Walter Bargen has published 24 books of poetry. Recent books include: Too Quick for the Living (Moon City Press, 2017), My Other Mother’s Red Mercedes (Lamar University Press, 2018), and Until Next Time (Singing Bone Press, 2019). His awards include: a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Chester H. Jones Foundation Award, and the William Rockhill Nelson Award. He was appointed the first poet laureate of Missouri (2008-2009). He studied philosophy and anthropology at the University of Missouri, receiving a BA in Philosophy and a Masters in English Education. He currently lives outside Ashland, Missouri, on eleven acres of reclaimed pasture where he feeds a rowdy gang of raccoons, too many feral cats that have decided a bowl of food is enough to declare themselves tame, and all the usual birds: cardinals, mourning doves, humming birds, and many more.
Let me posit that poetry must first entertain, in order to enlighten. This prose poem collection, Pole Dancing in the Night Club of God, is Walter Bargen at his finest. True enough, but I would venture further to say it is contemporary poetry at its very best.
Here the poet describes the adventures and misadventures of Adam and Eve, Moses,
Luke and Paul, The Carpenter et. al. as Everyman in a colloquial, modern day society. Bargen is a bottomless wellspring of lush, mind-boggling images that leap and bound throughout the collection. Each line is masterfully crafted; and not one click of the telegraph here—a surprise awaits each step.
Without the slightest concern for hyperbole, I say I’ve not been more entertained by a book of poems for years. The humor, and there is plenty, is hilarious, dead on, yet affable. I am reminded of the old saw: “If you want to hear God laugh—tell him your plans.” At times, Pole Dancing in the Night Club of God is bathed in humanity; and at other points, bristling with it. Bargen is among the keenest observers of nature, two-legged and the rest, writing today. It is prescient of the times we are certain to come face to face with in our fast-approaching, discombobulated future.
I’ve heard it said the definition of spirituality is awareness. If so, this is a holy book.
—Robert Nazarene, founding editor, The American Journal of Poetry