Walter Bargen

Walter Bargen
Walter Bargen has published 19 books of poetry.  Recent books include:  Days Like This Are Necessary: New & Selected Poems (2009), Endearing Ruins/Liebenswerte Ruinen (2012), and Trouble Behind Glass Doors (2013). Quixotic was published by El Grito del Lobo Letter Press in 2014. His awards include: the Chester H. Jones Foundation prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and the William Rockhill Nelson Award.  He was appointed the first poet laureate of Missouri (2008-2009).  

 He was born at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, farther back than he wants to admit.  As a result of his father’s military career, he has lived in many places including, Germany, Switzerland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Missouri.   He wrote his first poem when he was a senior in high school.  He taught himself how to write by two simple processes, reading and writing.  He reads not only to enjoy what others write but to learn how others write, and he firmly believes that reading and writing teach writing.  He has lived outside Ashland, Missouri, since he graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a BA in philosophy.  He later earned a M.Ed in English education from the same institution and then became distracted—again.


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Sunday Breakout Session: 9-9:50am

Robert Frost wrote, “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”  The novelist, John Updike, said something similar, that writing was like driving a car at night, you can only see as far as the headlights. So when James Tate, the contemporary poet, says, “I stare at the blank page because I want to travel to a new place. I want the language to be new. The ideas to be new,” he is looking for that surprise.  How does a writer surprise him or herself in the first line of a poem and how does that contribute to the trajectory of a successful poem.  What makes a good first line, its characteristics, and how can a first line can lift up a poem or leave it lying flat on the page? We will read many good first lines and examine how they resonant through an entire poem.

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