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AAA Vacation Guide

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“Philadelphia isn’t as bad as Philadelphians say it is.”
—Billboard on Interstate 95

Paris in the Spring, Autumn in New York,
Singers pair a city with a season
As though it belonged to it all year long.
They should try to put a few more to work:
Trenton in winter needs a good reason;
Scranton in summer seems so very wrong.
How about Cincinnati in the spring?
Autumn in Passaic, or in Oakland?
Some cities just lack glamour and appeal,
And there is no point arguing the thing.
No one reads through stacks of brochures to spend
A honeymoon in Allentown. Let’s get real.
Most places on the map, you must believe,
No one wants to visit, only to leave.


Ernest Hilbert, “AAA Vacation Guide” from Sixty Sonnets. Copyright © 2009 by Ernest Hilbert. Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.
Source: Sixty Sonnets (Red Hen Press, 2009)
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AAA Vacation Guide

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  • Born in Philadelphia and raised in southern New Jersey, poet, critic, and editor Ernest Hilbert received a BA from Rutgers University and a PhD in English literature from St. Catherine’s College of Oxford University, where he studied with James Fenton and Jon Stallworthy.
     
    In his debut collection, Sixty Sonnets (2009), Hilbert establishes a variation on the sonnet form, employing an intricate rhyme scheme and varied line length. A skillful practitioner of form and nuance, Hilbert shifts between delicately sonic moments and humorous narrative sequences. As poet and critic Adam Kirsch noted of the poems in Sixty Sonnets, “In these sonnets, whose dark harmonies and omnivorous intellect remind the reader of Robert Lowell’s, Hilbert is alternately fugitive and connoisseur, hard drinker and high thinker.” Hilbert’s second collection, All of You on the Good Earth (2013), returns to his idiosyncratic, highly inventive sonnet form.
     
    Hilbert founded the Oxford Quarterly and...

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