cover image Wastoid


Mathias Svalina. Big Lucks (SPD, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (166p) ISBN 978-1-941985-90-8

Ambitious, sprawling, and absurd, Svalina (I Am a Very Successful Entrepreneur) delivers a tome of prose love poems in which a speaker and his lover attempt to depict, through shape-shifting and bizarre metaphors, love in all its vast expressions. In such a muddled universe, the speaker turns to language: “They know their love is ruinous, so they make, instead of love, comparisons.” Thus begins Svalina’s onslaught of poems, very loosely described as sonnets and more poetically as “an endless series of graves,” where upon climbing out of one, the speaker falls into another, ad infinitum, realizing: “I make everything utterly images.” He favors metaphor and amid a description of “earthquake weather, a rolodex of dust,” the speaker bemoans “dying with the inability to make similes.” Some poems feel like they were composed of a random assortment of disjunctive sentences. In others, the most successful pieces, Svalina carries an idea through to its conclusion, however disorienting. There is plenty of incongruity, silliness, and mystery throughout to keep most readers’ attention, but given the book’s length, the form grows stale and the notion that these are sonnets can seem a stretch. Svalina succeeds in creating a multilayered, surreal world, but there is the nagging sense that he wished to do more with the form than the form allowed. [em](Dec.) [/em]