Happy Witness Weekend! We are honored to be sharing readings from our Magic contributors and 2020 Lit Award Winners all month long; join us every Saturday and Sunday for new videos!
Today we have a special treat: our 2020 Lit Award first-place winner for poetry, Andrew Collard, reads from his poem “Future Ruins.” We were immediately captivated by the compelling way this poem approaches the landscape and experiences of Middle America. Our judge, Heather Lang-Cassera, writes:
Andrew Collard’s “Future Ruins” is an exceptional poem which refuses to shy away from the darkness yet is unafraid to acknowledge the strange beauties which whisper from within fissures and beyond peripheries. Collard captures complexities of contemporary life as the verse maintains its dichotomies, does not water down hardships nor loss. We explore a desperate sort of sadness, such as “what it means that I am from here // but can’t afford a home here.” Yet the work rejects didacticism, instead painting a palpable landscape, a place in which we can immerse ourselves for contemplation. This includes the work’s closing on a multifaceted image inside of a mall food court: “a shoot of grass stands through the cracked tile of the fountain / drained of water, all of its lucky pennies.” Through five vignettes, the poem zooms into and out from intimate moments, showcasing nuances of public and private topographies. When we were reading for the Witness Literary Awards late last year, we could not have foreseen the circumstances of COVID-19, which now amplify the urgency of this poem, one that, in part, realizes the deep reach of economic crisis. The timeliness of “Future Ruins” is almost eerie, perhaps a reminder that, to an extent, a great poem finds its poet, yet Collard is a rare writer who seems to have mastered both narrative and imagery, and through his dynamic writing, he addresses profound matters, acknowledges intricacies, and invites honest examination from the reader. This poem is a superb demonstration of the role of the modern writer as witness to their times.
We are so pleased to present Andrew Collard’s work in this issue!
As a special deal highlighting our contributors this month, we are offering 25% off our Magic Issue and Witness Memberships in our online shop when you type their name as a coupon code. $1 from every sale & tip jar donation this month with coupon codes will go to help first responders in the COVID-19 crisis. Add “ANDREW” to unlock savings today!
Author Bio: Andrew Collard is a PhD student and instructor at Western Michigan University. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Crazyhorse, and Nashville Review, among other journals. He currently lives in Grand Rapids, MI.