Mario Chard: National Poetry Month

Mario Chard

Author: Mario Chard

First can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do for fun? Where did you study? What are some things you absolutely love?

I teach and write poetry for a living. I’m also a family man. I watch a lot of television with my wife after our boys go to bed. Some things I absolutely love include sleeping, walking, my sons’ jokes, artichokes, finishing a poem, starting a poem, my wife, free food, a good song, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

What kind of things inspire you to write poem? What makes you want to write poetry?

Images, strange or beautiful, tend to inspire poems. Very small things. Mistakes. Also very large things, like great anger. Human speech. I write poetry to work out questions, to lie a little about the things that trouble me and see what comes of it. I write for a “momentary stay” against age.

Tell us about a poet who has greatly influenced you as a writer?

Robert Frost has had the most profound effect on my work and mind as a writer. I admire his deceptions and parables. I love his ear for human speech. I find many of his poems, and certainly even his most popular, to be inexhaustible.

What are some of your writing habits that you have? These can be old, bad, new or just strange habits that you can’t seem to break when writing.

I pause a lot in drafting and take frequent breaks. I work with notebooks first before transferring the work to computers. I often print out a new poem, fold it so that it fits into my pocket, and then read it throughout the day to see or hear what I missed.

Share with us one of your recent poems and tell us a little bit about its context?

This poem was born out of image and worry. My second son, a newborn at the time, was ill and set for a procedure at the hospital. I went to Stanford’s Memorial Church and sat alone in the pews. Light coming through the stained glass of Abraham’s robe had cast a red glow. And that was it—the poem and its obsessive repetitions followed quickly.

Where do you see yourself and your work in 5 years? 

When I was younger I used to order maps from various cities and states across the country. Now I just use a phone when I travel. I feel a little embarrassed by that: the perfection of it. The capacity to have a disembodied voice do all the work of finding my roads for me. So in five years, I’ll still be writing and teaching. If I’m smart, I will have also returned to paper maps.


Mario Chard was born in northern Utah and educated at Weber State University, Purdue University, and Stanford University as a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry. Recent poems have appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Boston Review, Colorado Review, FIELD, Image, and Indiana Review, among others. Winner of the 2012 “Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Prize, he currently writes and teaches in Atlanta, Georgia, where he lives with his wife and sons.