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Greg Orr on the Making of Poems

PUBLISHED: February 20, 2006

Greg Orr, professor of Creative Writing at UVa, read on orginal essay, “On the Making of Poems” this afternoon on “This I Believe,” a regular segment on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” The “This I Believe” project invites Americans from all walks of life to share brief essays describing the core values and beliefs that guide their lives. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.

When I write a poem, I process experience. I take what’s inside me—the raw, chaotic material of feeling or memory—and translate it into words and then shape those words into the rhythmical language we call a poem. This process brings me a kind of wild joy. Before I was powerless and passive in the face of my confusion, but now I am active: the powerful shaper of my experience. I am transforming it into a lucid meaning.

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