Order NOW (also available as an audio book):
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: https://www.facebook.com/TishCoArts/videos/735963384833925
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: https://youtu.be/Hxgm4YmVgOQ
Enjoy the month, celebrate responsibly!
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.
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 – https://www.willacather.org/events/free-author-talk-nebraska-poetry-pen-pals…
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.
• 4/11, noon and 7pm: Teaching a writing workshop and doing a reading as part of the Kearney Public Library’s Poetry Series – https://kearney.events.mylibrary.digital/series?si=&sn=poetry
• 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.
• 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 – https://nce25.org/
• 6/2-4, Keynote speaker and featured poet at Wyoming Writers Inc.’s annual Writers Conference in Cheyenne.
Poetry matters to so much more than just artists and writers, so it’s a pleasure to talk poetry and business this week with Dean Rotbart on Monday Morning Radio. Listen in here for the full podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/making-poetry-and-profits-rhyme-how-matt-mason-aims/id536206924?i=1000602881282&fbclid=IwAR3XcmWdUVtCjT_VvkjudwSr-U02OeB_Cw9-iEtJ6IzLOjj5yyh4TK5xiaA
My poem “The Start” is featured on today’s Words In The Air podcast. Catch a 90-second read here:
(“The Start” is the one which was published in the New York Times after the January 6th insurrection)
“Poetry is the answer to that Socratic statement that ‘the unexamined life is not worth living,’ because what’s at the heart of poetry is examination of life.”
Read the full interview at: https://poets.org/text/poets-laureate-fellows-interviews-matt-mason
“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]
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!
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 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.
Here’s to a poetic 2023!
Support Matt through Patreon at:
And buy his 4th book, At the Corner of Fantasy and Main: Disneyland, Midlife and Churros from The Old Mill Press: https://theoldmillpress.com/product/at-the-corner-of-fantasy-and-main/
Matt Mason is the Nebraska State Poet and has run poetry workshops in Botswana, Romania, Nepal, and Belarus for the U.S. State Department. His poetry has appeared in The New York Times and Matt has received a Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Nebraska Arts Council. His work can be found in Rattle, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, and in hundreds of other publications. Mason’s 5th book, Rock Stars, was published by Button Poetry in September of this year.