Gregory Orr

Gregory Orr

Past Event: Wednesday, February 7, 2018

At McCaw Hall — Nesholm Family Lecture Hall

Poetry Icon


This series is sponsored by Charles & Barbara Wright

Considered by many to be the master of the short, personal lyric, Gregory Orr is the author of ten collections of poetry, and several volumes of prose, including Poetry as Survival. Widely anthologized, his poetry has been translated into at least 10 languages.

Critic Hank Lazer observes: “From Burning the Empty Nests to the present, Orr gradually developed the ability to fuse his incredible skill at visual precision—the signature of his image-based work in his very first book—with an insistent musical quality, joining visual precision with a beauty of sound.”

As a twelve-year-old boy, Orr accidentally killed his brother in a hunting incident, an event his family was never able to talk about. His mother died soon thereafter, and Orr found the transformative power of language through poetry. His later near-death experience as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the civil rights movement, in which he was jailed and severely beaten, contributed to the urgency with which his poems sought transformation.

Orr has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. He has also been a Fulbright Scholar and a Rockefeller Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Culture and Violence, and he received the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. City of Salt was a finalist for the LA Times Book Award for Poetry.

Orr received his B.A. from Antioch College and his MFA from Columbia University. He founded the MFA program at the University of Virginia in 1975, and was the poetry editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review from 1978 to 2003.

Selected Works:

Burning the Empty Nests (1973)
Gathering the Bones Together (1975)
The Red House (1980)
We Must Make a Kingdom of It (1986)
New and Selected Poems (1988)
City of Salt (1995)
Orpheus & Eurydice (2001)
The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems (2002)
Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved (2005)
How Beautiful the Beloved (2009)
River Inside the River (2013)

Poets Teaching Poets: Self and the World (1996)
Poetry as Survival (2002)

The Blessing (2002) 

Event Details

McCaw Hall — Nesholm Family Lecture Hall

321 Mercer St
Seattle, WA 98109

View directions.

This event will be held in the Nesholm Family Lecture Hall. The Lecture Hall is located in the lower level of Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at Seattle Center. The entrance to the hall is on the north side of the building and east of the main entrance; it directly faces Mercer St. and the door is under the bridge to the Mercer Street Garage.

Know Before You Go


Gregory Orr will read from and discuss his work. The event will be followed by a Q&A moderated by SAL Associate Director Rebecca Hoogs.



Open Books will have a selection of titles by Orr and this season’s poetry series speakers available for purchase at their table in the lobby.



There will be a book-signing in the lobby following this event.


Subscriber Notebooks

Are you a SAL subscriber? Don’t forget to pick up your complimentary 30th Anniversary notebook to use throughout the season for ideas, notes, quotes, and musings from SAL events and more. Pick up your notebook from the SAL info table in the lobby.


Pre-Event Reception from 6:30–7:15 in the lobby!

Don’t miss your chance to meet Gregory Orr at the pre-event reception, open for all to attend. Join us in the lobby for light bites and wine courtesy of our wine sponsor Woodinville Wine Country.


Don’t see your question answered here? Click here to visit our FAQ page.

Transportation & Parking

By Car

  • From I-5
    Take Mercer Street exit (exit 167) and go straight onto Mercer Street westbound. Turn right onto 4th Avenue. Turn left to park in the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage.
  • From Aurora/Hwy 99 Northbound
    Take the Western Avenue exit. Continue straight on Western Avenue. Turn right onto Battery Street. Turn left onto 1st Avenue. Turn right on Mercer Street. Continue down Mercer Street to drop off patrons directly in front of McCaw Hall, or turn left on 3rd or 4th Avenues to park in the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage.
  • From Aurora/Hwy 99 Southbound
    Exit right on Roy Street. Turn left on 3rd Avenue North. Turn left to park in the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage or proceed to the corner of 3rd Avenue and Mercer Street, turn left and proceed immediately to the far right lane to drop off patrons directly in front of McCaw Hall.

By Bus
Bus routes with Seattle Center stops include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 24, 33, and 82. For more information about the routes nearest you, call Metro’s 24-hour Rider Information hotline at (206) 553-3000 or visit Metro online.

Parking is available at the Mercer Street Garage, conveniently located across the street from McCaw Hall. A covered skybridge provides easy access between level C of the garage and McCaw Hall.

Other garages and parking options are:

  • Fisher Plaza Garage, located in the KOMO Plaza on 4th Avenue N, between Broad St and John St. The entrance is at 451 John St. The quickest way to get to McCaw Hall from here is to walk across the Seattle Center campus, starting from the Space Needle. SAL offers a $5 voucher for this garage. Vouchers may be picked up at SAL’s box office or info table.
  • 5th Avenue North Garage, located at the corner of 5th Avenue and Harrison Street. This is the first garage you will encounter after exiting I-5 and turning onto Harrison Street. It is a 3-block walk to McCaw Hall from this garage.
  • Surface lots are available on either side of Mercer Street between 3rd and 1st Avenues.
  • Southwest Seattle Center garages, for those willing and able to make the short walk across the Seattle Center campus, there are garages located on 1st Avenue North between Thomas and John Streets (south of KeyArena), at the corner of Warren Avenue North and Denny Way (adjacent to the church), and on 2nd Avenue North and Denny Way (adjacent to Pacific Science Center).


All of our venues have accessible seating and listening devices available. Click here for more information about accessibility and ADA services at McCaw Hall.

Please contact us at or 206.621.2230 x10 for more details and to let us know you’re coming so we can better accommodate your needs.