Poetry. Every story is at heart a theft from what was previously told and written. Each time the story is shared something changes, something is new, something is lost, something in our view of who we are is unsettled and unsettles the present day assumptions, and, if we are lucky a new world rises up. To paraphrase Heraclitus, You cannot step into the same story twice. These tales have been made new but also made wild, rising above common sense to glorify the uncommon sense, liberating Sisyphus, saving Jack and Jill from another tumble into a monotonous ennui.
"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
"Imagine you are on a highway somewhere in the Twilight Zone and have checked into the Bargen Apostolic Motel; that Moses, the night clerk, hands you the quill of a pigeon feather dipped in lemon juice, but when you sign the guest book your name doesn't show up; that Noah lives up the highway in a double-wide; that the Bible next to the lamp in your room was placed there by someone named Ozymandias; that before Eve, Adam had a quickie with someone named Kandy, as memorialized in a yellowed copy of Edith Hamilton's Mythology; that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are kitchen appliances who have dinner parties with Moses and the water heater; that you can only get three channels on the TV: a religious network where an Art Fern-type prophet sells less and less and less of everything; a Sci-Fi network where Godzilla and Goliath contemplate returning to a Gomorrah overrun with an epidemic of 'big-fat-feet;' while on the remaining channel a worn-out G.I. Joe complains about all the 'extravagantly filmed deaths' in the war movies he hosts. This is just a taste of Walter Bargen's POLE DANCING IN THE NIGHT CLUB OF GOD, the unnamed narrator contemplating his thumbs with 'only a few days left.' Yet, lest we think all is 'Atomized,' we find such lyricism as '...the sky shot through with clouds as if something vast is about to be spoken...' or 'The click of arthritic branches are a thousand white-tipped canes feeling along the wind,' or such sage observations as 'Everyday the world ends and no one notices.' Yes, we will stay here a night, two, listening to what's left of the wild as it 'lumbers low along dark sidewalks dragging a heavy tail,' in hopes the past doesn't come back 'armed and shooting again.' Bargen has pulled off a sly miracle of social commentary you won't be able to put down."—Robert L. Dean, Jr.
"There is something very serious at work beneath the wit, irony, word-play, juxtapositions of time and place, and flat-out roaring existential humor in Walter Bargen's new book of prose poems. A biblical cast of characters is at work and play in the contemporary world, and they stand in for all of us in their daily struggles and frustrations. Bargen's choice of the prose poem fits his voice perfectly; there is a credibility to these reports and also nifty phrasing, fresh inventive lingo and imagery, and amazing specificity indicting the human condition and questioning any metaphysical underpinnings. This is modern man/woman at the end of their tether, informed by all that's come before and often failed. We can learn something here, and enjoy it."—Christopher Buckley
Excerpt @ The American Journal of PoetryAarik Danielsen @ Columbia TribuneStephen Scott Whitaker @ The Broadkill ReviewInterview @ Vox Magazine
Walter Bargen has published 24 books of poetry. Recent books include: THE FEAST (BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2004), DAYS LIKE THIS ARE NECESSARY (BkMk Press at the University of Missouri- Kansas City, 2009), TROUBLE BEHIND GLASS DOORS (BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2013), Too Quick for the Living (Moon City Press, 2017), My Other Mother's Red Mercedes (Lamar University Press, 2018), Until Next Time (Singing Bone Press, 2019), and POLE DANCING IN THE NIGHTCLUB OF GOD (Red Mountain Press, 2020). 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.Author City: ASHLAND, MO USA