John Wall Barger was born in Staten Island, New York, and grew up in Nova Scotia. As an adult he lived in Vancouver, Ottawa, Rome, Prague, Dublin, Dharamsala (India), Hong Kong, and Philadelphia. He lived in the north end of Halifax for many years. Over the last ten years, he has taken part in many readings and workshops across Canada and the US.
His poems and critical writing have appeared in American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review Online, Zyzzyva, Rattle, The Cincinnati Review, The Hopkins Review, The Iowa Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and Best of the Best Canadian Poetry. His poem, “Smog Mother,” was co-winner of The Malahat Review’s 2017 Long Poem Prize. His fifth collection of poems, Resurrection Fail (Spuyten Duvyil Press, 2022) was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Poetry Award, the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and the Grayson Book Prize. His latest collection, Smog Mother, just came out (Palimpsest Press, 2022). He is a contract editor at Frontenac House, and teaches Creative Writing at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
John's second book of poems, Hummingbird (Palimpsest Press, 2012) was nominated for the Raymond Souster Award. Judges' comments: "In John Wall Barger's Hummingbird, being alive sometimes seems like one flourish after another. But these are not mere embellishments or affectations. Barger has a truly innovative spirit and an eye for the unusual and unforgettable. These poems add up to a journey around the world, each step as intensely focused and daring as the one before. Prepare to have your senses exploded, your nerves tested, your love of high notes taken to breathtaking new spheres."
The Book of Festus (Palimpsest Press, 2015) was shortlisted for the JM Abraham Poetry Award.
The Mean Game (Palimpsest Press, 2019), finalist for The Phillip H. McMath Book Award 2021, and is currently in its second print run.
Resurrection Fail (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2021), finalist for the Raymond Souster Award, for the Eric Hoffer Award, and for the Grayson Book Prize (as a manuscript, 2020).
Smog Mother (Palimpsest Press, 2022).
"Anyone who writes with the flourish and intensity of John Wall Barger deserves to be read and re-read. His ability to linger over a scene, to ruminate over its history and give himself over to the poetic impulse is complete and genuine." -The Malahat Review