News

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

Coverage in this month’s Omaha Magazine

“As reflected in his works, Matt Mason isn’t one for the vagaries of the self-serious and doctrinaire. Nor is he blasé about expression. Inspiration doesn’t ‘flow’ during his workshops, but settles into a clear pool; ideas aren’t swept away, but visibly ripple from each pen.

“Mason leads the Nebraska Poetry Pen Pal program, an initiative supported by the Academy of American Poets and Humanities Nebraska designed to ‘start conversations between poets from different parts of the state with varied backgrounds.’ His goal is straightforward enough: to organize at least one poetry event in each of Nebraska’s 93 contiguous counties.”

Read more at: omahamagazine.com/magazine/iamb-iamb-iamb-mat-mason-and-the-lyrical-heart-of-nebraska-poetry/

Back to School

In addition to going out to new Nebraska counties, I’m always looking to return to places… like this photo where I went back for the first time to my old grade school in Omaha!

I’m also traveling as we finish National Poetry Month, with trips to Elwood, Hayes Center and Bartlett (all first-time visits as State Poet) and a return trip to home-away-from-home McCook, where there’s a public event Thursday, April 25th at 6pm at Pour Farm, 416 Norris Ave.

Wherever you are, I hope to see you soon!

IT IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH (celebrate responsibly)!

I look to be all over the state this month, so come out! Whatever you do, put a little poetry into your life this month:

April 7th, 2pm: I’m reading for The Schoolhouse Art Gallery (427 Main Street in Brownville).  After the program we have refreshments. The reading is themed as: “In the Woods: Poems about trees and nature.”

April 9th, 6pm: I’m the opening act for Charlie Peck, releasing his new book “The World’s Largest Ball of Paint” at The Bookworm Bookstore (2501 S 90th St). See all the details at: www.bookwormomaha.com/event/charlie-peck-will-read-worlds-largest-ball-paint-%E2%80%94-matt-mason

April 13th, 1-2 and 2:30-3:30pm: I’m leading a poetry writing workshop and doing a reading at Espressions: Coffee and Community (1117 M St, Aurora). 1-2 is a writing workshop in the back room. It costs $10, please register in advance. 2:30-3:30 is a free reading and Q&A. See details, including registration info at: www.facebook.com/events/926624455599748

April 18th, 12-1:30 and 7-8pm: I’ll lead a workshop and do a reading at the Kearney Public Library (2020 1st Ave, Kearney). The workshop (with lunch!) costs $15 and you can register here: kearney.events.mylibrary.digital/event?id=60116. The reading is free and has more info right here: kearney.events.mylibrary.digital/event?id=60117.

April 25, 3-3:45pm: I’ll be reading and answering questions at an Elwood Public Schools assembly which is open to the public (502 1st Ave, Elwood).

April 25th, TBA: A reading in McCook!

April 27th, 7pm: I’m part of Delights and Shadows: A Tribute to Nebraska Poet Ted Kooser at The Church Reformed Art Space (3101 S 20th St, Omaha). A director from the Omaha Playhouse will direct actors in dramatic readings from Kooser’s collection at this free event.

I’ll also be doing other events like running a few writing groups, reading for a conference in Grand Island, a Lincoln Rotary meeting, and appearing at Marian High School, St. Augustine Indian Mission, Macy Public Schools, Waverly Middle School, and Hayes Center Public Schools.

New Poem Commissions

I believe poems should reach people, tell them a story, coax people to feel them AND understand them. Yes, they can be complicated; yes, there can be more underneath, but, first, I want my poems to be about communication.

It’s an honor to be commissioned, recently, to write for organizations I’m a fan of like the Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center and Humanities Nebraska who not only help me to write something I’m proud of but display them so beautifully.

Thanks, too, Kearney Public Library, Legal Aid of Nebraska, American Job Center of Lancaster and Saunders Counties, and others who brought me in to write poems last year–and to a few coming up these next few months which I’m working on now!

The Front Page of Today’s World-Herald is Taken Over by Poetry!

Today’s Omaha World-Herald has a great new article about my project to bring at least one poetry event to every county in Nebraska. You can read it here:

https://omaha.com/news/state-regional/its-all-poetry-nebraska-state-poet-seeks-to-bring-craft-to-every-nebraska-county/article_0917f93e-c51f-11ee-bc3d-4b33dd5b6fbf.html

Counties Visited, 2019-2023

Update on my State Poet Project (with one year left)

Okay, world: with 1 year left as State Poet I’m looking for some help.

Not just for the counties in white (which are the ones I haven’t presented in yet), I’m always looking for opportunities to talk to any schools, run a corporate training/team building with poetry, write a commissioned poem and more (and in all counties, not just the ones I haven’t reached yet, even in other states and countries).

So if you can connect me, I’d be grateful. Grants from the Nebraska Arts Council and Humanities Nebraska make it particularly easy to have me brought in.

