Saturday, January 15, 2000

Verlena Orr

Why would a lawyer's wife work as a social worker in an inner city? Why would she stay married for nineteen years and do dinner parties on demand, but then walk away leaving behind affluence and comfort? Why is the ex-wife of a Court of Appeals judge spending her life writing poetry? Of what benefit is knowing how to ride horses, to shoot and to square dance? The answers to these and other questions will be found in the work of Verlena Orr.

Verlena is the author of two chapbooks, I Dance September Naked in a Dream (1988) and Woman Who Hears Voices (1998). Her poems appeared in a number of national literary journals, in Graining The Mare: An Anthology of Ranch Women Poems, and From Here We Speak, an anthology of Oregon authors. She received a BA from Albertson College in Idaho in 1961, a BA from Portland State, and an MFA from the University of Montana in 1984.

She has worked as a hired girl on a farm, as a secretary, social worker, landlord, and teacher for Portland Public School Talented and Gifted Program, Poetry in the Schools, and at Portland Community College.

An orphaned adult and Idaho farm and pasture owner, she prefers dancing in sleazy bars to gardening and reading, and spends most of her time smoking and writing poems. She cooks one day per year — Idaho-style fried chicken for Ann and Rick’s annual garden party potluck.

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