If you see a guy on a bicycle riding around Richmond in the middle of the night, dropping off dreams on people’s doorsteps, don’t be alarmed.
It’s just a dream delivery service.
And Mathias Svalina, 41, is the dream deliveryman.
Svalina is a poet who’s returning to Richmond to deliver dreams by hand in the middle of the night. The dreams are surrealist, prose poems that cover everything from drinking a beer with actor Tom Skerritt to knitting a complicated sweater.
“I try to write a unique dream for everybody every day,” Svalina said from his temporary digs in Oregon Hill. “On a good day, I can write up to 40 dreams a day. Then I deliver them from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.”
Svalina is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s creative writing program and the author of five books of poetry, including “Destruction Myth” from Cleveland State University Poetry Center and “Wastoid” from Big Luck Books.
After leaving Richmond, he eventually settled in Colorado where he taught creative writing and poetry. But over the past few years, he grew disillusioned with teaching and began looking for other ways to make a living as an artist. Specifically, as a poet.
“Poetry is a nice art form, but it’s not a very lucrative one,” Svalina said.
That’s where the Dream Delivery Service comes in.
For the past two years, Svalina has been spending the summers of his adjunct teaching job delivering dreams in the early hours of the morning around Denver. His Dream Delivery Service was featured on Colorado Public Radio and literary websites. This past fall, he decided to quit his teaching gig to take his Dream Delivery Service on the road.
He’ll be delivering dreams in the Richmond area through Oct. 25.
For $40, subscribers get a new dream every day for a month. Nightmares cost $3.75 extra per month.
The service kicked off with a “Dream-in” at Chop Suey Books last month when visitors were encouraged to submit their dreams for a group reading and to be included in a chapbook called “The Big Book of Richmond Dreams.”
Now, every morning around 1 or 2 a.m., Svalina hops on his bike to deliver dreams in a 25- to 40-mile radius around town.
He already has subscribers in the Fan, Church Hill, Oregon Hill and North Side.
“I’m like some bizarre Christmas elf, delivering dreams to people’s doors,” Svalina said. “Some of the people who sign up are people who I know. Others are complete strangers.”
“If I wrote a poem every day, no one would identify with it,” Svalina explained. “But because it’s a dream, there’s an identification there.”
And it’s a way to make a living as a poet.
After Richmond, the Dream Delivery Service will take off for stops in Tucson, Ariz.; New Orleans; and Chicago. Svalina hopes to continue touring through 2017.