An Interview with Poet Gregory Orr

Gregory Orr

Gregory Orr’s life could have been spent mired in tragedy. He shot and killed his brother during a hunting accident when he was 12. His mother died two years later when his family was on a missionary assignment in Haiti. To escape a sense of despair and anguish, Orr became involved in his late teens with the Civil Rights Movement and traveled from upstate New York to Mississippi in 1965 to serve as a volunteer. He was quickly imprisoned for breaking various laws
set up to deter protestors, and was subsequently beaten by police officers.

The University of Virginia poet often recalls these events in his poetry, but it wasn’t until 2002 that Orr wrote about the experiences in prose. That was in a memoir called The Blessing. Sean Tubbs spoke with Orr in his office last month for a conversation about his career, the difference between poetry and prose, and about the time he spent in Mississippi forty years ago this summer.

Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass turns 150

This is the inside of the trailer

150 years ago this week, a journalist originally from Long Island published his first manuscript of poems, transforming himself as a writer of news and short fiction into one of America’s most important poets. Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is being celebrated this summer by the University of Virginia, which has several of the original manuscripts at the Harrison Institute’s Small Special Collections library. Many of these items are on display in the Institute’s first-floor gallery through mid-August.

This past spring, the Virginia Quarterly Review dedicated a special issue to Whitman’s work. VQR is collaborating with special collections on a series of gallery talks, given by editor Ted Genoways, to discuss the library’s holdings. Genoways is working on a dissertation on Whitman, and below is one of his talks, this one from June 28, 2005.

Whitman has famously declared that Leaves of Grass was published on July 4, 2005, but Ted Genoways explains that this isn’t necessarily the case.

This file is now offline, and was sadly lost to the great Wordcast Laptop crash of 2006…

UVA posts several Reunions Weekend events

Planning on a long trip anytime in the next couple of weeks? Why not fill your iPod with lectures from some of the University of Virginia’s top faculty? Browse through
their listing of available speeches. Larry Sabato takes a look in his political crystal ball, Timothy Naftali explains why its hard to catch terrorists, and Margaret Mohrman discusses spirituality and medicine. Other lectures currently posted are from environmental sciences professor H.H. Shugart, astronomer Ed Murphy, and politics professor David Waldner.

Over the past week, we here at CPN have been producing the audio for these lectures, which has meant we’ve not been able to produce any original programming. Look for some new features in the coming week.

Civil War author on UVa’s Podcasting site

As you might have noticed if you check the links on the right-hand side of the page, The University of Virginia has begun posting audio files on their podcast page. They’re featuring news conferences, presentations by top university officials and lectures from star faculty.

English professor Stephen Cushman recently addressed a gathering of UVa alumni as part of the College of Arts and Science’s Book Club to discuss Bloody Promenade: Reflections on a Civil War Battle. You can listen to it on the UVa podcast site here. In this talk, he laments the usage of the term “buff”, reads some of his Civil War poetry, and discusses how an English instructor teaches history.

Lecture on Nietzsche

Walter Sokel is Professor Emeritus of German and English at the University of Virginia. He came to the University from Stanford in 1972. Originally from Vienna, he migrated to the United States to escape fascism. On April 21, 2005, Sokel presented a paper entitled “The Birth of Eugenics and of Justice from the Spirit of Tragedy: Reflections on the Dionysian in Nietzsche.” The lecture was recorded in Jefferson Hall, and runs for just under an hour. Sokel will explain in the first minute or so how the title of the presentation had to be amended for time considerations.

This program is no longer available. If you would like to hear it, please send us an e-mail and we’ll be glad to make it available once more.

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Brown v. Board and the Civil Rights Movement

Fifty-one years ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the landmark Brown v. the Board of Education ruling, clearing the way for the eventual desegregation of the nation’s schools. But, the transition was far from easy, according to Michael Klarman, a professor of history at the University of Virginia and the author of From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality.” On May 9, Klarman spoke at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library on Market Street as part of UVa’s Engaging the Mind series.

Public Forum: Globalization and Inequality

We hear so much about globalization that it’s become just another word that many Americans tune out as soon as they hear it uttered.

Yet, many political scientists have serious concerns about how globalization affects the lives of Americans and people around the world. There’s a laundry list of developments that affect every human being including: the effects of an international economy on wealth for some and poverty for others, the threat of international terrorism, global pollution, to name just a few.

Four political scientists from across the country met in UVa’s Minor Hall on April 21, 2005, for a public forum called “Inequality and Difference in Developing Societies: How do Recent Trends Affect Americans?”

The panel includes Susanne Rudolph of the University of Chicago, Evelyne Huber of the University of North Carolina, and Valerie Bunce of Cornell University. This forum last 67 minutes, and is moderated by U-V-A political scientist John Echeverri-Gent.

Feature: An Introduction to Kathakali

Throughout American history, people from all around the world have flocked here in search of a better life, and to reinvent themselves. Some people assimilate into the melting pot, while others remain isolated, keeping to themselves. But America can only reach its full potential when new traditions are brought to our shores, to stand alongside those that go back centuries.

In the second in our series of reports on the South Asian Community in Central Virginia, Deepak Singh takes us to a recent Kathakali night sponsored by the UVa chapter of the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth. Kathakali has been a story-telling fixture in South India for over 500 years.

Engaging the Mind: Chris Holstege Lecture on Bioterror

How prepared is Virginia to deal with a possible biological or chemical attack from terrorists?

That’s just one of the questions that Doctor Chris Holstege spends his time trying to answer. Holstege is the director of medical toxicology at the University of Virginia, and an assistant professor of emergency medicine. He’s also the medical director of the Blue Ridge Poison Center.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, health and public safety departments across the country have struggled to come up with a response plan for what to do, and what NOT to do, in the event of a bioterror incident.

Holstege spoke at Woodberry Forest School in Orange on April 14th, 2005, as part of UVa’s Engaging the Mind series. This forty-minute lecture gives an overview of some of the possible biological and chemical agents that have been used as weapons in the past, as well as a basic rundown on what officials have learned from previous biological attacks.