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Enter the 2008
Book Prize

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Runner-up in the 2006 National Poetry Review Book Prize

Gilgamesh at the Bellagio

by Karl Elder

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"What a tour de force!"
David Lehman, Series Editor, The Best American Poetry

Gilgamesh at the Bellagio opens memorably as Karl Elder confronts the reader with his always-astonishing prosodic acrobatics, showcased this time in 26 deeply intelligent decasyllabic abecedarians. It ends with more of the same (but backwards!) in “Z Ain’t Just for Zabacedarium.” Glimmering in between is the title poem, which recreates, with sardonic humor and a perfect ear for the vernacular, aspects of society’s profound collective melancholia. A tour de force by a superlative American poet.”
Marilyn L. Taylor

“These intellectual poems owe a debt to the tradition of cerebral poets: Shakespeare, Donne and the metaphysicals, Modernists like Eliot, Pound, and Stevens, and John Berryman’s Dream Songs, although they also reference pop culture figures. Difficult at times, Elder’s poems merit careful attention, both for their fresh approach to form, as well as for their range of subject matter and their wit, and they reward close, repeated readings.”
Wendy Vardaman

“[Karl Elder] is, for my money, writing some of the most innovative and resonant verse out there. And, man, he is out there. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean that while he seems to have his literary ancestors like the rest of us (Stevens for his lushness, Donne for his wit, Berryman for his change-up syntax pitch), he seems to come at the world from an angle uniquely his own.”
Beth Ann Fennelly

In this book you’ll find a gambling/gamboling Gilgamesh framed by sassy romps through the alphabet. Whether Elder is coming or going, he’s always having fun and so, reader, will you.
Lola Haskins

“Karl Elder is a clever man and poet. . . . inventive . . . imaginative and energetic . . . . Why not enjoy a bit of this welcome relief from our extended bitter recitations? Shakespeare occasionally gave us a fun break even in his tragedies.”
Paul Zimmer

Karl Elder is the Jacob and Lucile Fessler Professor of Creative Writing and Poet in Residence at Lakeland College as well as author of nine collections of poetry. Among his honors are a Pushcart Prize, two appearances in the Best American Poetry series, the Chad Walsh Award, the Lorine Niedecker Award, the Lucien Stryk Award, grants from the Illinois Arts Council for poetry and fiction, Lakeland’s Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Robert Schuricht Endowment.