News, Awards & Press

New Bargen Book to be Released

Monday, May 27, 2013

Walter Bargen has published sixteen books of poetry and one chapbook.  His poems and fictions have appeared in over one hundred magazines, including New Letters, River Styx, and A capella Zoo.  He has won the William Rockhill Nelson Award, the Chester H. Jones Foundation Prize, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. In 2008, he was appointed to be the first poet laureate of Missouri.  He lives in Ashland, Missouri, with his wife, Bobette, and twenty-some cats.  His website is


Whether turning his attention to the poet as unlikely, small-town-parade Grand Marshall, a relationship that’s reached the point-of-no-return that pilots know (“fuel / too low to turn back and too low to arrive”), fedora-tossing grandfathers who cheat at Go Fish, or American foreign policy as enacted by Laurel and Hardy, Walter Bargen reminds us—in language at once plain-spoken and oddly elegant—that we walk through a world fraught with equal measures of danger, wonder, and cockeyed joy.
                —David Clewell, Former Poet Laureate of Missouri

In Trouble Behind Glass Doors, Walter Bargen offers up—by way of those moments that adhere to us forever, those “trumpet vines / [that] once brushed the backs of our necks / at the zenith of a creaking arc”—a sympathetic voice to honor the land he lives on and the lives who seek its often difficult heart. Because “We never leave the places / we’ve lived. We construct and reconstruct our absences.” To this end, the poet has created a strong, lyrical, sometimes humorous testament that heeds a world we can very much, and gratefully, see.              
                —Gary Gildner

Press Release

Walter Bargen to Release New Book Of Poetry With BkMk Press

Poems explore life: life in general, life in Missouri, life as a poet, life as part of death.


Kansas City, MO. – BkMk Press of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) is pleased to announce the publication of “Trouble Behind Glass Doors”, a book of poetry by Walter Bargen written during and following his time as Missouri’s first poet laureate.  The book contains 40 pieces of new and published poetry covering a range of topics with titles from Tolstoy’s Ants and Foreign Policy to Naked History and Scantily Clad Poet. 

“Walter Bargen reminds us,” writes fellow former Missouri poet laureate David Clewell, “—in language at once plain-spoken and oddly elegant—that we walk through a world fraught with equal measures of danger, wonder, and cockeyed joy.”

“Trouble” is organized into three sections: the first considers the poet’s varying and ambiguous role as laureate, the second contemplates and illustrates and ludicrous nature of the phrase “whole facts,” and the third meditates on the apocalyptic fate of the world around and in us.

   “The title says it all,” says Bargen when asked sum up his newest book, “the ways that we fail ourselves, each other, sustaining ourselves on the earth, are there for all of us to see/read, if we will just open our eyes and minds.  I hope the panes of these poems are clear enough for all to see through.”

Bargen, who resides with his wife, Bobette, in Ashland, Missouri, has appeared in over 100 magazines and published 16 books of poetry and one chapbook, including “Days Like This Are Necessary” (BkMk Press, 2009), “West of West”(Timberline Press, 2007), and “The Feast” (BkMk Press, 2004).  He is also the recipient of numerous awards including a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship (1991), the Quarter After Eight Prose Prize (1996), the Hanks Prize (1996), the Chester H. Jones Foundation Poetry Prize (1997), and the 2005 William Rockhill Nelson Award for Best Poetry Book by a Missouri or Kansas writer.

            Media representatives who wish to obtain a review copy of “Trouble Behind Glass Doors” or purchase other BkMk titles may contact Ben Furnish, managing editor of BkMk Press, at or (816) 235-2558.  BkMk books are available through Ingram Company, SPD, Baker & Taylor, and directly through BkMk Press.


New Chapbook from BkMk Press

Friday, May 17, 2013

This edition of selected poems by Crystal MacLean Field has been produced by the editors of BkMk Press, in concert with the poet’s estate, to commemorate the 25th year of the Crystal Field Scholarship in Poetry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  Proceeds from sales of this book will support the scholarship.  We trust, also, that the book will re-introduce readers to the work of this influential and distinctive poet.

BkMk Press author Stephanie Powell Watts wins the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

Thursday, February 7, 2013

BkMk Press author Stephanie Powell Watts wins the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence For her book, We Are Taking Only What We Need (BkMk P, 2012)

Kansas City Literary Events

Cote Smith

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Wichita, Kan.


Winners Announced: New Letters Literary Awards

New Letters is pleased to announce the 2018 winners of the $2,500 Conger Beasley Jr. Prize for Nonfiction, the $1,500 New Letters Prize for Fiction, and the $1,500 Prize for Poetry. See the winners, judges, and finalists here.


Clarion Awards Selection CD Special

Jamaica KincaidJim ShepardGloria Vando & Anika ParisLuis Alberto Urrea, and Alex George, normally $7.99 per episode, this cd collection comes with over $15.00 in savings. Downloads of these programs have been reduced and are available through our archives.