O'Rourke was formerly a fiction editor at The New Yorker and from 2005-2010 was poetry co-editor at The Paris Review. She is also an occasional contributor to The New York Times. O'Rourke has written on a wide and eclectic range of topics, including horse racing, gender bias in the literary world, the politics of marriage and divorce, and the place of grief and mourning in modern society. She has published poems in literary journals and magazines including The New Yorker, Best American Poetry, The New Republic, and Poetry.; Her first book of poems, Halflife, was published by Norton in 2007. O'Rourke's book, The Long Goodbye, a memoir of grief and mourning written after the death of her mother, was published to wide critical acclaim in April 2011. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. O'Rourke suffers from an autoimmune disorder which she has written about for The New Yorker. She is working on a book about chronic illness.