In Conversation With U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón at the NCE’s 25th Anniversary

I had the pleasure of leading an on-stage conversation with Ada Limón and Nebraska Poetry Out Loud champion Amelia Escalante. This was all part of celebrating the Nebraska Cultural Endowment’s 25th anniversary! (Photos by Ben Semisch).

The Nebraska Cultural Endowment does a great deal to help Artists and audiences in Nebraska. They are the first and only cultural endowment in the nation to sustain both arts and humanities through privately-supported and publicly-matched funds.

At the Corner of Fantasy and Main is winning awards!

I’m thrilled to announce that At the Corner of Fantasy and Main: Disneyland, Midlife and Churros has won Silver (top 3) in the Independent Book Publishers Association awards this year! It’s an honor to be recognized in the Poetry category, and I’m more grateful than I could ever express to The Old Mill Press for believing in this collection.

The book ALSO won recognition being shortlisted for the Eric Hoffer Book Awards (meaning it’s in the top 10% of entries, though did not win the top prize).

Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way!

I’m incredibly proud of this book and grateful to see this kind of recognition coming in for it.

Happy National Poetry Month!

Two of my favorite arts groups are posting a video poem every day this month in celebration of National Poetry Month and both posted poems of mine today. Check out my poems and all the others through the end of April.

Mississippi’s wonderful Tishomingo Arts Council shared “Song For Tishomingo” through their Facebook page:

And The Prairie Art Brothers of Kearney shared “Ode to Fourth Graders,” dedicated to the students I worked with a few weeks back in Alliance, Nebraska:

Enjoy the month, celebrate responsibly!

The 3rd Pen Pal Poets Tour is Back from Southern Nebraska

In a wild 3 days, the Nebraska Pen Pal Poets Program brought Colleen O’Doherty, Fernando Montejano and me to BDS Middle School in Davenport, Lawrence/Nelson schools, Fairbury HS/Junior High, and Thayer Central High School in Hebron while also doing readings at the Red Cloud Opera House and at the Blue Bison in Hebron.

It was a whirlwind trip which got great student response as we talked poetry, playwriting, screenwriting, science fiction and so much more.

Colleen, now in Chicago, is mainly doing playwriting but kept students entertained with poems like a love poem for chocolate, a persona poem from the point of view of the mother of a school shooter, and more. Fernando put on his rocket boots and riled up students (in a good way) with all sorts of poems about the bad things we do as kids, love for science fiction, and so many good things.

It was an honor to share the stage with them at the Red Cloud Opera House, thanks to the National Willa Cather Center. We also saw the windy landscapes of south-central Nebraska and got some great food recommendations from students (who always say “Runza” but also pointed us to places like RWs in Davenport).

I’m grateful to support from Humanities Nebraska, and everything made possible by the Academy of American Poets with funds from the Mellon Foundation. The more programs like this that we can bring out to audiences in Nebraska, the better a place to live we’ll have.

Event and Appearance Dates, March 29-June 4:

I’m thrilled to have a number of appearances these next couple months, with even more in the works!

• With Colleen O’Doherty and Fernando Montejano 3/29-31 at Lawrence-Nelson Secondary School in Nelson, Bruning-Davenport Middle School in Davenport, Fairbury Jr. Sr. High School, and Thayer Central High School in Hebron and these 2 public events:

o 3/30, 7pm: Reading at the Red Cloud Opera House for the National Willa Cather Center

o 3/31, 3:30pm: And appearing at the Blue Bison in Hebron.

• 4/1, 7pm: Reading at The Lark in Hastings for the release of the newest issue of Plainsongs.

• Appearing at Central Community College in Grand Island and Columbus on 4/3 and 4.

• 4/6-8, One of the featured poets at the Poetry Palooza! in Des Moines –

• 4/11, noon and 7pm: Teaching a writing workshop and doing a reading as part of the Kearney Public Library’s Poetry Series –

• Appearing at Marian High School on 4/14.

• Appearing at Summerland High School on 4/24.

• Working with students from Platteview Central Jr. High on 4/26.

• 4/26, 6:30pm: Emceeing the NEA Big Read Slam Poetry Event at the Norfolk Arts Center.

• Teaching workshops at House of Hope Assisted Living and at Pacific Springs starting in May.

• Appearing at South Platte Schools in Big Springs on 5/2.

• Appearing at Disney Elementary in Omaha on 5/4.

• 5/12, 4pm: Reading a poem at the Nebraska Writing Project’s Poetry of Place celebration at the Nebraska State Capitol.

• 5/18, 7pm: Appearing at the Nebraska Cultural Endowment’s 25th Anniversary Celebration featuring US Poet Laureate Ada Limón at the Holland Performing Arts Center –

• 6/2-4, Keynote speaker and featured poet at Wyoming Writers Inc.’s annual Writers Conference in Cheyenne.

Thank you, Humanities Nebraska, Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Mellon Foundation, and more for making events like these possible.

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: [There is a paywall, I can read the whole article with my phone but not on my laptop]