Having heard that Bilgere is one of the best poets working in Cleveland, I was excited about this collection. Unfortunately, I found the tone of the pieces to be repetitive, and that tone comes across as smug cleverness. There are a few tentative openings (often about the persona’s father) into what could have been interesting poems but they are throwaway moments here. Bilgere tries for this ordinary man voice which is quite at odds with some of the privileged experiences he describes. In both “Norwood” and “Eighty Yards,” I was troubled by his descriptions of African-American characters.
An opposing point of view (one of many):