Customer Reviews: Imperial (Pitt Poetry Series)
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on February 3, 2014
I’ve previously written rave reviews for Haywire and The White Museum because I love George Bilgere’s poetry. How can you not? He has practically become the resident poet on The Writer’s Almanac for that very reason. Bilgere writes of his life, but also of yours and mine. He touches us, stirs up our memories, and makes us laugh. In Imperial, he chronicles the culture, fears, and concerns
of the Baby Boomers – from yo-yos, Stan Musial, and iPads to skin cancer, prostate exams, and fears of aging. Bilgere is always a good read.
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on January 29, 2014
George does it again, hooks the reader with humor and then twists the momentum like a magician doing sleight of hand, and you end up far from where you thought you were going. I've seen him do this with audiences, who never seem to get enough. Take the plunge and be amazed.
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on March 3, 2015
I first encountered Bilgere's work when I chanced across a copy of "Haywire" a while back. I'm a pretty tough critic but I remember being blown away by Bilgere's style, and this book resonates with that same generous blend of humor, craft, and tenderness. If you like Billy Collins or Tony Hoagland, you'll love George Bilgere. If you DON'T like them... well, you'll probably still like George Bilgere.
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on September 18, 2015
entertaining and thought-provoking words from an established poet.
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on April 5, 2014
I am 65 years old and have alwYs enjoyed poetry. Mr. Bilgiere writes like he has stolen thoughts from inside my head. If you enjoy theatre and subject matter of Billy Collins, you will love George Bilgere!
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on February 21, 2014
Many of my favorite poems have been authored by George Bilgere. What is white, middle-aged, male America about? How about frustrated, anxious, angry, sex-on-the brain, past and present, bill-paying- it's a long list with superb reporting from the field by Bilgere. His poetry's also extremely funny. That's probably because he's very funny. I've been in one of his writing workshops. It's a treat-and-a-half.
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on April 10, 2015
Reading Imperial was an easy, humorous, and enlightening experience for me. The poems do not require much of readers in terms of comprehension, but invite them to ponder the author’s experiences and to make similar observations in their own lives. Many of the images George Bilgere crafts will remain with me as I age, or think about aging, and helped me realize my capacity to make important self-discoveries by way of the people and situations around me. This collection of poetry uses small American moments including community events, meals, conversations, or even just observations of strangers in public places to draw on the nature of being alive, growing up, and accepting things as they are, with the ulterior motive of making the most of things. The poems reveal themes that encompass and define the life of the author, a middle-aged divorcee with a sarcastic yearning for greatness and/or immortality. And aren’t we all that, at some point, given the time of day? Entwined in almost all of his poetry is a reaching for fulfillment, and the simultaneous achievement and falling-short of it. His poetry explores growing old, still feeling young, longing for youth, pain from desire, and healing. He allows the reader to, if not understand, taste his relationships with spouses, parents, and strangers he observes. Although his poetry is comedic and carries an enjoyable sarcasm that seems to call humanity out on its foolishness, his principal victim is himself. In choosing this lens, his poetry inspires readers to reflect on their flaws, and maybe even forgive themselves for them, which ultimately facilitates the forgiveness of others.
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on April 3, 2015
George Bilgere is truly the everyman’s poet. Reading with a level of accessibility akin to Billy Collins, he is the master of the middle: middle class, mid life, Middle America, or just simply the middle. He paints in the medium of simplicity, showing us images of the middle class American’s struggles, questions, and “…affection / for this shared mystery / of being human.” Whether writing about a yard sale, Greek mythology, or Stan the Man he successfully “shocks us from our daydream drabness / with heaven’s dazzle and razzmatazz.” The poems in Imperial specifically deal with the struggles, as he once said, of “moving out of glorious youth,” as well as living in middle class America. In one line at the end of “Basal Cell” Bilgere moves us from youth to age in a profound way. He writes, “and the doctor begins to burn / those summers away.” In a single image we feel the nostalgia of youth, the pain of age, the lingering canceritic mistakes of youth, and the hope for a future without any scars.

Bilgere manages to not only invite us into these beautiful, sometimes tragic, middles, but to push us outward into a place beyond. His endings have a knack for twisting where we thought we were going, and leaving us in a most satisfying place, a place we didn’t realize we needed till he got us there. Just like the ending of “As Requested” George Bilgere’s collection Imperial pushes us out of “the dark river” and “out to the sea.”

It is in this combination of simplicity, and leaving us in surprisingly deep waters that Bilgere becomes worth reading, and rereading, and rereading.
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on March 31, 2015
What stands out in Bilgere’s poetry is the realness of it. He is not a poet of ephemeral epithets or ambiguous analogies that go spinning off the ear and leave an unsettled aftertaste in the listener’s mind. His poems don’t reveal troubled glimpses of an undefined soul, but moments of a real life, truly lived.

At once humorous and serious, insincere and deeply poignant, Bilgere’s stiches together familiar experiences—yard sales, card games, summer nights, Walmarts, and Macbooks—into patterns that are new and refreshing, and cause the reader to look anew at something mundane which has been made fresh by the poet’s perspective. Dryer lint offers proof of marital love. Pork chops are emblems of forgiveness. Garden hoses wash away the present to reveal the past. Bilgere’s power as a poet is his ability to see the potential of the extraordinary within the dregs of a very ordinary life. His touch on language and life is light, not meant to sweep the cobwebs away, but to make us aware of the cobwebs and what we can learn from them if we took a moment to contemplate and connect them to our larger experiences.

Imperial is well worth a read. The poems are not demanding, but invite the reader to return to them both in moments of humor and reflection. In Bilgere’s poems, readers will find open honesty and a down-to-earth introspection that stands out from many other contemporary poets. Readers with thinking minds and thoughtful hearts are sure to delight in the snippets of life Bilgere offers up in his writing.
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on March 30, 2015
I need to be upfront: Poetry is one of my least favorite forms of artistic expression. In my experience, poetry (and the poets that write them) has it's own lingo, carries an air of self-importance, and can be cruel to those outside of its own circles. That was all before I had read George Bilgere.
Mr. Bilgere's poetry refuses to be read and critiqued in the same way that students pick apart Wordsworth and Whitman. His poetry deals with the everyday struggles of a man with graying hair who may be on the verge of going senile. Each poem invites us to explore the human condition as it is presented: There is no romanticism, no flowery prose to fluff his thoughts, just the world as seen and experienced through the eyes of a sardonic baby boomer.
I had the pleasure of attending a reading of Mr. Bilgere recently, where he showcased his quick wit and gave the audience a more in-depth look into the inspiration behind his work. As he read (and as I later read this book), I was struck with how his poems hit me with such immediacy: I was howling with laughter as I thought of how succinctly he had highlighted many of the unusual phenomena we see every day. Bilgere prefers not to touch on the intangible, but rather, invite discussion and provoke thought on the things that we see all around us.

Five stars.
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