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John Wall Barger


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First name
John Wall
Last name
Province (postal abbreviation)


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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. He is a contract editor for Frontenac Press.

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), was a finalist for The Phillip H. McMath Book Award 2021, and is currently in its second print run.

His latest book, Resurrection Fail, is coming out with Spuyten Duyvil Press in fall 2021

"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


Books and other publications

Resurrection Fail, Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2021.
The Mean Game. Palimpsest Press. 2019.
The Book of Festus. Palimpsest Press. 2015.
Hummingbird. Palimpsest Press. 2012.
Pain-proof Men. Palimpsest Press. 2009.


The Kindness Machine. Moonstone Press, 2022.
The Vnfortunate Report & Tragicall Tidings of Leslie Barger. Thee Hellbox Press. 2016.
Samovar / Dukkha. Baseline Press. 2016.
Dying in Dharamsala. Alfred Gustav Press. 2018. (Forthcoming)
Awards and other achievements
o Finalist for The Phillip H. McMath Book Award 2021, for The Mean Game
o Finalist for 2020 Grayson Book Prize, for Resurrection Fail (manuscript)
o Semi-finalist: Conduit Books 2020 Minds on Fire Open book prize, for Amateur Escapologists (manuscript)
o Co-winner of The Malahat Review’s 2017 Long Poem Prize, for “Smog Mother”
o Finalist, JM Abraham Poetry Award, 2016, for The Book of Festus
o Finalist, The Raymond Souster Award, 2013, for Hummingbird
o Shortlist, Montreal Poetry Prize, 2013, for “The Problem with Love (included in Global Poetry Anthology, Véhicule Press)
o Shortlist, Montreal Poetry Prize, 2011, for “The Stiltwalkers” (included in Global Poetry
  • Print poetry
  • Long poems


Contact poet directly
johnwallbarger [at] gmail [dot] com
League-funded opportunities
  • Canada Poetry Tours (national)
  • Readings in Public Places (Toronto)
  • National Poetry Month (national, April only)
Editorial services
  • Poetry manuscript evaluation
  • Poetry manuscript editing
  • Individual poem editing