Mathias Svalina

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Day 44: Portland, OR. I’m back home! 

9213 miles

The van and I have finally made it full circle. We’ve arrived back home in Portland, and the tour is officially over. I am so lucky to have had the chance to spend so much of this summer in the van with Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Mathias Svalina, John Beer, Jane Lewty, Amy Lawless, Cecily Iddings, and the 30-some other poets who were able to read with us along the way. I am so proud and happy to have been able to read poems in that many places, with so many great poets. Thank you. 

Before I started the trip, I chose to buy this old 1989 Chevy conversation van instead of renting a little car, a gamble that ended up paying off. It didn’t give us any trouble at all. I’ve fallen in love with the blue machine, and I hate the idea of parting with it. But I just can’t afford to keep it. Along the way, I treated it with new tires, a new muffler, a new thermostat, a radiator flush, and consistent oil changes and top-offs. If any of you are interested in buying this van so dear to my heart, and the hearts of a few other poets, please email me an offer. 

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Kyle Vegter is my friend, a talented Chicago-based musician and multi-media artist, and one of the brilliant minds behind Manual Cinema, the shadow-puppetry troupe that put on all those performances of Fjords last year. He and I are working together on a little project where I overhear someone talking on a bluetooth device and text him some of the snippets from that conversation, and then he has to immediately write those snippets down on whatever paper is available to him and compose something musically, right then and there, using that exact text. We’ll perform these compositions in Chicago at  Constellation on July 19 along with other musicians, yet to be announced, during my poetry book tour with Joshua Marie Wilkinson and Mathias Svalina this summer.

These are four of the texts so far. Also, I took this photo of him. 

Together with the other editors of Octopus Books, Mathias Svalina, Alisa Heinzman, and Hajara Quinn, I read a few pieces of poems out the books we’ve published from the April open reading periods of the recent past. Can you recognize these books from the tops of their open covers? We made this little video to remind you that you have a week left to submit, and to also check out the books we’ve already chosen and published.


We made a longer 2 minute version reading different excepts here, if you just can’t get enough reminders.