The Feast: Prose Poem Sequences
Walter Bargen, Poet Laureate of Missouri
with art by Mike Sleadd
$13.95 paper, 115 pages
2005 winner of the William Rockhill Nelson Award for
Literary Excellence in Poetry
...This book is hugely ambitious, original, affecting, and at many points, extraordinarily powerful.
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
I have trouble deciding which myth Bargen
has more fun with: the mythical heroes or the myth of poetry and prose and where
the line between them is drawn. The longer he dances on that line, the more the
reader benefits. —Sentence: A Journal
of Prose Poetics
The Feast shows us personal myth connecting seamlessly to larger myth, the "debris of civilization" melding with the immediate debris of the heart and psyche and making a secular yet almost metaphysical meaning. With wit and gravity, irony and great pathos, Chariots and Edsels, Omaha Beach and Agincourt, these prose poems keenly assess the fable of the world and bring us all a light--practical, inventive--to redeem our suffering and struggle. Bargen is brilliant yet modest, and in his particulars recovers our common history. These poems offer the reader a classic and immediate knowledge of ourselves, which is what we hope for in our best poetry.
—Christopher Buckley, author of Star Apocrypha and Fall From Grace
Brilliant! Walter Bargen dissolves the boundaries between prose and poetry in favor of a cross-genre that, in his hands, seems created for his voice alone. Once again, he's constructed a magnificent universe with its own peculiar laws of time and space wherein the past conjoins with the present, and the fain heart inevitably rules. The Feast is a work of subversive genius, particularly relevant to today's political and cultural climate.
—Debra Di Blasi, author of Drought and Say What You Like
I've long been a fan of Walter Bargen's poetry, but in these short prose pieces he surpasses himself. They're lovely and subtle, brilliant and strange. He has a keen sense for the surreal and the absurd, but unlike lesser writers, he never retreats into mere surrealism or absurdity. ... In The Feast, Bargen creates characters in delightful, startlingly modern ways. He is one of the Midwest's most brilliant--and underappreciated--writers at work today.
In The Feast, Walter Bargen has generated a cosmology that ricochets between eschatology and creation, and he's fostered a world that simultaneously dies and is reborn out of the chaos of consciousness....History is not a nightmare from which Bargen is trying to awake; it is a sea of contingency, congruence, and limitless possibility into which Bargen dives headlong.
Walter Bargen’s work has appeared in over one hundred magazines including The Georgia Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Prairie Schooner. He is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in poetry. Other awards include the Quarter After Eight Prose Prize ( for the “Nine Lives in the Western Front” sequence in this book), the St. Louis Poetry Center’s Hanks Prize, and the Chester H. Jones Foundation Prize. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Missouri. He lives in Ashland, Missouri.
Mike Sleadd teaches in the Art Department at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri. Known primarily for his intricate pen and ink drawings, this is the first book that he has illustrated using digital images.