David Orr

David Orr writes about poetry for NPR Books. He is the author of Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry and serves as the poetry columnist for The New York Times Book Review.

Orr's criticism has been honored with Poetry magazine's Editor's Prize for Reviewing and with the National Book Critics Circle's Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

"No man but a blockhead," Samuel Johnson famously observed, "ever wrote, except for money." This is tough news for poets, since the writing they do is often less immediately profitable than a second-grader's math homework (the kid gets a cookie or a hug; the poet gets a rejection letter from The Kenyon Review). Poetry itself is tremendously valuable, of course, but that value is often realized many years after a poem's composition, and sometimes long after the end of its author's life.

Birth, most people would agree, is a fairly important event. And poetry, most people would agree, tends to focus on subjects of intense emotional significance. So one would think the poetry of early parenthood would be a rich and varied category, filled with reflections on physical transformation, the emergence of life, the realities of infanthood and so forth.

One would be wrong.