As for my project to reach every county in Nebraska with at least 1 poetry event, I’m close! 2 scheduled, 2 close to being scheduled, and 10 that I’ve contacted and not yet found a way to do a reading or workshop or something else with poetry there.

What helps most is if you’re able to reach out to someone you know. Me cold-calling doesn’t work well as poets are scary. (Not really, we tend to be quite nice, but many people are unsure of poetry)

In any case, here is the updated map as we near the end of 2023!

Poem Videos from At the Corner of Fantasy and Main

I was in Anaheim on a trip to present for the Disneyland Alumni Club and recorded videos of me reading poems from At the Corner of Fantasy and Main: Disneyland, Midlife and Churros. It may not be the next Disney+ hit, but it was fun doing quick recordings around the Park. I’ll be adding one or two for the next few weeks to the YouTube Playlist here.

Pick up the whole book here from The Old Mill Press: https://bit.ly/3MGfwzd

Book Description:

At The Corner of Fantasy and Main is about more than Disneyland, midlife, and churros. It’s about how our heart is sometimes more reliable than our memory and how places that are touchstones in our lives stay with us in ways that don’t always seem to make sense. And, well, it’s about Disneyland, midlife, and churros.

Ready or Not, Let’s November…

Though April is National Poetry Month, October is always a great month for poetry for some reason, kind of “Poetry Month, Part 2.” This year, I roamed from Kansas City to Lynch, spent a week in Dunning and Halsey with trips to Scratchtown in Ord and Anthem in Thedford.

In addition to readings and workshops, I also gave a talk on American poetry in the 1920s, which was a blast. I’ve always been fascinated by that decade as it seems like that’s where American poetry turned away from an emotional focus to an intellectual puzzle, so, of course, I thought I hated it. Turns out, I still sort of hate it but am now much more fascinated by how Ezra Pound was a poetry kingmaker (and a jerk) whose poetics I admire but whose influence I abhor. So, you know, I learned things.

And November! We go back to the classic sports commercial and the announcer asks: “Matt Mason, you’ve had a full month of poetry, what are you going to do now?” The answer is, of course:

November 4: 1-3:30pm (Pacific Time), I’m speaking to the Disneyland Alumni Club at their monthly meeting in Huntington Beach, California.

November 7 and 14: 1-2:30pm, I’ll be running two more writing workshops at the Exeter Senior Center thanks to the Nebraska Arts Council’s Creative Aging Arts Program.

November 7: 7-8:30pm, I’ll be reading with students at the Grand Island High School Little Theater (as well as working with students for a few days).

November 12: 5-9pm, I’ll be emceeing the John G. Neihardt Foundation’s Laureate’s Feast and Auction at A View On State (13467 State St, Omaha). Jonis Agee and 2023 Nebraska Youth Poet Laureate Aliyah American Horse will be presenting! For tickets and more information, see neihardtcenter.org.

November 14: 7-8pm, I’m reading at a Prairie Art Brothers event at the Frank Museum of History & Culture, 2010 University Drive, West Campus of the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

November 19: 2-4pm, I read at the Crete Public Library (1515 Forest Ave, Crete).

I’ll also be with writing groups, doing visits for The Nebraska Arts Council’s Poetry Out Loud program as well as visits with Fort Calhoun Elementary, Ralston Schools, Zoom visits ranging from Fairbury High to St. Cyril of Jerusalem School in LA, and more!

Thank you to all who support me on Patreon, buy and review my books, refer schools to look me up, any little bit of support is a big help.

October’s Event Schedule and September Recap

I have a new monthly email you can subscribe to where I get out news and event information for the events I’ll be part of. Sign up now at: http://eepurl.com/ivdcRI

And, holy cow, September has been outstanding. Trying to make a living as a poet isn’t easy but has been profoundly rewarding in the people I’m meeting and the experiences I’m invited to be part of. September has been a whirlwind, with trips from northern Nebraska to Marceline, MO to the Nebraska panhandle to the Black Hills and back.

Work like this takes a lot of support and belief from others, so I’m grateful for Newman Grove Public Schools, Humanities Nebraska, the Hartington and Niobrara Public Libraries, Mount Marty University, the National Association of State Arts Agencies, Pierce Public Schools, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, Alliance Public Schools, Arthur County Schools, the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Mullen Public Schools, the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center, the Mullen Arts Center, the Nebraska Poetry Society, and the South Dakota Humanities Council for making these kinds of events happen. (And: thank you, Sarah!)

