Mathieu Cailler's inspiration for the title of his latest book of poetry, “Catacombs of the Heart,” came as he thought about the heart as a repository for all the things that happen to people, the happy events and the sad ones.
“The heart is always there, through every moment, beating like a second hand," the Palos Verdes Estates resident said.
The award-winning author said he tried to fill the page with those sort of occurrences—ones that made him smile and ones that were painful.
"In many ways," said Cailler, "poetry can be a sort of journal, written in stanzas.”
"Catacombs of the Heart" explores topics such as second chances, technology and "the overall din of daily life," according to Cailler.
It's those small moments such as a child's smile that can get lost in prose, said Cailler. But, in poetic verse, "that flash gets to shine as bright as anything."
Cailler said he tries to write poems for people who hate poetry. And, often, people connect with his poems, he said.
“Too often people think of poetry as something in a turtleneck and tweed blazer," he said. "But, I want it to be wearing a T-shirt and jeans.”
Cailler has spent most of his life in Palos Verdes where he started writing jokes as a 13 year old who wanted to become a stand-up comic. He studied philosophy, and fell in love with writing again when he took a creative writing class.
He was teaching elementary school in the inner-city and getting a master's degree at LMU, but his job was eliminated during budget cuts since he didn't have tenure. He then applied to the Vermont College of Fine Arts where he studied writing.
Aside from his work being published in numerous magazines and other publications, he published the poetry books, “Shhh” and “Clotheslines” in 2014, the short story book “Loss Angeles” in 2015, and another book of poetry in 2017 titled “May I Have This Dance?”
Cailler was awarded the Short Story of America Prize for Short Fiction and a Shakespeare Award for Poetry, as well as poetry winner of the New England Book Festival.
In 2018, Cailler published his first children's book “The (Unappreciated) Life of Humphrey Hawley,” about a beetle who dreams of becoming an adored ladybug. The book was nominated for a Caldecott Medal and the Newbery Award.
His second children's book, “Hi, I'm Night,” is expected to be published in the summer.
“It's a legend told from the perspective of a woman named Night,” Cailler said. “She is writing children a letter, how darkness came to be and why it is important.”
For more information, visit mathieucailler.com.