Poems Offer Slices of Life #FridayFunReads #BookReviews #Inspiration

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Haywire: Poems (Swenson Poetry Award)

by George Bilgere

Copyright 2006.

 

What Amazon Says

 

Tenth annual winner of the May Swenson Poetry Award, Haywire is a well-polished collection from a highly accomplished poet. With humor, compassion, and an unflinching eye, Bilgere explores the human condition in accessible lines and a magician’s way with language. In images bright and dark, tangible and immanent, Bilgere brings us time after time to the inner reaches of a contemporary life. In subjects ranging from adolescent agony to the loss of parents to the comic pain of middle age, he finds no reason to turn away his gaze, and ultimately no reason not to define himself in joy.

Haywire was chosen for the Swenson Award by poet Edward Field, winner of numerous awards and a personal friend of the late May Swenson. Field describes the book this way. “This poet, you knew from his very first lines, didn’t fall for anything phony—his own language is irresistibly no-bullshit down to earth, even sassy.”

 

My Thoughts

 

George Bilgere’s style is similar to that of Billy Collins, who is one of my favorite poets. Like Collins, Bilgere writes realistic, slice-of-life pieces.

“Simili Practice,” in which he shares experiences teaching English as a second language, reminded me of the times my mother, a college English teacher, also taught that subject. Being someone who appreciates opera, I could relate to “Aria” and “Tosca,” showcasing Bilgere’s father’s love of this type of music, which seemed to trump everything else at times. My favorite is “The Table,” in which he shares other family memories.

Some of the poems, in my opinion, are too graphic. Let’s take, for example, “What Would Jesus Do,” in which Bilgere reflects on what would happen if Christ died in the electric chair instead of on the cross. I found others offensive because of the way he appears to stereotype certain ethnic groups. Otherwise, I enjoyed reading this collection. Some of the poems gave me a laugh from time to time. I recommend it and other poetry collections by Bilgere to anyone who likes poetry that is straightforward and easy to follow.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

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Meeting My Inspiration Again


One sunny afternoon last week, I was resting in my recliner, listening to the drone of lawnmowers and whine of weeedwhackers as my landscapers did their weekly business in my yard. Suddenly, I heard a crash. This time, it wasn’t my garage door being smashed by a truck belonging to a patron of the day care center next door. It was a lawnmower colliding with a car in my neighbor’s driveway on the other side. I know this only because one of the landscapers, not knowing me, came to my door, thinking it was my driveway and my car.

According to a policeman who showed up a couple of hours later, the car sustained a lot of damage. I gave him the landscaping company’s phone number, and he gave me his card, saying he remembered asking me years ago if drivers were stopping to let me cross streets with my white cane. I couldn’t believe it.

In the fall of 2002, I was single and living in an apartment complex subsidized for seniors and people with disabilities. A registered music therapist, I was working in a nursing home. On a day off, I was walking home after my water exercise class at the YMCA. I’d just jaywalked in front of my building and stopped to talk to a neighbor in a wheelchair when she told me there was a policeman behind me. I turned around and there he was, on a bicycle.

Where had he come from? Had he seen me jaywalk? Was I about to get a ticket, my first ever brush with the law?

To my surprise and relief, he asked me if I was having difficulty crossing streets because drivers weren’t stopping. I told him that as long as I used four-way and other intersections where drivers were required by law to stop, I rarely had a problem. I also explained that I couldn’t see well enough to get the license plates from offending vehicles. He said he would bring up the issue at roll call and rode away.

Now, I was again flustered, even though I’d done nothing wrong this time. All I could tell him was that our first meeting had inspired my first novel. I should have given him my card, but I didn’t. He probably thought I was nuts and wished he’d given me that ticket for jaywalking years ago. In any case, we parted amicably enough.

After I posted about this incident on Facebook, someone asked if the story would continue. That remains to be seen. I may never see that officer again, but I’ll always have the memory of how our first meeting inspired We Shall Overcome.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
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