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February 2014
72 pages  

6 x 9
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Bilgere, George
Imperial is a collection of poems, both serious and hilarious, ranging in subject matter from marriage, divorce, popular culture, to the pitfalls, perils, and predicaments of middle-aged, middle-class, mid-American suburban life.

Listen to Garrison Keillor read “Yard Sale” on The Writer’s Almanac

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George Bilgere is the author of five previous poetry collections, most recently The White Museum, which was chosen by Alicia Suskin Ostriker for the Autumn House Poetry Series. His third book, The Good Kiss, was selected by Billy Collins to win the University of Akron Poetry Award. He has won numerous other awards, including the Midland Authors Award, the May Swenson Poetry Award, and a Pushcart Prize. Bilgere is the recipient of grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulbright Commission, and the Ohio Arts Council. His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Ploughshares, the Kenyon Review, Fulcrum, and the Best American Poetry series.
“Concerned with life’s smallest and largest questions, Imperial scans the past for clues of how best to navigate the future. Tracing the arc of the Baby Boomer generation from cradle to grave, Bilgere’s poems paint a picture of American life that is equal parts sadness, matter-of-fact-ness, and hilarity. Their ability to incorporate humor is both surprising and fresh—especially as they tackle subjects such as aging, suburban routine, and the rise and subsequent fall of post-WWII America.”—Dorianne Laux

“Cheeky nephew of Billy Collins, brash blunt brother of Tony Hoagland, George Bilgere writes the poetry of frontal candor about desire, nostalgia, and sweet sad vanity. He’s not just easy but defiantly easy to read. The rest of us professor poet guys maybe better give up writing funny-ruefully about our typical lucky lives, because Bilgere has the territory so well covered.”—Mark Halliday

“In Imperial, George Bilgere gives us the ‘shared mystery / of being human / on this dark little planet,’ with the perfect pacing and wicked aplomb of a comic raconteur. His wry observations of people—at home, in the neighborhood, at the university—purr with buttered irony. And then we feel the claws below the charm, and deeper beneath that, a sadness that won’t be laughed away.”—Elton Glaser

"His lines possess the easy, colloquial rhythm of prose and imagist glint of good poetry. . . .In his best poems, such as 'Desire' and ‘Ttraverse City', one tumbles through the lines to an ending that is surprising, funny or breath-stopping, sometimes all at once."--Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Bilgere's 'Imperial' gives me a rare pleasure; poems as open as windows. Filled with humor, love, and pain these poems are learned but not ostentatiously so. Think Garrison Keillor and Ted Kooser, both of whom have showcased many of Bilgere's poems, and you will recognize the key of this poet's clear, sincere, friendly yet serious voice. . . . Even as they engage moments that sometimes sting, Bilgere's poems convey respect for human vulnerability and, above all, a sense of love. Even the poems about loss give us page after page of radiant moments."—Ghost Town LIterary Magazine

Complete Description Reviews
Pitt Poetry Series Table of Contents
Poetry Read a selection from this book

In Imperial, George Bilgere’s sixth collection of poetry, he continues his exploration of the beauties, mysteries, and absurdities of being middle-aged and middle-class in mid-America. In poems that range from the Cold War anxieties of the 1950s to the perils and predicaments of an aging Boomer in a post-9/11 world, Bilgere’s rueful humor and slippery syntax become a trapdoor that at any moment can plunge the reader into the abyss. In Bilgere’s world a yo-yo morphs into an emblem for the atomic bomb. A spot of cancer flames into the Vietnam War. And the death of a baseball player reminds us, in this age of disbelief, of the importance—the necessity—of myth.


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