John Wall Barger


After a few years in the U.S., John Wall Barger grew up in Nova Scotia, and then moved away to Vancouver, Ottawa, Rome, Prague, and Dublin. He lived in the north end of Halifax for many years. Over the last ten years, he has taken part in many readings and workshops across Canada.

His poems have appeared in many journals internationally, including The Cincinnati Review, Rattle, The Malahat Review, and Geist. He was included in The Best Canadian Poetry (2008 and 2015), and The Montreal Prize Global Poetry Anthology (2011 and 2013).

John’s second book of poems, Hummingbird (Palimpsest Press, 2012), was nominated for the Raymond Souster Award. His most recent collection, The Book of Festus (Palimpsest Press, 2015), was recently shortlisted for the JM Abraham Poetry Award. Judge’s comments: “Polyphonic, densely textured, ranging over the city of Halifax in vast time and in space, The Book of Festus is an ambitious and original contribution to the poetry of Atlantic Canada and to the poetry of cities. Through Festus, a personification of the city’s energies and its search for itself, Wall Barger depicts the sordid as well as the healthful dimensions of the city, interweaving geological, historical, ecological, and social motifs. Festus, like epic heroes of old, is on a quest. In this dazzlingly allusive, thoroughly contemporary version of epic, Wall Barger brings the city alive in all its complexity.”

“Anyone who writes with the flourish and intensity of John Wall Barger deserves to be read and re-read. His ability to linger over a scene, to ruminate over its history and give himself over to the poetic impulse is complete and genuine.” -The Malahat Review

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than two years and/or have not yet been published in any form.
  • Emerging writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than five years and/or have some short publications (poems, stories, or essays) in literary magazines, journals, or anthologies.
  • Established writers/authors: those with numerous publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies and/or a full-length book publication.
  • Professional authors: those with two or more full-length book publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer (that is, participant-to-participant) feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at