Collaboration with Philadelphia Jazz Project

John Wall Barger inside the studio of the Philadelphia Jazz Project in Fishtown

On Thursday, July 18th, I was invited by artist/curator and director of the Philadelphia Jazz Project, Homer Jackson, to record a few poems in their studio. I read Whitman’s Song of Myself, sections 6 and 7, multiple times — and one (Whitman-connected) poem of my own. It was great fun! I’ve never made a professional recording before.

 The Philadelphia Jazz Project is helping to celebrate poet Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday. You can find out more on Twitter: @PHLJazzProject or Facebook: @PhilaJazzProject.

Up close to the mic
John Wall Barger beside Homer Jackson

Final Workshop and Reading of Mean Game Tour, in Vancouver

John Wall Barger gave a workshop on Lorca’s Duende, at Kevin Spenst‘s gorgeous space in the West End of Vancouver (thanks to Kevin Spenst for the pic)

June 29th was the final day of my Mean Game tour. Day 39! I’d met Kevin Spenst a few years before in Toronto, and we’d stayed in touch. When I told him I was coming to Vancouver he rolled out a kind of poetic red carpet for me: putting me in touch with every writer he could think of, arranging an interview for me on co-op radio, and offering to host a reading and workshop at his house! I even slept on his couch that night. (Thanks also to his marvelous partner, the artist and art therapist, Shauna Kaendo, for generously sharing the space with me.)

I gave a workshop on duende, and it was packed and wonderful. I got to meet some Vancouver writers I’d been in touch with, and had heard of, but had never seen in person.

For the reading, poet Alex Leslie read from their upcoming Book*hug collection of poems, “Vancouver for Beginners,” which was great. Kevin murdered us with a few poems, too. Then I, sadly, read for the last time for my Mean Game tour, 3000 miles away from my point of departure, Philadelphia.

To start his reading, Kevin SANG a poem from my Mean Game book, “Robbing a Bank & Suddenly Fingers that Gripped My Throat My Whole Life Let Go Song” (thanks to Alex Leslie for the pic)
John Wall Barger reading from The Mean Game, with Stanley Park in the background (thanks to Kevin Spenst for the pic)

Reading at Poetry Gabriola

John Wall Barger on the ferry from Nanaimo to Gabriola Island
John Wall Barger outside The Hive Emporium, before the Poetry Gabriola reading (thanks to PC Vandall for the pic)

On June 28th I read on Gabriola Island, one of the Gulf Islands, near Nanaimo, BC. PC Vandall invited me two years ago after reading my poem, “The Problem with Love.” She kept in touch with me while I planned my Mean Game tour, and we made it happen! Over 3000 miles from Philadelphia, almost 40 days from when I left, I arrived on the remote island. Thanks so much, PC, for your perseverance. Thanks also to Poetry Gabriola, and Andreas Kahre in particular, for having me.

The reading was very warmhearted and fun. Lots of laughter, chatting, and wine. And I enjoyed all the wildlife — hummingbirds, deer, peacocks — nearby. I wish I could have stayed for more than just a day!

The poet PC Vandall, who also read that evening
John Wall Barger reading from The Mean Game (thanks to PC Vandall for the pic)
John Wall Barger (thanks to PC Vandall for the pic)

Reading with John Barton at Bastion Books in Victoria

John Wall Barger and Victoria Poet Laureate John Barton

On June 28th I had a very fun evening with Victoria Poet Laureate, and friend, John Barton. I’ve known John as the editor of Canadian poetry journals Arc and, for the past fifteen years, The Malahat Review. He recently finished there and has begun a new chapter in his life as the poet laureate of Victoria, among other things.

We had a reading at 7:30pm at Bastion Books, but first we had dinner, and then official business. We attended a function at City Hall, where he read a poem. It was a sonnet called “The Loneliness of Everett Klippert,” about a queer man who was wrongfully imprisoned for many years.

