October 15, 2008

Review by Josh Wallaert

by Mathias Svalina

New Michigan Press
648 Crescent NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
ISBN: 978-0-9791501-9-7
37 pp., $8.00

“In the beginning there was a pen that drew itself into existence.”

Thus opens Mathias Svalina’s Creation Myths, a chapbook of twenty-four alluring prose poems, or “myths,” that posit the origins of twenty-four alternate worlds. “In the beginning everyone looked like Larry Bird / but everyone did not have the name Larry Bird / & this was confusing,” according to one poem. “In the beginning the only job was unwrapping the mummy,” later on.

The idea that a poem might write itself into being is an old one. This is the concept that animates Daffy Duck in Duck Amuck, or Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, or even, you might say, the Book of Genesis itself. It is especially familiar to poets, who spend their earthly days calling forth objects from the void. Svalina knows what it’s like to play the Creator:

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