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Someone on Your List Needs to Travel to the City of Poetry

October 19, 2012 by Reader's Connection

The City of Poetry

You’ve probably visited the city. Gregory Orr’s chapbook The City of Poetry is a book-length poem, or collection of poems, that serves as a travel guide.

Some poems are about the city in general, its architecture and the river that runs through it, while others focus on specific poets. The guide is on my gift suggestion listSomeone you know may want to make the trip.

The City of Poetry (2012) is published by Sarabande Books. These two poems are used by permission of the author.


If someone had said, when I was young,
That poems made life bearable,
I wouldn’t have believed them.

My world had closed in
On all sides.
I could hardly breathe.

If someone had told me then
I would feel free . . .

A place where every poem
Is a house, and every house, a poem.

When I first came here
Fifty years ago–the moment
I arrived, I knew this city was my home.

* * *

Consider Francois Villon–
Murderer and thief
If half the rumors are true.
How did he come to live here
As if he were respectable?

My guess is that he wrote
“Ou sont les neiges denten”–
“Where are the snows
Of yesteryear”–a refrain
That followed a list
Of famous beauties he once knew.

I don’t claim he was the first
To lament that bodily beauty
Vanishes like melted snow,
But when you think of the city,
Remember Villon


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