Born: July 4, 1951
Ohio connection: Resident
Born July 4, 1951, poet and educator George Bilgere grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and Riverside, California. He received a B. A. from the University of California, Riverside, and an M.A. in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, before earning a Ph.D. in contemporary British and American poetry at the University of Denver in 1988. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Riverside, Bilgere realized (thanks to an inspiring teacher) that poetry did not have to sound like Keats but could be written in contemporary English. Bilgere’s poems have been called “kind, big-hearted and full of love for the precarious human condition”; his poems appear in Ted Kooser’s newspaper project “American Life in Poetry,” and are frequently read on National Public Radio’s “The Writer’s Almanac,” hosted by Garrison Keillor. Biligere, himself, has been a featured guest on Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”
In 2002, Bilgere won the University of Akron Poetry Award for The Good Kiss (University of Akron Press, 2002). This, his third published collection, was chosen by then U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins for the award. Collins wrote, “In the house of contemporary poetry, ‘The Good Kiss’ is a welcome breath of fresh American air.” Bilgere’s other poetry collections are: The Going: Poems (University of Missouri Press, 1994); Big Bang (Copper Beach Press, 1999); Haywire (Utah State University Press, 2006); The White Museum (Autumn House Press, 2010); Imperial (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014). His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Ploughshares, AGNI Magazine, The Iowa Review, The Sewanee Review, The Kenyon Review, Fulcrum, Chicago Review, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Best American Poetryseries.
George Bilgere lives in Cleveland, where he teaches Creative Writing at John Carroll University
Bilgere has won numerous awards including, the Society of Midland Authors’ book award for The Going: Poems (1995); the Cleveland Arts Prize (2003); the Ohioana Helen and Laura Krout Memorial Poetry Award (2006); the Pushcart Prize (2009). In 2010 The White Museum was chosen for the Autumn House Poetry Series. Other honors include a Witter Bynner Fellowship in 2002 through the Library of Congress and, in 1991, he was a Fulbright scholar in Bilbao, Spain. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. In 2014 Bilgere was awarded a $20,000 Creative Workforce Fellowship from Cleveland’s Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.