Poetry: The power of silence and the role of imagination; Walter Bargen, Poet Laureate of Missouri

A poem is sculpted on the page. The words, punctuation, and the line direct us to the music of the poem, but it’s what the poem is wrapped in, perhaps skims or floats over, the white of the page, that silence that lies behind the poem that gives voice and power to the poem itself. Is there an inherent ethic to be distilled from this silence? And what part does imagination play in this tango between the poem and the page, between the poem and silence? Does the poetic imagination create the world, and if so, has imagination failed us? There will be more questions than answers – as e.e. cummings wrote: always the beautiful answer/that asks the more question.

Walter Bargen has published eleven books of poetry and two chapbooks. The latest are: The Feast, BkMk Press-UMKC, 2004, a series of prose poems, winner of the 2005 William Rockhill Nelson Award; Remedies for Vertigo (2006) from WordTech Communications; and West of West from Timberline Press (2007). Theban Traffic is scheduled for publication in May of 2008. His poems have recently appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal, New Letters, Poetry East, and the Seattle Review. He was appointed to be the ‘ poet laureate of Missouri in 2008.