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 many journals, including American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review (online), The Cincinnati Review, The Awl, Rattle, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. He was included in The Montreal Prize Global Poetry Anthology (2011 and 2013), Best Canadian Poetry (2008 and 2015), and Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2017). He was co-winner of Malahat Review's 2017 Long Poem Prize.
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.
His most recent collection, The Mean Game (Palimpsest Press, 2019), was a finalist for The Phillip H. McMath Book Award 2021, and is currently in its second print run.
"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