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Xavier Magazine | September 23, 2017

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Soldier Poet

Greg Schaber

War and family are the major themes in Capt. Christopher Collins’ life these days. Perhaps that isn’t surprising—the 2001 MEd graduate is an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he serves as a detachment commander in psychological operations and has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

What sets Collins apart, though, is that war and family are also the primary themes of his poetry. Recently two of those poems, “Child of Chicken Street” and “War,” were selected to appear in Against Agamemnon: War Poetry, a book edited by Pulitzer Prize nominee James Adams.

Publication is nothing new for Collins—his work has appeared in roughly 10 journals over the past decade, most recently The Chaffin Journal, Poetry Midwest and the English Journal. He began writing as a second grader at St. Mary of the Assumption grade school in Alexandria, Ky. Love of language led Collins to major in English as an undergraduate at Thomas More College. An Army reservist since his undergrad days, Collins joined R.O.T.C. at Xavier while in graduate school.

“I think I was one of their first ‘graduate’ cadets,” he says.

Married to his high school sweetheart, Angela, and now a father of two, Collins teaches English at Covington Catholic High School in Northern Kentucky and is continuing his education, working on a Master of Fine Arts at Murray State University. He hopes one day to teach college.

“I write to relay experiences, and if someone ‘gets’ something from it, maybe a deeper understanding of war, nature, family—whatever the theme is—then great,” he says. “It is beautiful to write something where a reader can read the work like they are listening to a musical composition. Music touches people through the emotions. That is what poetry does for me.”

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