Education: Vassar College, B.A.; University of Oregon, M.F.A.
Seattle Arts Commission award; residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and the Cottages at Hedgebrook; Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission fellowship; Tupelo Press Judge's Prize for Bellini in Istanbul.
Bellini in Istanbul (poetry), Tupelo Press (Dorset, VT), 2005.
Contributor of poetry to periodicals, including Poetry, New England Review, Seneca Review, Pleiades, and the Gettysburg Review.
Poet Lillias Bever grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, then went on to receive her undergraduate degree at Vassar College, and her master's degree in fine arts at the University of Oregon. Her poetry has appeared in a number of periodicals, including Poetry, Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Seneca Review, and Pleiades. Bever has earned numerous awards and honors, including a fellowship from the Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission, an award from the Seattle Arts Commission, and residencies at both the MacDowell Colony and the Millay Colony for the Arts. Bellini in Istanbul, Bever's first verse collection, won the Tupelo Press Judge's Prize.
Bellini in Istanbul combines lush imagery of exotic foreign locations with the strong emotions inherent in monumental shifts in relationships. Bever intersperses locations such as a Turkish fish market or an Italian art exhibit with heartbreaking moments, such as breaking off a relationship in a foreign country, or joyful moments, such as having a child. The settings are intended to enhance the emotional effect by illustrating the extremes in life and linking the humanity in each moment to an image. Art plays a vital role in many of her poems, too, both for what it depicts and for its connection to the artist who created it. The title refers to a series of poems that serve as the centerpiece of the collection. They make reference to the artist Bellini and the time he spent at the court of the Turkish conqueror Mehmet during the fifteenth century. In a review for Booklist, Ray Olson remarked on the order of the poems in the collection and the ways in which history, mythology, and fantasy all intermingle. He dubbed Bever's effort "a thoughtful, dazzling first collection." Claire Keyes declared in the Women's Review of Books: "As it should be, the structure of this book of poems is a poem in itself." She concluded: "Sometimes derivative, sometimes dazzling, her poems make me eager to see what this brilliant young poet will come up with in her next volume." Tarpaulkin Sky reviewer Alexis M. Smith commented: "We sense the poet's yearning to preserve experience for the sake of the narrative; and that, ultimately, is what makes Bever's efforts so satisfying."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Baltimore Review, summer/fall, 2006, review of Bellini in Istanbul, p. 88.
Booklist, November 15, 2005, Ray Olson, review of Bellini in Istanbul, p. 15.
Internet Bookwatch, November, 2007, review of Bellini in Istanbul.
Oregonian, February 19, 2006, review of Bellini in Istanbul, p. 16.
Poet Lore, spring-summer, 2006, review of Bellini in Istanbul, p. 121.
Prairie Schooner, winter, 2007, review of Bellini in Istanbul, p. 183.
Women's Review of Books, November 1, 2006, Claire Keyes, "The Wisdom of Myth," p. 28.
Tarpaulkin Sky,http://www.tarpaulkinsky.com/ (January 12, 2008), Alexis M. Smith, review of Bellini in Istanbul.