Every morning, poet Mathias Svalina rises early to bicycle around the city he’s visiting to drop off dream poems to subscribers. He reads a poem he wrote for Morning Edition listeners.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
You know, you can pretty much get anything delivered these days – coffee pods, ink toner, ramen noodles and now poetry. Subscribe to his service and Mathias Svalina will write you a poem every day for a month and deliver it to your doorstep each morning by bicycle.
MATHIAS SVALINA: I try to write a unique poem for each subscriber every day. I like the idea of building an intimate relationship with the reader over the course of a month.
GREENE: We caught up with Svalina in Austin, Texas. He moves to a different city each month. And to get his poems out before dawn, the peddling poet gets up at 3 in the morning. This month, he is riding 35 miles.
SVALINA: The streets are empty. My headlamp is illuminating little bits of the street. And I bike from house to house and apartment building to condo, walk up to the front door and leave a little pink envelope in people’s doors.
GREENE: And we’re talking about personalized stuff here. Every poem is written for the person who subscribes to his delivery service, people who have found him on the Internet or maybe through word of mouth. Most he has never met. Svalina calls his works dream poems. They feel like a stream of consciousness.
SVALINA: So I’ve published five books of poems. And those, I spend years sometimes editing and reworking and trying to meticulously get correct. These dreams, I write as quickly as I can. And then they usually escape my memory almost immediately. And they’re ephemeral. And they’re not mine. They belong to whoever subscribed them.
GREENE: As for subscribing, he charges $45 for a month of poems. Of course, he wrote one for us for no charge.
SVALINA: When you fit a key into a nonsense newspaper, the newspaper falls apart into dust. When you fit a key into a normal newspaper, a bit of light fills the dark tunnel that you’re in. You realize it’s not a tunnel at all but a home you recognize on a street you recognize in the neighborhood in which you live.
GREENE: I kind of like that. That is door-to-door poet Mathias Svalina.