Log in

John Wall Barger


Member profile details

Membership level
First name
John Wall
Last name


Profile picture
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
Languages and translation


Books and other publications

Smog Mother, Palimpsest Press, 2022.
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.


Trying on the Walrus Costume in the Ed Sullivan Theater of the Mind. Bottlecap Press. 2022.
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 Eric Hoffer Award 2022, for Resurrection Fail.
o Finalist for the Raymond Souster Award 2022, for Resurrection Fail.
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
  • Prose poetry
Genres (non-poetry)
  • Creative non-fiction
Genres (other)
Creative Nonfiction Essays on Poetics and Film


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)
International bookings
In Italy
Editorial services
  • Poetry manuscript evaluation
  • Poetry manuscript editing
  • Individual poem editing
  • Non-fiction editing
  • One-on-one mentoring
Editorial services: detail
John has years of experience editing many poetry manuscripts, leading poetry workshops, and mentoring poets. He has worked with poets writing in a variety of styles: using formal structures, and free verse.

Consultations available for full-length manuscripts, chapbook-length manuscripts, individual poems, and mentorship.

John is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Creative Writing at The University of the Arts (in Philadelphia), and a contract editor at Frontenac House. From 2012-2014, John taught a graduate-level creative writing workshop, and supervised graduate students working on their poetry manuscripts, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was an editor with Painted Bride Quarterly from 2017 to 2019.

Regarding fees, John will gladly price his work hourly, or on a flat-rate, per-project basis, depending on your preference. His rates are reasonable. Please contact John to discuss fees, scheduling, and your specific needs.

Online workshop

A One-On-One Poetry Workshop for those interested in an in-depth series of email exchanges about their poems. Each week for eight weeks the workshop member submits a different poem which John critiques in a 700-750-word email. That week the member responds to the critique and John responds to the member. After eight of these exchanges, one per week, in the ninth week the member writes a "conference letter" to John, topics initiated by the member, then John responds, and the member has an opportunity to respond again.