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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cleveland Poet George Bilgere: A Cadaver Got Him Started

CLEVELAND (TDB) -- Ever hear of The Dead Poet's Society? This tale runs in reverse. George Bilgere, who runs the creative writing program at John Carroll University, is a living poet of note. But it was a dead guy, a janitor named Morris who left his body to science, that unlocked the Ohioan's inner muse. He told Garrison Keillor recently just how it happened

Bilgere said he started college planning to be a scientist, then a physician.

"It took just one terrifying experience with Chemistry 101 to cure me of that delusion. And I realized I'd rather write about the world than dissect it. But in many ways the things I learned about in biology and zoology courses proved just as valuable to me as a writer as anything I learned in a writing workshop. For instance, the first poem I wrote as an undergrad -- my first poem, period -- was about Morris, the school cadaver. He'd been a janitor at the school for 30 years, and decided he wanted to stay on, even in death. I never would have met Morris if I'd started life as an English major. What is that joke? If you want to make God laugh, make a plan."

There is more about Bilgere at John Carroll and one of his poems is here. It's not about Morris, who definitely belongs to the dead janitor's society.

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