Verlena Orr, twice nominated for a Pushcart, hails from north-central Idaho, one mountain west of Missoula, Montana. She was raised on a ranch and attended elementary and high school at Kamiah, Idaho, on the Nezperce reservation, and settled in Portland, Oregon in 1963, and lives in northwest Portland where she's lived since 1980.
Her assorted jobs have included secretary, social worker, grain truck driver, hired girl during harvest and more recently, instructor with Portland Community College in developmental education, creative writing and poetry. She also worked with the Portland Public School's Talented & Gifted Program. Most recently, she produced a documentary, Sky Settles Everything, about her only paternal cousin, Wayne James, documenting the workings of a family-sized ranch that Wayne has done his entire life, a way of life that is fast disappearing.
Verlena's poems have been published in journals throughout the country and in the United Kingdom. She has published three chapbooks: I Dance September Naked in a Dream (Howlet Press, 1989), Woman Who Hears Voices (Future Tense Press, 1998), One More Time From the Beginning (Stone City Press, 2007). Her two full-length collections include: Break in the Cloud Cover (Howlet Press, 2005) and Taking it to the Limit (Dancing Moon Press, 2009). She holds an MFA from the University of Montana.
Letter to Phillip Levine from Idaho
Sixty-Nine & Pushing On