First we
John Barton reading “The Loneliness of Everett Klippert” at City Hall in Victoria

After our trip to City Hall, we had a great reading at Bastion Books. There was popcorn and fizzy water, and a nice crowd. The proprietress, Alex Cruikshank, gave us a warm welcome. There was a brief Q&A afterwards.

Table-mates We Are Not Avatars and The Mean Game
John Wall Barger delivering The Mean Game (thanks to Alexandra Cruikshank for the pic)
John Wall Barger blurry as usual (thanks to Alexandra Cruikshank for the pic)

John Wall Barger Interviewed on Wax Poetic

The radio station (www.coopradio.org) is located on Columbia St, in a heartbreaking part of town

On June 26th I was interviewed on co-op radio (100.5 FM)—a show called Wax Poetic—by poet RC Weslowski. I was promoting my book, The Mean Game

The station is located off East Hastings Street in Vancouver, in a devastated part of the city. In response to my walk to the station, I started by reading him the cruelest poem in my book of cruel poems: “The Problem With Love.” He compared the poems of my book to the “goons” on the 1970’s Philadelphia Flyers, and also their present mascot, Gritty, all of which I took as the greatest compliment imaginable. This led to a conversation about surrealism, involving David Lynch, Cocteau, Gordard, Donald Barthelme, and Mary Ruefle. 

You can listen to the conversation here.

John Wall Barger and RC Weslowski (thanks to RC Weslowski for the pic)
John Wall Barger reading “The Problem With Love” from The Mean Game

Reading at Single Onion series in Calgary

Self Life Books is a gorgeous bookstore

On June 20th I read poems from The Mean Game at Shelf Life Books in Calgary with Patrick Horner, dee Hobsbawn-Smith, Nikki Reimer and Nikki Sheppy. There was a great crowd, and wine and cheese. Electricity in the air! It was the 23rd event of my Mean Game tour — and one of my favorites for sure. Thanks enormously to host David Martin for having us.

dee Hobsbawn-Smith (thanks to Nikki Reimer for the pic)
John Wall Barger reading from The Mean Game (thanks to Nikki Reimer for the pic)

Argo Reading Series: An Evening of Verse, Prose & Song

Ilona Martonfi reading two very cool poems

On June 13th I read from The Mean Game at the Argo Bookshop in Montreal, with Carolina Echeverria, Ilona Martonfi, H. Nigel Thomas,  Mike Di Sclafani, Geneviève Lacombe,  Shaheen Munir,  Domenic Marinelli,  Sheryl Halpern, and Matthew Murphy. Thank you to Ilona Martonfi for hosting this event.

Shaheen Munir sang two songs based on lyrics by Tagore
John Wall Barger sounding his barbaric yawp (thanks to Tiina Rosenqvist for the pic)

Palimpsest Press Montreal Launch at Argo Bookshop

Palimpsest Press spring titles spotted at Argo Bookshop!

On June 12 us Palimpsest Press authors—Liz Ross (After Birth), John Barton (We Are Not Avatars), Nadja Lubiw-Hazard (The Nap-Away Motel), and John Wall Barger (The Mean Game)—met again to read, this time in Montreal in the famous Argo Bookshop. It was a very fun reading, which led to long conversations and drinks afterwards. Thanks of course to Palimpsest publisher Aimee Parent Dunn for all her encouragement and support. Viva Palimpsest Press!

This roughly marks the halfway point in my Mean Game tour. I’ve already read in the States (Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia), and in Canada in Halifax, Lunenburg, London, Hamilton, Toronto, and Ottawa. After Montreal is Edmonton, Calgary, Canmore, Vancouver, Victoria, and Gabriola Island. And I’m not tired at all!

Liz Ross reads from After Birth (thanks to Jade for the pic)
Nadja Lubiw-Hazard reads from The Nap-Away Motel (thanks to Jade for the pic)
John Barton reads from We are not Avatars (thanks to Jade for the pic)
John Wall Barger reads from The Mean Game (thanks to Megan Thurston for the pic)