The Wine-Dark Sea

The Wine-Dark Sea by Mathias Svalina
6 in x 8 in
76 pages

Poetry by Mathias Svalina

“I want
what the date wants
from its box,
printed in lip.

The concerto
cast a morning
beneath bridges
where ropes dangle.

I cannot stand
inside myself.

What emerged
when I opened my mouth
was a thanking tomb.

So we tremble.
Do we tremble?

We tremble.”

In a clear-cut voice “as simple as ink,” Mathias Svalina’s The Wine-Dark Sea vocalizes the urge to write oneself alive. Through this lyric journal of taut poems, each titled “The Wine-Dark Sea,” Svalina breathes life into overlooked places: the driveway a car turns into at the end of a workday, how a tree holds the dirt, the edge of a page on which “I’d always assumed / I’d die alone.” Every poem is a baffled drop, a pulse trying not to be dead, and beneath the spine of each sentence, Svalina hides, carrying us, seeking an exit. It is impossible not to be stained by The Wine-Dark Sea.

“His latest may be a heavy book, but, for anyone who’s ever made ‘an undetectable/ plea,’ it’s one worth carrying.” Publishers Weekly

“Svalina’s speaker tears at coverings to unveil what is inside, and he discovers that what is inside is ripping those insides apart.” —Katie Hibner, Queen Mob's Teahouse

“In many ways this book is an objectivist answer to a world dominated by abstract images. In many other ways, this book is a contemporary expressionism allowing the author to scream in staggered breaths and let out (reveal) a precious humanity, no matter what the cost.”—Greg Bem, Berfois

“Svalina’s work ... embodies the exposure of that which we take for granted, the information lost in the imperfect nature of communication, and the novelty and significance of seeing the world through another’s eyes.” —John Venegas, Angel City Review

Cover art by Josh Keyes


Mathias Svalina was born in Chicago. He is the author of Wastoid (Big Lucks Books, 2014), The Explosions (Subito Press, 2012), I Am a Very Productive Entrepreneur (Mud Luscious Press, 2011) and Destruction Myths (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2009). He is an editor for Octopus Books & teaches writing in Denver, Colorado.

Sample Pages