is essential. his personal history is fascinating, and i would love to have him as a dinner guest, but the second third or third quarter or whatever kind of meanders. his family's voyage in haiti and his work with the sncc are essential components to his development as a writer, but we are given the slideshow presentation. it feels truncated and disjointed. the ...more
First of all, I must get my hormones out of the way before I can say anything intelligent: Doesn't this young picture of Gregory Orr remind you of Orlando Bloom??? ~Or-lando Blooooom~just the name makes me light-headed.

Alas, I feel intelligent again.

The Blessing is a phenomenal memoir about Orr's childhood (Orr shot his brother to death during a hunting accident when he was 12), his adolescence (partly spent in Haiti where his mother suddenly died), and his early adulthood (when he was imprisone
Gregory Orr writes a memoir that begins with his accidental shooting of his brother (and his brother's death). It explores the rest of his life from there--that crucial event--and how his family continued to spiral down hill after his brother's loss. But it also points up the ways that a tragic event can figure into a life, led him to the Civil Rights movement (briefly) and to his love of poetry (his on-going work). It's beautifully written, and the fragmentation of some of the earlier events re ...more
I just finished reading this after meeting Gregory Orr for the first time at the Palm Beach Poetry festival this past January. It's a hard juxtaposition because I saw him as pretty genial, a great dancer when the music started with his wife, and this book is really about the darker pivotal moments in his life.

Aside from his brother's death the more bleak/haunting descriptions are about his civil rights movement experiences. Further away from the 1960s we forget the chances people took in protest
Marie White
Gregory Orr has written a courageous and stunning memoir about growing up with a shadow so deep and wide that I stand back in awe at his mere survival. Yet Professor Orr has thrived. He brings much needed perspective to the discussion of guns and children and American culture. While there is so much railing and hollering, the onus is inevitably belongs in family homes. This is epicenter center of the debate that remains unspoken.
Wow. I loved this book. This is one of the best books I’ve read in years. This book is a memoir by a poet. His life is certainly dramatic enough. As a child, he accidentally shoots and kills his younger brother while out hunting with the family. For awhile his family lives in Haiti (his father is a physician who decides to work there) - while there Orr’s mother has surgery and dies. Later as a college student he participates in the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi - the summer after the Free ...more
Kristen Hoggatt
He's a poet, meaning that he's consistently concise and descriptive, but on many occasions I wanted him to be more... long-winded (?), I guess. Orr doesn't have the benefit of line breaks in this piece, and as a poet/memoirist myself, I felt that he didn't compensate. But I admit that maybe this is a problem I am quite attuned to in my own writing, so others may not have a problem. I very much enjoyed it, and I appreciated the organization: beginning with a description of the tragedy (the writin ...more
I seldom read memoirs. I, however, am glad that, for some reason, I decided to read this one.

The poet, Gregory Orr, when a young child, killed his brother in a hunting accident. Living in an emotionally repressed family, Orr had no opportunity to release himself from the horror and shame of the killing. This memoir, then explores a man's search for meaning and light in a place of meaninglessness and darkness.

At times the book was so raw that I felt I was inside the author's heart. Even so, I co
Local poet/professor. The story of his early family turmoil and experience as a Civil Rights demonstrator in the South.
This is an autobiographical account of the poet Gregory Orr's life especially focusing on the definitive experience in his life, and that was the firearm accident in which he (at the age of 12) accidently shot and killed his 8-year-old brother, Peter. It's a heart-rending story, but ultimately triumphant in that Orr finds poetry which saved his life by lifting him out of the depressed, and self-accusing state he was in for years after this brother's death. Also revealing in this book is the fami ...more
Very poetic and thought provoking.
stephanie cassidy
Feb 08, 2013 stephanie cassidy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to stephanie by: me
Do we, ultimately, have to give ourselves permission to survive traumatic events, even if, or especially if, we inadvertently (or purposely) caused them? And then, once we arrive at the doorstep of that question, do we have to knock before being asked to enter, or do we burst right in, or do we, because maybe the door's ajar, let it creak and creak as we look past the jamb?

This is a brilliant, honest, crushing, intimate series of stories, folded origami cranes. I will probably not stop thinking
The book began strong, memorably. I re-read the first several chapters for their spare but distinct wording and imagery. But the book failed to deliver on the blessing of Orr's suffering through childhood and adolescence at the hands of his distant mother and irresponsible father. I ended the book with more questions than answers about his later life, his siblings, what The Blessing was for him, and - I hope - them. I suspect these questions are answered in his poems, but I haven't read any to k ...more
Mr. Orr is a beautiful writer. I would give this 3.5. While I enjoyed this memoir, I wanted some more depth in some of his tales and I wanted to know more about how these (oh so) tragic events of his childhood shaped him as an adult. And his siblings barely get mentioned (although, I suppose it is tricky writing about living people...and being respectful about whose story one tells). And had a hard time with some of the religious references.
Vincent Scarpa
Though there is a section of the book, about 3/4 of the way through, that I thought went way off the beaten path, the first half is incredible and the final chapter is a wonderful way to end. Orr searches for mercy and forgiveness, and realizes by the story's end that it had existed in art all along. Orr's language is ripe with pure poetry.
Orr experienced a traumatic event as a child: during a hunting trip he mistakenly fired his gun, and his brother was hit in the face and killed by the bullet. This event haunts his intense, simple poems, and this (his memoir) is a beautiful exploration of the place from which our creative impulses originate.
Beautiful prose from a poet whose literary style brings grace and redemption to what would otherwise be only a tragic tale. Orr's humanity, honesty, and heart are lovely to behold, and his personal experiences on the Civil Rights movement are quite compelling.
Imey Juliant
good true story,
berisikan kekuatan dan cinta kasih yang tak terpatahkan,
bagaimana menemukan kembali jiwa yang hampir hilang dan memandang semua kejadian adalah anugrah dari Tuhan.
Betsy Kalman
Greg Orr is a testimony to the resiliency of the human soul. I wish I could use this memoir as a text for my English 100 students.
One of my absolute favorites. Reading this takes courage, and Gregory Orr had so much to write it and live it.
Gary McDowell
Incredible. The last two chapters almost had me in tears. Beautifully written, beautifully realized.
Beautifully written. Orr manages to render a tragic accident with grace and self-awareness.
Deeply affecting memoir that made me rethink the whole concept of "blessings" in my life.
Berliana Pasaribu
Bagus dan menakjubkan apalagi pas waktu mengelilingi amerika bagian utara dan selatan.
Louise Chambers
I couldn't put this down. Read it in an afternoon. Highly recommend it.
May 23, 2007 Joe rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2007
The first few chapters of this book are the most poetic prose I've ever read.
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Gregory Orr was born in Albany, New York in 1947, and grew up in the rural Hudson Valley. He received a BA degree from Antioch College in 1969 and an MFA from Columbia University in 1972.

He is the author of more than ten collections of poetry, including River Inside the River: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2013); How Beautiful the Beloved (Copper Canyon Press, 2009); Concerning the Book that is the Body of
More about Gregory Orr...
Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved Poetry as Survival The Caged Owl: New & Selected Poems Orpheus & Eurydice: A Lyric Sequence How Beautiful the Beloved

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