Chris Collins

Creative Nonfiction Writer, Poet

Author's Bio

My poetry is a reflection of my assessment of the world in a specific place and time. As I composed and completed my MFA thesis, Gathering Leaves for War, I was still actively engaged in the Global War on Terrorism. Multiple times I would leave my family, go to war, then come home and be required by family and friends to resume the quotidian activities of husband and father with little or no transition from the violence I was just weeks ago executing. My poetry was an attempt to wrestle with this challenge, this authentic, and sometimes imagined, place I was daily immersed (e.g., lazily walking the family dog through the subdivision without a weapon; shopping in Kroger for more than anything that I could ever need for a day’s ration; or attempting to sleep at night without an armed overwatch as a car’s headlights slipped through the wooden blinds of the second-floor bedroom window). Eventually, my poems became longer, and this led to my search for a new means, a new genre. It led me to a deeper exploration of the experiences that I felt many combat veterans bear from the aftermath of war.

My nonfiction explores some of the same thematic issues as my poetry. However, now as a former military officer, honorably discharged, and a combat veteran, my nonfiction critically investigates the anguish of living with the memories of war and its suffered after-effects. Still happily married for almost twenty years (and a father of two), this person who was once a virile leader of men has days of difficulty, where at times, departing the house or sliding from beneath blankets of the bed is intimidating. The feeling of a soldier’s value in war is replaced by a mere cosmic insignificance of the soldier as a mere civilian. In war, leaders and their men direct missions. Missions have a direct impact. At home, the soldier as civilian pumps gas on a Wednesday afternoon while checking sports scores on the latest version of the iPhone. Where is the noble importance?

My poetry and essays attempt to explore these complexities, these confusions of the fractured self. They grapple with questions as to the various implications of what is life’s meaning beyond the razor wire of the combat zone situated in American suburbia. My poems and essays seek to find answers, and they seek to find, at least, some consolation.

Publications & Prizes

No, Achilles (WaterWood Press, 2015)
Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Volume 1 (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2012)
Against Agamemnon (WaterWood Press, 2009)
My American Night (University of Georgia Press, 2018)
Gathering Leaves for War (Finishing Line Press, 2013)
Prizes won: 

The Georgia Poetry Award, University of Georgia Press,

Fellowship, “Writing Away the Stigma,” Creative Nonfiction,

Pushcart Nomination,

Paumanok Poetry Award, Farmingdale State College,

Thomas More College Dr. Sandri L. Cuni Creative Writing Award,

Thomas More College Toebben Scholarship for Study Abroad (Dublin/Galway, Ireland)                                            

Personal Favorites

Favorite authors: 
Gregory Orr Mary Oliver Bruce Weigl Scott Russell Sanders Thomas Merton Kate Chopin
What I'm reading now: 
Writing with Clarity and Style: A Guide to Rhetorical Devices for Conteporary Writers by Robert Harris, Storycraft by Jack Hart

More Information

Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Identifies as: 
Irish American
Prefers to work with: 
Any, At Risk Youth, Children, Incarcerated individuals, Teachers, Teenagers, Veterans
Fluent in: 
Born in: 
Covington, KY
Raised in: 
Alexadria, KY
Please note: All information in the Directory is provided by the listed writers or their representatives.
Last update: Aug 08, 2018