I have been reading Mathias Svalina's chapbook slowly for the past week & a half. This has been difficult because this chapbook is so good you'll want to rush through it in one sitting. Luckily for me, NYC is filled with constant interruptions and I have had to grade over 60 papers *sigh*
Svalina's chapbook works so well because he masterfully subverts one of the most common and universal experiences which is to be a child engrossed in a game, but much like novel turned film, Battle Royale, a lot of these poems are tinged in darkness and have deep societal implications. A majority of fairy tales are rooted in violence and suffering and these prose poems explore a similar terrain. Svalina remakes our world by exposing what is often left unsaid or what lurks in the subtext. Svalina's writing ranges from simplistic to absurd and is always filled with wit, intelligence, and most importantly compassion.
Play is a chapbook that will make you smile and remember yourself enjoying the sport of game, but it will also leave you to examine the structures/ideologies which implicitly a/effect our interactions as humans. Play will make you think of innocence, youth, grace and clumsiness as we navigate our interior and exterior worlds.
Lessening The Blow
( for 2 or more players)
One child waits in the waiting room. Another
child sits in the well-lit room & speaks into the
microphone. The speakers in the waiting room dis-
tort the second child's voice into screeches. The first
child holds his head in the parentheses of his hands.
The second child continues speaking into the micro-
phone & in the waiting room the voice is indecipher-
Occasionally the light flickers. Mechanical beds
thrum on the other side of the double-doors & the
first child looks up to see if the door opens.
The second child must continue reading until he
reaches the end of the script. Then he drinks a plas-
tic cup of water & begins the script again.
The script begins: "Have hope. Have hope. Your
waiting is almost done."
Buy Play here
The poem formatting is off 'cause I cant get the spacings to set. Sorry.