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At The Corner of Fantasy and Main: Disneyland, Midlife and Churros

Newspaper article from my week in Alliance

“In the past when we’ve had artisan residents that bring in all sorts of instruments and they have been fantastic artists but Mr. Mason was just super personable,” said Grandview Elementary Principal Chris Bailey. “He was just so engaging. All he had was a note pad and all he did was talk about his travels and read his poems and the students just loved it. We’ve had some elaborate presentations but here was this guy that stood up there with his poems and he really resonated with them.

See the whole article by Kay Bakkehaug here: starherald.com/news/local/nebraska-state-poet-gives-local-students-lessons/article_51328048-9c3c-11ed-a42f-d75d07e7e948.html [There is a paywall, I can read the whole article with my phone but not on my laptop]

My Week in Alliance

It’s been a full, snowy, wonderful week in Alliance, Nebraska. I worked with 4th graders in three different grade schools and also was able to run out for readings at the Sidney Public Library and the Bridgeport Public Library. The week ended with a reading tonight in Alliance where a dozen of the 4th grade students joined me with poems they worked on this week. Thanks, Alliance Arts Council and Nebraska Arts Council for all you do to bring poetry around this great state!

4 Events Coming Up in the Panhandle

Next week, I’ll be in Alliance to work with 4th graders there, during which I’ll be doing readings around the area. Spread the word! (All times are Mountain Time)

  • Monday, 1/16, 6pm at the Sidney Public Library (1112 12th Ave, Sidney). 
  • Tuesday, 1/17, 5:30pm at the Bridgeport Public Library (722 Main St, Bridgeport).
  • Thursday, 1/19, 6pm at the Sioux County Public Library (182 W 3rd St, Harrison).
  • Friday, 1/20, 7pm at the Alliance High School Performing Arts Center (1450 Box Butte Ave, Alliance). This program is open to the public and tickets are available at Carnegie Arts Center, Redman’s Shoes or at the door.
 
And thank you, Alliance Arts Council and Nebraska Arts Council for making the programs in Alliance possible!

Read more at: https://alliancetimes.com/alliance-arts-council-to-host-state-poet/

2023 State Of The State Poet Address!

And now: Your 2023 State Of The State Poet Address. [Cue the trumpets!]

Hello, all! With just under 2 years left in my term as State Poet, I have to say how thrilled I am to be your poetry ambassador, visiting schools and communities to write poetry, listen to poetry, read poetry, and talk shop about poetry in schools, libraries, bars, theaters, street corners, coffee shops, living rooms, wherever you’ll have me.

In my project to participate in poetry events in all 93 Nebraska counties, I’m back to making progress (after an extended pandemic break) and have been honored to present at least once in 43 Nebraska counties so far. That leaves a lot to go, but as I made it to 31 counties during my first full year, I feel it’s going to happen (barring too many blizzards, ice storms, virus variants, and other such things).

This past year, I left my job leading the Nebraska Writers Collective (Who you should donate to RIGHT NOW as they are more amazing than ever) and am now working to make my living as a poet/speaker/etc.

How does that work? Good question… one I’ve been asking myself a lot. I’ve been granted time thanks to a fellowship from the Academy of American Poets which essentially pays me a salary for the next 6 months and I hope to extend that to, well, forever.

That time is being used to write, of course, but also to see if I can figure out this earning a living through commissioned poems, poetry readings, writing workshops, corporate trainings, book signings, giving talks, and more (both in Nebraska and around the country).

Over the past year, I’ve been commissioned to write several poems, facilitated a team building session for a board of trustees, appeared at schools, libraries, community events, and many others in Nebraska, California, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Washington. I hope for a lot more in 2023 so that I can keep doing the work I feel most talented at and excited by. So far, I have appearances lined up in about 10 Nebraska counties this spring as well as in Wyoming and Iowa.

Also this year, I published a new book: At The Corner of Fantasy and Main: Disneyland, Midlife and Churros from The Old Mill Press. What started as a project I wasn’t sure about turned into what might be my most meaningful book so far so I hope you’ll check it out: https://theoldmillpress.com/product/at-the-corner-of-fantasy-and-main-disneyland-midlife-and-churros/

As I move forward, please let me know if you would be interested in bringing me in, commissioning a poem, or know any agents, contacts at businesses, colleges, high schools, etc. who you’d recommend me to in Nebraska and beyond. I’ve thrown myself out into the universe this year and hope to make this work out.

And thank you to Humanities Nebraska, the Nebraska Arts Council, and the Nebraska Library Commission for making it possible for Nebraska to have a State Poet. Please follow and support them.

Here’s to a poetic 2023!

The Nebraska Poetry Pen Pal Program Kicks Off Nov 7-9!

As part of my 2022 Laureate Fellowship, I’ll be touring the Nebraska Panhandle with poets Zedeka Poindexter and Joe fromLongIsland next week, with stops in Valentine, Gordon, and Chadron. This program will visit high schools during the day and then host public events in the evenings, encouraging a dialogue through poetry.

Public events include:

  • Nov 7, 7pm show at the Valentine Public Library (324 N Main St)
  • Nov 8, 7pm show at the Gordon Theater (320 N Main St)         

All events take place with help from the Academy of American Poets and Humanities Nebraska.

Book Signing at Disneyana in Southern California

It was fun to finally meet my publisher in person at the Disneyana Show and Sale last weekend in Orange, CA. On top of meeting Dave Bossert, I also got to sit with author and historian Don Ballard as we signed books and chatted with folks dropping by The Old Mill Press table.

September Events and Readings

I’m excited for the readings I have these next few weeks! In addition to a few school and senior center visits, I’ll be at:

  • August 31, 7pm, I read with Lydia Kang at the Dundee Book Company. See details here.
  • September 8th, 5:30pm, I’m part of a panel discussion for the Nebraska Writers Collective’s screening of the documentary Louder Than a Bomb at Film Streams in Omaha. Here are THOSE details.
  • September 10th, 7pm, I am the featured poet for the Omaha Poetry Slam at the Benson Theatre.
  • September 11, 3pm, I get to read at the The Allegro Wolf Arts Center in Sutton, NE to promote my new book. See a few details here.
Matt Mason

Matt Mason is the Nebraska State Poet and was Executive Director of the Nebraska Writers Collective from 2009-2022. Through the US State Department, he has run workshops in Botswana, Romania, Nepal, and Belarus. Mason is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Nebraska Arts Council. His work can be found in The New York Times, on NPR’s Morning Edition, in American Life in Poetry, and more. Mason’s 4th book, At the Corner of Fantasy and Main: Disneyland, Midlife and Churros, was released by The Old Mill Press in 2022. Matt is based out of Omaha with his wife, the poet Sarah McKinstry-Brown, and daughters Sophia and Lucia.