Sidney Lanier Poetry

2019 Poetry Festival Events


Lanier Library is pleased to announce that internationally celebrated and award winning poet George Bilgere will be reading from his latest work at the library on Saturday, April 27, 4 – 6 pm.  The program, which is in honor of National Poetry Month, includes a reception and book signing. Mr. Bilgere will be teaching a workshop for working poets earlier in the day.


George Bilgere has published six collections of poetry, including Imperial (2014); The White Museum (2010), which was awarded the Autumn House Poetry Prize; Haywire (2006), which won the May Swenson Poetry Award; and The Good Kiss (2002), which was selected by Billy Collins to win the University of Akron Poetry Award. He has won numerous awards, including the Midland Authors Award and a Pushcart Prize. Bilgere has received grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulbright Commission, and the Ohio Arts Council.


Bilgere’s poetry, while residing firmly in the everyday world of janitors, college students or siblings, is noted for its controlled poignancy and limpid free-verse line. Billy Collins has described him as “a welcome breath of fresh American air.” His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Ploughshares, the Kenyon Review, Fulcrum, and the Best American Poetry series.  His poems have been featured on Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” and Ted Kooser’s newspaper project “American Life in Poetry.” He has also been a guest on Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”


Bilgere also hosts his own weekly radio show, WORDPLAY, an offbeat mix of poetry, comedy, and an ongoing exploration of the possibilities of the spoken word.  He teaches literature at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. His poems have been called “kind, big-hearted, full of love,” and “dangerously clever.”



At the Vietnam Memorial



The last time I saw Paul Castle

it was printed in gold on the wall

above the showers in the boys’

locker room, next to the school

record for the mile. I don’t recall

his time, but the year was 1968

and I can look across the infield

of memory to see him on the track,

legs flashing, body bending slightly

beyond the pack of runners at his back.


He couldn’t spare a word for me,

two years younger, junior varsity,

and hardly worth the waste of breath.

He owned the hallways, a cool blonde

at his side, and aimed his interests

further down the line than we could guess.


Now, reading the name again,

I see us standing in the showers,

naked kids beneath his larger,

comprehensive force—the ones who trail

obscurely, in the wake of the swift,

like my shadow on this gleaming wall.