mathias svalina

5 Questions with Mathias Svalina (by Madeline Farr)

1. How has your writing style and/or perspective on writing changed since the publication of Destruction Myth?

Destruction Myth was the beginning of a set of books & manuscripts I’ve written in a serially absurd mode, with repetitive, obsessive forms: business plans, instructions for children’s games, spells, biographies, etc. So in that sense some of my writing is in that style still. When I read from it, though, I find myself confused by D-Myth’s sentences. I connect with the process & content of the book, but don’t quite get those sentences. I like it. It reminds me of how I’m not me, which is what I’ve always aspired to be.

Destruction Myth was my first book published book. I started it when I was 30, which seems young to me now. At the time of writing it a primary goal was publishing a book. Now my perspective is maybe closer to what it was before I ever thought of publishing books, back when I was a teenager writing in marbled-covered notebooks: to write & try to make my mind & life into something worth reading, to engage with friends the only way that felt genuine, to attempt an asymptote, etc.

2. What are you working on right now?

I’m super excited about the upcoming books for Octopus Books, a press for which I work: Amy Lawless’s Broadax, Dan Hoy’s Deathbed Editions, & a book of Tristan Tzara translated by Heather Streckfus-Green. Zachary Schomburg & I are in the nascent stage of planning a month-long bike trip of readings & Octopus events along the west coast in March of 2016, so I’m trying to figure out how that will work. I’m editing a feature for The Volta on Insect Poetics, which I’m giddy about. I’m trying to devise an interesting free community writing workshop/thingy in Denver for December.

Writing-wise, I have two books coming out next year: The Wine-Dark Sea from Sidebrow, & a collaboration with the photographer Jon Pack called The Depression from Civil Coping Mechanisms. I am working on final edits for those. I’m actively in the middle of writing two books of poetry, Thank You Terror & The Crushing Pain of Existence. And I’m trying to write a novel, which is really, really hard for me.

Today I am going to pull the weeds from my mom’s back yard & when I get back to Denver I’m going to pull weeds at the new Counterpath Books space. And in general I’m still trying to fix my mind, figure out how to live, etc.

3. What poet (contemporary or of the past) should we all be reading?

Read Marisol Limon Martinez’s new book VIA DISSIMULATA, which Octopus recently published. You will be a better person after reading it.

4. What is your advice for young writers?

Do young writers need advice? Perhaps the notion of old writers advising young writers is the opposite of what’s needed & perpetuates specious & becrusting modes of authority & control. Old writers like me should shut up & listen to young writers more. So maybe my advice for young writers is to tell old writers to shut up. Do with art what makes you feel more usefully human. But don’t listen to me telling you that.

5. Where/when do you like to write, or do your best writing?

I write pretty consistently & prolifically, then trash about 70-90% of what I write. So I like to write as much as I can, wherever & however I can. But in the last year or two my writing I’ve liked the most has emerged in its first drafts when I’m in motion, travelling or in interstitial spaces between other events or biking around town or lost. I like myself more when I am in motion & I think I like what I write more when I like myself. I’m not certain how to ascertain that, though.