Monday, February 25, 2008

Poet of the week (A new feature)

I don't know if this will stick, but since my fascination with certain poets is revolving, I thought maybe it would be nice to throw a name out there from the time to time, and then tell you where you can buy books and read poems.

This week: Mathias Svalina...why? Because the guy rules, that's why. He's the physical incarnation of a snow day. He's your new favorite bar. He's finding Ramones and Costello L.P.'s at the same garage sale.

I've started reading a lot of Svalina in the days after AWP. A few of his "Creation Myths," were in Handsome, some more were in Tarpaulin Sky, and then I just went ahead and bought the book from New Michigan Press (you should too, just go to, click on the chapbooks link and do a wee bit of scrolling, no big whoop).

Here's what kills me about his poems...Svalina manages to share head space with an 8 year-old kid who is able to have complex thougts, but hasn't yet learned to express them out loud, and as such, is made to find slightly round-about ways of letting you on. In this way, his creation myths share the function of ALL creation myths...a simple explanation for the things we have no explanation for.

Here is a taste:

Creation Myth

There was a big puddle of honey & millions of ants surrounded
the puddle & after the ants came the mice whose faces grew
sticky with honey, honey dripping from their long whiskers
& after the mice came the dogs who lapped at the honey until
their fur was matted & coated with honey & after the dogs
came the bears who spooned up big handfuls of honey with
their stony paws & after the bears came the humans but by
then all the honey had been eaten.

The humans stood in the spot where the honey puddle had been
& looked at each other & cried. One of them invented speaking
& they all complained about how much they were looking
forward to the honey & one of them invented the plough &
they built a farm on the spot where the honey puddle had been
& one of them invented guns & they went out into the world
& shot all the mice, dogs & bears.

The ants watched all of this from their anthill. They patted
their swollen bellies. They laughed at the humans & their
complicated objects. They passed bowls of honey around the
crowd & drank deep of the honey & passed out from too much
honey. So they did not see the humans inventing a new kind of
ant that feeds on honey-eating ants.

Once the ant-eating ants ate all the ants they turned on the
humans & ate all the humans. Once the ant-eating ants ate
all the humans they turned on each other & ate each other.

Eventually there was only one ant-eating ant alive, the only
creature alive in the world. He returned to the spot where the
honey puddle had been, sat down & watched the sunset over
the foothills & then ate his own thorax.

Now that you've been properly convinced go and visit Mathias' blog where you can find all things related to Mathias. That's here:

Thus ends our first weekly poet profile...I'll get better at this as I go, I hope.

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