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Author Spotlight: Mike Soto


Buy: A Grave Is Given Supper by Mike Soto } Deep Vellum | July 2020 | ISBN: 9781646050109

 

What living poet/writer had the biggest influence on your book? 


I suppose that would have to be Alejandro Jodorowsky, someone who isn’t exactly a poet or writer. But his poetics, mostly as a filmmaker, gave me a narrative arc and a sensibility by which to shape the poems I was writing––that of the Acid Western.


Can you talk about your use of form and theory? 


I often told myself, when the poetry wasn’t happening in a poem, that I hadn’t made the right mistake. Meaning, I hadn’t found a way to slip past my own conventions into language that was doing something…unforeseen. So I would say mistake-making was a kind of theory for me. I’m sure someone somewhere has written extensively about this subject, but mistake-making, for me, is a way to tap into the subconscious, into the depths of something more dangerous, mischievous, or even erotic. Something that feels like a trespass. Something more interesting than a mere description of reality. An essential transgression. 

What are some key themes present in your book? 


The book is about the converging paths of two lovers, Topito and Consuelo, who meet in El Sumidero, a bordertown inundated with violence and corruption. So in a way, this book is very much about impossible love; how the journey for a better life sometimes means crossing the threshold between virtue and vice, love and loss; and how this is also entwined with a spiritual journey. 


The book also taps into the more syncretic forms of faith. Folk-saints like Jesus Malverde (featured on the cover art) and Santa Muerte loom large in the book as icons of the criminal underworld, but more so because they represent the ingenuity of marginalized communities to reinvent their faith. A practice that traces back to people of Mesoamerica maintaining their beliefs in the face of colonization. 


What is your current obsession? Short lines, slant rhymes, couplets, trees, etc.


Ana Mendieta's Silueta series. The artwork of Beatriz González. Edward Said’s After the Last Sky is an amazing portrait of Palestinian life.   


What is poetry to you?

I’ll defer to the definition of poetry by Novalis: “Poetry is the original religion of mankind.”


What’s your favorite line(s) from your book? 


Currently: 

Scrape the dark dearly

enough, the Skinny Lady will dangle

her jeweled hand out for a kiss!



 

Mike Soto is a Mexican-American poet and translator. His debut collection of poetry, A Grave Is Given Supper, is described as a Narco Acid Western told in a series of interlinked poems, using themes from the ongoing drug war set in a fictional U.S./Mexico border town. It was adapted for the stage in a unique collaboration of literary theater with Teatro Dallas, with most recent performances in the ICE Factory Festival in New York in 2021. Isles of Firm Ground, his translation of Ignacio Ruiz-Pérez's poetry, was published by Deep Vellum/Phoneme in 2022.

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