10+ QUESTIONS! WITH mario alejandro ariza

by Laurin Macios | June 2016

Mario Alejandro Ariza was featured at Mass Poetry's second U35 reading in June 2014. // 10+ Questions! is a new series in which we catch up with poets who have been featured in our programming.

It's been two years. What's new in life?
Left teaching job in Boston for an MFA program in Miami. Got a dog. Have started running long distances. Am making less money and more happiness. Am surrounded by loving family and friends. Started Volunteering in prisons as a creative writing teacher. Feel like I made a good choice.

What are you working on these days?
I’m working on my own book of poems and a translation of a book of 1970’s Dominican poetry. They are vastly different projects but both are thematically related to the Island where i was born.

Is your poetry different now than it was then, and if so, in what ways?
I would hope its better / makes more sense / is more surprising / active / alive / easier / harder to read.

Who/what are you reading lately?
Re-reading Luis Cernuda. Margaret Ross. Solmaz Sharrif. Kai + Anders Wee. Kaveh Ackbar. Lots of Dominican / Caribbean academic texts and historiography.

Any major publications, readings, etc. we should know about?
Got a poem into Gulfcoast, and I got into an MFA program, so I guess that has to count for something, right?


What’s your favorite animal & why?
My dog Olive. She’s a perfect lady until she sees a squirrel, and then she’s a vicious predator.

Beach or mountain?
Beach.  Mountains are nice but I’m from the Caribbean.

Are you a good dancer?
Only if it’s merengue, Otherwise I have several left feet

What’s a word you hate?
Palimpsest. If I had a 20$ bill for every time I read that word in a poem I could pay my rent.


Alternate Poem to the one found in Antonio Machado’s Pocket immediately after his death in Paris:
February 22nd, 1939.

“Estos días azules y este sol de infancia.”


Darío wheezed tears for Ameríca Centrál
                                            onto the frozen flagstones of Lavapiés,
              Tubercular in Madrid, insólito
for Nicaragua and earthquake    and plátanos and love,  murió.

Felicidad had been an ocean that met mine
                                             but wouldn’t mix, and now this war
               deeper than hell has driven us all like mad geese
from home. Oh yes life was swollen rivers

once mud drunk rich as kings and as
                                            cold. If in Paris ice and grave
               growl open,  if in Soria the hearth is still hot, caminante:
vaya, open up the casements,    let go of all the warm love

from these blue days, and this infant sun.