The Book of Festus

Festus wakes inside a myth—on a wharf in Halifax, Nova Scotia— and recalls nothing but a bicycle. As he looks for it, he thinks the city’s thoughts. Upon a sidewalk over a buried river, he remembers what the city remembers. He steps past a skateboard park to a Mi’kmaq lagoon. He follows 17th century pioneer cattle to a fast food restaurant. In these poems, every object has a voice; every thing is awake. A girl he once knew steps out of the fragments. Festus is an anagogic man, loser-hero of the first city, Ur, Halifax. The Book of Festus is a shattered fable, a city’s lucid dream of itself.


John Wall Barger

John Wall Barger is the author of three previous books of poetry: Pain-proof Men (2009), Hummingbird (2011), and The Book Of Festus (2015), which was a finalist for the 2016 JM Abraham Poetry Award. His work has appeared in journals such as American Poetry Review, The Cincinnati Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Rattle, and the Best of the Best Canadian Poetry. In 2017, Barger’s poem “Smog Mother” was co-winner of The Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize. He is currently an editor for Painted Bride Quartlery. He lives in Philadelphia and Halifax.

Chapter Title Contents Contributors Pages Year Price


Invocation 4 $0.40


His Splendiferous Bicycle – Diorama of Spangled Bike, at Harbour – Eric the Red Cat – House of the Deaf Man – The Feast – Dream Map – The Kissing Bridge … 25 $2.50


Haligonians, to Festus – Holy Cross Cemetery – Festus Maximus, To Himself – Off-Course, Citadel Hill, the Bone Ghost Sings of Electricity – Map Song N° 1 – The … 38 $3.80


Festus, Hansel & Grendel – Were There Testimonials? – Map Song N° 3 – The Egg Pond – Park Lane Approacheth – Humungous Bos Taurus! – Bullfight – … 24 $2.40