Walter Bargen_Poet Laureate
Walter Bargen’s poems and fictions have appeared in more than one hundred magazines.
Walter Bargen: Missouri's First Poet Laureate
As the state’s first poet laureate, Ashland native Walter Bargen crisscrossed the state speaking, reading his work, and championing the power of words to move the imagination.
“Poems are more relevant than they have ever been,” he says.
Walter, the award-winning author of 11 books, has been writing for nearly 30 years. His work has appeared in more than 100 publications, including The Missouri Review. He grew up in Belton near Kansas City and attended the University of Missouri at Columbia where he has now worked for decades.
In the fall of 2007, he was one of more than 100 Missourians nominated to become the first state poet laureate; he was selected as a finalist in December 2007 and interviewed with former Governor Matt Blunt. When Walter got the news he had been appointed to fill the two-year term as Missouri’s first poet laureate, he was “surprised, delighted, taken aback, wondering what’s in store for me.”
From February 2008 to January 2010, Walter was poet laureate, making appearances at public libraries and schools across the state to promote the arts in Missouri. And, while not a requirement of the position, Walter penned a poem about the state, “Moon Walk Missouri.” He read the poem at the ceremony marking his appointment in the state capitol rotunda.
“It’s about the need to tell stories and how that is an essential part of our identity,” Walter says of the poem.
That need was a central theme of Walter’s message as he talked to people about poetry’s continuing ability to move us in our fast-paced, digital age—something he witnessed with the outpouring of poetry after 9/11.
“People find solace in something that is well crafted and thoughtful,” he says.
Visit www.walterbargen.com for more information.