by Gregory Orr

To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That’s crudely put, but…
If we’re not supposed to dance,
Why all this music? 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gregory Orr is a professor of English at the University of Virginia, where he founded the MFA Program in Writing in 1975, and served from 1978 to 2003 as Poetry Editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. He is also a columnist and editor of the magazine, Sacred Bearings: A Journal for Survivors. Featured onNational Public Radio’s “This I Believe,” Orr has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Photo: “Dancing with Myself” by Surya, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“To Be Alive” is found in Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved, available at