Too Quick for the Living


Walter Bargen
78 pages
5.5″ x 8.5″
978-0-913785-97-3 (paper)


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In Too Quick for the Living, Walter Bargen adds his poetry to the Missouri Authors Series with a resounding rollick of a collection. Poems included range from a quiet look at people and places left behind to an outright celebration of survivor-hood with a sprinkling of pop culture icons to show the way. Over all, the collection pleases the senses before the abrupt realization that even though the poems are “More Moses than Neil Young,” as Young would say, Something is happening here even if what it is ain’t exactly clear.

Walter Bargen has published 19 books of poetry including Days Like This Are Necessary: New & Selected Poems, Endearing Ruins/Liebenswerte Ruinen, Trouble Behind Glass Doors, and Gone West/Ganz Im Westen. 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) and is the first poet included in Moon City Press’s Missouri Authors Series.

“The poems in Too Quick for the Living are illuminated by the awareness of inevitable loss and so see clearly to the point of pain, finding just beyond the pain immense pleasure and not a little wisdom, as in how sorrow is “always in the missing./It’s the straight line off the map that kills us.” But this is not a book of despair, but one that finds “Heaven remains out there with all the empty miles.” Walter Bargen’s poems speak eloquently of magpies, those “Cold sentinels along Kansas dirt roads,” as a “winged declaration of union and disunion,” as well as how “From the mouths of blackened alleys pigeons coo.” These poems consistently go further than “the indefinite/boundaries of visions” and they keep going down the road that “disappears/into its own distance” to remind us life is made of “the wreckage of/destinations and departures.” Made, that is, by those who survive, who go on. Walter Bargen proves once again he is a survivor, one worth listening to.”
—George Looney, author of Meditations Before the Windows Fail

“When you see the work of Vincent van Gogh in person, it is astonishing to recognize just how much dimension it has, to realize just how much paint is piled on and cut through with stroke after fierce stroke. From a distance the work resolves in ways that challenge the scope of your understanding, not just what things look like, but how things are. Up close, each stroke becomes an impossible arrest and evocation of urgent energy, each stoke its own gesture of insistent art. In Too Quick for the Living, Walter Bargen makes poems that accomplish that same rare feat. Taken as whole pieces, these poems are evocative of times and places and people who are going away or already gone, but they are not just works of memory. The closer you get to the poems in this Bargen gallery, the closer you come to the resilient vitality of things that have been and live on as art, one sharp, powerful line at a time.”
—Marc McKee, author of Bewilderness

Distributed for Moon City Press.

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