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Issue Date: July 2009


Seen and Heard


Jim Vickers
vickers@clevelandmagazine.com
He could make your boring evening commute read like an odyssey. Actually, he did. Five years ago, when we asked poet and John Carroll University associate professor of English George Bilgere to pen an ode to the great connector that is Interstate 480, we didn’t think he’d accept our odd assignment. But he did, happily, and the resulting 80-line poem made our use of the language look unwieldy next to his laser-precise word economy. Last month, he received the Pushcart Prize — a prestigious literary award honoring writers published in the small presses during the previous year — in recognition of “Graduates of Western Military Academy,” a poem based on his father’s friendship with Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbets, which begins, “One day, as this friend of my father, Paul / was flying over Asia / he vaporized a major Japanese city.” Yeah, we were hooked from that point, too. Read it and Bilgere’s 2004 poem about I-480 at clevelandmagazine.com/bilgere.

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