Upper School English teacher Mario Chard was recently named a 2019 Georgia Author of the Year by the Georgia Writers Association. Notable recipients of awards by the Georgia Writers Association include President Jimmy Carter and Rep. John Lewis. Mr. Chard’s work, Land of Fire, was recognized in the Poetry-Full Length category.
The journey of writing Land of Fire took Mr. Chard throughout the world over several years, from an MFA at Purdue University, a fellowship at Stanford, and a catalytic trip to Argentina. The center of his book focuses on a car crash in southern Utah involving illegal immigrants in a Chevy Suburban, as well as moments from his visit to Argentina. In his eyes, Land of Fire deals with themes of migration, landscape, and perception.
“Our experience of reality is enormous, and that means that we’re losing things constantly, and so I think that poetry can be an act of redeeming what is lost, by our nature of not being able to remember everything,” Chard said.
Other themes in Land of Fire include mistakes in initial viewpoints and “passed-over things”, things which appear small and insignificant.
Mr. Chard received the Georgia Writers Association’s award for Land of Fire in an email while in Berlin for a poetry festival.
“It was really nice to feel recognition from my home state,” Chard said. “To feel, like having lived here five years, the state I live in considers me a writer here. […] That’s probably my favorite part.”
Chard remembered his feelings right after receiving the email from the Georgia Writers Association. “I went to sleep with a big smile on my face.”
In the future, Mr. Chard plans to write a second book of poems made up of love poems and elegies. His other projects involve writing a memoir about a grocery store he grew up cleaning, essays about poetry, and possibly a screenplay for a film.
“I have deep plots.”