Leonard Orr is originally from New York, studying English at SUNY-Binghamton and Ohio State University, receiving his doctorate in 1983. He taught in Arkansas and Indiana before moving in 1991 to Washington State University (he is a full professor in the English Department and Director of Liberal Arts Programs). He has written or edited many books of criticism including A Dictionary of Critical Theory, A Joseph Conrad Companion, Critical Essays on Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Problems and Poetics of the Nonaristotelian Novel and, most recently, Don DeLillo's White Noise: A Reader's Guide (Continuum, 2003). He has been active in recent years as a poet, giving readings, leading workshops, and serving as president of the Washington Poets Association. He has had poems published in such journals as Black Warrior Review, Poetry International, Poetry East, Rosebud, Crab Creek Review, Writing on the Edge, Pontoon, Tundra, and Rocky Mountain Review.
"In `Wind Farms' . . . Leonard Orr takes off on the venerable genre of the invitation poem, made famous by Andrew Marvell's `To His Coy Mistress,' to propose an airy sexual romp. What makes this poem fascinating is that the setting is not some mystical pastoral garden, but arid and rocky land made lush by a daredevil metaphorical stretch. . . . The resulting poem is briskly amusing, a carefully shaped and musically charged seltzer of words."
R. Vergil Ellis, Poetry Editor, Rosebud (2004).
From the book:
Let us run off faraway, to the west, to one of those
dry unloved ridges, beyond the army training area,
beyond the Indian reservation with its casinos, land
scorched or sagebrushed, where the winds tickle
the fat rocky toes of the foothills of the Cascades.
No one will look for us there; we can be wind farmers.
It will take hard work with such unpromising soil
but in a few years think of the pleasures of our land.
There will be the acres of chinooks and harmattans
blowing off hats, rocking trailers passing on the interstates.
Zephyrs and mistrals will hang like pupae from the mulberries,
when ripe cracking open to blow hotly at harvest time.
Our handcrafted simooms will snap across the tables
at the farmer's markets, trade winds we use for swapping
(we'll take boxes of Santa Anas and frilly fresh Föhn
for steamy sirocco or refreshing sea-breezes, tailwinds,
baby cyclones, though we refuse to take the doldrums).
At the county fair we judge kids' squalls and eat soufflés.
Boundary layer winds will ruffle your silky hair, while
my wind farmer's nose will sense shifts in the coriolis force.
My hands feel your pressure gradient from high to low,
our skin responds to the sun's supersonic winds. We'll toss off
pants and windsocks with the gusts and gales, each breeze.
Aeolian harps hum, while winded we breathe and sigh.
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