Born in New York City, in 1969, John Wall Barger is the author of six collections of poetry: Smog Mother (Palimpsest Press), Resurrection Fail (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2022), finalist for the Raymond Souster Poetry Award, finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award, finalist for the Grayson Book Prize; The Mean Game (Palimpsest, 2019), finalist for The Phillip H McMath Book Award; The Book of Festus (Palimpsest, 2015), finalist for the JM Abraham Poetry Award; Hummingbird (Palimpsest, 2012), finalist for the Raymond Souster Award; and Pain-proof Men (Palimpsest, 2009); and five chapbooks: Trying on the Walrus Costume in the Ed Sullivan Theater of the Mind (Bottlecap Press, 2022); The Kindness Machine (Moonstone Press, 2022); Dying in Dharamsala (Alfred Gustav Press, 2018); Samovar / Dukkha (Baseline Press, 2016), and The Vnfortunate Report & Tragicall Tidings of Leslie Barger (Thee Hellbox Press, 2016).
The 2017 co-winner of The Malahat Review’s 2017 Long Poem Prize, for “Smog Mother,” Barger has been shortlisted for the Montreal Poetry Prize twice (2011, 2013), has appeared in Best Canadian Poetry (2008, 2015) and Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2017), and was a finalist for Arc’s Poem of the Year Contest (2002). His poems have been widely published and anthologized, appearing in American Poetry Review, The Cincinnati Review, Rattle, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Hopkins Review, The Awl, Vallum, Pleiades, Poetry Ireland Review, Antioch Review, Cimarron Review, Fiddlehead, American Literary Review, Subtropics, Hotel Amerika, and elsewhere. His critical writing has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Zyzzyva, The Rumpus, Jacket2, Rain Taxi, Literary Matters, The Malahat Review, EVENT, Atlantic Books Today, and elsewhere.
Barger has received the Canada Council Grant for Professional Writers, Mid-Career, three times (2013, 2019, 2022), and numerous Creation Grants from the Nova Scotia Arts Council. He has attended the Writing Studio at the Banff Centre twice (2006, 2010), the Sewanee Writer’s Conference (2021), and is a fellow of the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences. He was an editor with Painted Bride Quarterly from 2017 to 2019, and is currently a contract editor with Frontenac House. After moving to Canada in 1975, Barger grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has since lived in Italy, Ireland, Finland, Hong Kong, India, and the United States. He and his wife, the philosopher Tiina Rosenqvist, now live in West Philadelphia. He teaches in the BFA Program for Creative Writing at The University of the Arts.