And here’s what’s coming for October, with trips to Central Nebraska, Kansas City, and more:

October 1: 1-4pm, Start the month at Raymond Central High School (In the Mustang Room,1800 W. Agnew Rd, Raymond NE). It’s free and open to the public, with a reading, Q&A, and a writing workshop: https://www.facebook.com/events/328116633043900/

October 6: 5-8pm, Legal Aid of Nebraska commissioned me to write a poem for their 60th Anniversary Celebration. I’ll read it at that event, find information and tickets here: https://fundraise.givesmart.com/e/oHRhoQ

October 7, 14, 21, and 28: POSTPONED: online writing workshop through the Larksong Writers Place. https://larksongwritersplace.org/

October 8: 1-2:30pm, I’ll be teaching a free writing workshop with the Castle & Cathedral District and Metropolitan Community College’s 14th annual Art & Literary Festival. This event is at Cali Commons (518 N 40th St, Omaha) and registration is required as space is limited: https://joslyncastle.com/events/special-events/art-and-literary-festival-2023.html

October 10: 6pm, I read in Central Nebraska at Anthem Coffee (39295 NE-2, Thedford NE)

October 11: I read at Scratchtown Brewing Company (141 South 16th, Ord NE): https://www.facebook.com/events/616126060641775/

October 13: 7pm, I’ll see YOU, Northeast Nebraska, with a reading at the Lynch Public Library (423 Hoffman St, Lynch NE)

October 14: 6-7pm, I’ll be reading with Michelle Troxclair and Devel Crisp as part of the Castle & Cathedral District and Metropolitan Community College’s 14th annual Art & Literary Festival at the Joslyn Castle (3902 Davenport St, Omaha). It’s free! https://joslyncastle.com/events/special-events/art-and-literary-festival-2023.html

October 19 and 22: 6-7pm, I’m giving a talk on “The 1920s, How It Ruined Poetry For The Rest Of Us” for the Castle & Cathedral District and Metropolitan Community College’s 14th annual Art & Literary Festival at the Joslyn Castle (3902 Davenport St, Omaha). Come on down for this free event: https://joslyncastle.com/events/special-events/art-and-literary-festival-2023.html

October 20: 7pm, tell your KC friends! I head down to Kansas City to read in The Writers Place Reading Series featuring Alarie Tennille, Wayne Courtois, and me at The Writers Place at Nonprofit Village, 31 W 31st ST, Kansas City MO: https://thewritersplace.wildapricot.org/

October 21: And I stick around in KC for Pageturner, a great fundraiser for The New Territory magazine at The Hayloft at Lifted Spirits Distillery (1734 Cherry St, East Crossroads, Kansas City MO). It runs 4-8pm, tickets are $80-$110 at: https://newterritorymag.com/events/pageturner2023/

October 27: I’m working on an event in Lincoln, details coming soon here and on my State Poet Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NeSP3

September Readings Schedule

The big news: Rock Stars comes out September 5th! If you haven’t bought a copy for yourself and 12 for the neighbors, you can get it straight from the press here: https://buttonpoetry.com/product/rock-stars/

I’ll be reading from it in Omaha that same night at the Florence Mill (see below). Also coming up are a lot of appearances, both virtual and in-person, including appearances at the South Dakota Festival of Books and the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, it’s an exciting month!

September’s Public Poetry Events

(All times Central unless otherwise noted)

9/5: 7pm, Rock Stars Book Release at The Florence Mill (9102 N 30th St, Omaha NE 68112)

9/6: 7-8pm, Featured on Dr. Andy’s Poetry and Technology Hour on KDVS UC Davis, https://www.poetrytechnology.com/

9/7: 6pm, Read at the Schuyler Public Library (108 E. 18th Street, Schuyler NE 68661)

9/8: Noon-1pm, Humanities Nebraska’s Curiosity Connections online discussion, https://humanitiesnebraska.org/event/curiosity-connections-with-nebraska-state-poet-matt-mason/

9/12: 5pm, Read at the Hartington Public Library (106 S. Broadway, Hartington NE 68739)

9/13: Noon, read at Mount Marty University in Yankton, SD (South Dining Room)

9/13: 5pm, Read at the Niobrara Public Library (25414 Park Ave, Niobrara NE 68760)

9/16: Read at the Walt Disney Hometown Museum 2023 Dreaming Tree Gala, Marceline MO, https://www.waltdisneymuseum.org/events

9/19: 5:30pm Mountain (6:30 Central) writing workshop, 7pm Mountain (8pm Central) reading at the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center (908Yellowstone Ave, Alliance NE 69301)

9/20: 6pm Mountain (7 Central), reading at the Mullen Arts Center (109 NW 1st St, Mullen NE 69152) with Lyn Messersmith

9/22-24: Featured Writer at the South Dakota Festival of Books, Deadwood, SD, https://sdhumanities.org/festival-of-books/

9/23: 10am, online Writing Workshop with the Nebraska Poetry Society, https://www.nepoetrysociety.org/workshops

Also, I’m appearing at Pacific Springs in Omaha, Newman Grove Schools, Pierce High School, Alliance High School, Arthur County Schools, Mullen Public High School, the Exeter Public Library and a few more.