On Feb. 1, 2014, George Bilgere, of the John Carroll University English department, will release his newest volume of work entitled “Imperial,” a collection of poems about being middle-aged and middle-class in America. Published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, this will be his sixth published collection of poetry.
“[It is] an exploration of American culture in this crazy time,” Bilgere said. “There is no culture in the world that is as crazy, messed up, screwed up, bizarre, corrupt, insane and beautiful as America; and that’s why I live here. It’s a great place for a writer to live.”
Bilgere comes out with a new collection every three or four years and said that it is exciting to publish a new one.
“Each book tells about the person you were at the time you wrote it … what your preoccupations were. They are milestones,” Bilgere said.
Along with the excitement of each new book also comes nervousness, because he is never sure if it’s going to be the last one.
Bilgere came to JCU 20 years ago to “mold young minds.” When he started at JCU, the University was building its creative writing track and needed a poet in the department. Before he came to JCU, Bilgere taught at the University of Oklahoma and spent a year in northern Spain as a Fulbright Scholar.
When asked what his motivation was for coming to JCU, he said that he wanted to come to a small school where he could make an impact.
“If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have stayed,” Bilgere said. “The English department is great and supportive and the University supports their writers.”
Of all the classes he teaches, Bilgere says he likes his poetry workshops best. They’re his favorite classes to teach because they are small and intimate, usually capping off at 15 students.
“We’re all sitting around a big table like a big dysfunctional family arguing about poetry,” Bilgere said. “What could be better?”
He appreciates the small class size and the discussion-based learning that springs from the poetry workshops.
On Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. there is going to be a book launch for “Imperial” at Market Garden Brewery on West 25th Street. It is a part of a series called Brews and Prose, created by Dave Lucas, a JCU alumnus from the class of 2001.
Bilgere said the event is “easily the best series in town,” and that Lucas only has interesting people there. Bilgere jokingly suggested that the entire faculty and student body should come and everyone should buy a book.