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Ernest Hilbert’s debut collection Sixty Sonnets (2009) was described by X.J. Kennedy as “maybe the most arresting sequence we have had since John Berryman checked out of America.” A selection of sixteen poems from the book serve as the spoken vocal track of the album Elegies & Laments. A sequel to Sixty Sonnets, All of You on the Good Earth, will appear in 2013.

In addition to performing and recording with his backing group Legendary Misbehavior, Hilbert writes scripts for the post-punk conceptual band Mercury Radio Theater. He also appears in films for Mercury, which are screened at their sold-out performances.

His poems have appeared in several anthologies, including the Swallow Anthology of New American Poets (2009) and two Penguin anthologies, Poetry: A Pocket Anthology and Literature: A Pocket Anthology (2011). He hosts the popular blog and works as an antiquarian book dealer in Philadelphia, where he lives with his wife, an archaeologist.


Elegies & Laments

Ernest Hilbert

PC009 - Released 2013

Vinyl   $18

CD      $10

DDL    $5  

"Amazing and innovative . . . The music is variegated and fascinating, by turns vicious and lovely . . . [it does] what art should do: change things. Elegies and Laments will change you, too."
- Literary Magnet

Photo by Matthew Wright  |  Fig Tree Photography

Meet Ernest Hilbert

No, we’re not joking.

Despite the dismal history of attempts by rock artists and poets from the 1950s to the present to make a legitimately entertaining spoken word album, local Philadelphia rock veterans Marc Hildenberger and Dave Young remained optimistic and recorded Ernest Hilbert reading sixteen poems they selected from his first book, Sixty Sonnets, and then, being utterly mad (and perhaps masochistic), actually wrote music around the recorded poems as a “score,” as one would for a film . . . or maybe a cop show on TV. It soon became an untitled Pub Can Records project, with no release date and an ambiguous budget. It remained that way for several years.

The album that would eventually be titled Elegies & Laments grew over time to include a string orchestra (scored by young composer Christopher LaRosa), a battery of vintage instruments and electronics, mad-scientist rewirings, experimental technologies, session musicians, guest readers (PAUL SIEGELL, QUINCY R. LEHR, and KRISTINE YOUNG), and, perhaps inevitably, a harp.The grape and grain-fueled late night sessions at Widget Studios, on the city’s outskirts, yielded a soundtrack of surprising variety and depth, mingling past and present, making use of indie rock, jazz, heavy metal, classical, and R&B styles.

The result is Elegies & Laments, a spoken-word album unlike any other.

“A Spoken Word Album? You’re Joking, right?”