The Blessing

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When acclaimed poet Gregory Orr was twelve years old, he shot and killed his brother in a hunting accident. From the immediate aftermath—a period of shock, sadness, and isolation—it quickly became clear that support and guidance would not be coming from his distant mother. Nor would it come from his father, a philandering country doctor addicted to amphetamines. Left to his own devices, the boy suffered.

Guilt weighed on him throughout a childhood split between the rural Hudson Valley and jungles of Haiti. As a young man, his feelings and a growing sense of idealism prompted him to activism in the civil rights movement, where he marched and was imprisoned, and then scarred again by a terrifying abduction. Eventually, Orr’s experiences led him to understand that art, particularly poetry, could work as a powerful source of healing and meaning to combat the trauma he carried.

Throughout The Blessing , Orr articulates his journey in language as lyrical as it is authentic, gifting us all with a singular tale of survival, and of the transformation of suffering into art.