This interview is terrific, I say this objectively as a person who once saw Mathias in a grocery store.
“I don’t remember a first poem I wrote, but I do remember the first time a poem affected me, physically struck me, as a reader. It was Blake’s “Tyger.” I was in maybe fourth grade and I remember feeling intensely creeped out by the poem. I don’t remember what the discussion of it was in class, whether we talked about it as a sense of evil or the devil or whatever, but I remember that feeling of being energized by the words, by the incantatory qualities. I remember wanting to read it over and over again, wanting to read it out loud.
Somehow I feel like I was always writing poems. (I have a pretty crappy memory, so things before, say, 2008 mostly all blur together.) My friend Forrest, whom I’ve known longer than any other friend, says that when I was in elementary school my goal was to be a writer. So I trust him. I’m one of those people who filled up composition notebook with poetic giblets throughout junior high and high school.
When I was a little kid, like four or five, I used to make a lot of books. One of them became a sort of family legend — I actually only know this because it was retold, I have no memory of it — because it was about people in a space ship going to Mars or outer space. I couldn’t, however, spell “ship,” and I spelled it with a “t.” So there were people riding the shit, the shit sailing through space, the shit landing on Mars, etc. I remember my family laughing a lot as they told this story. I’m sure that made some kind of impression on me that is still present in my writing.”
EVENING WILL COME: Rachel Gontijo Araujo, Brenda Hillman, Andrew Joron
TREMOLO: Brian Teare interviews Andrew Zawacki
THEY WILL SEW THE BLUE SAIL: Chris Martin, Dawn Lundy Martin, Mathias Svalina
THE PLEISTOCENE: A new audio interview with Brandon Shimoda
If you haven’t already, take a look at Tsering Wangmo Dhompa reading from her work My Rice Tastes Like the Lake on MEDIUM and Daniel Moysaenko’s review of Ariana Reines’s Mercury on FRIDAY FEATURE!
We have no idea how to stay cool, so we’re glad he does. Stay tuned.