The Kimball County Visitor Center asked me to write this poem about Nebraska’s highest point. See the video they made here:
I’m honored to be the cover story in the February issue of the Lincoln Journal Star’s L Magazine. Read all the goodness here:
My years at Santa Clara mean a great deal to me and to my writing, so I’m honored to have this article about me published in Santa Clara Magazine.
I took a class from a visiting Georgetown professor, Ed Ingebretsen, whose love of poetry was infectious. He showed me how to read poetry and love it.
And I had a poetry writing class with Ed Kleinschmidt where he told me, who’d written maybe a few dozen poems at that point, we would turn in 10 poems over the next 10 weeks. I didn’t think it was possible for me to write that much. I wrote probably 15 poems as I found myself searching for poems instead of waiting for them to find me. I’ve kept that weekly deadline ever since. For the past 29 years, good or bad, I’ve had to write a new poem by Monday night.
As State Poet, my goal is to bring a poetry program to every Nebraska county during my 5-year term. The map here hangs on my refrigerator and shows all 93 counties. The ones marked in pink are where I’ve been so far.
I’d love to do multiple events in counties as the real goal is to share poetry in as many communities around Nebraska as I can. My hope, too, is to involve other poets where possible. Last week in Decatur, I was happy to meet local poet Charlie Schmidt. Charlie let me share 3 of his poems to start the reading off!
So if you’re somewhere around Nebraska, I want to get to your neighborhood. Contact me so we can make it happen.
Here is video of the installation ceremony at the State Capitol this morning with my introduction by Twyla Hansen, Nebraska State Poet 2013-18 (0:00-2:05), followed by remarks (2:06-7:58) and then the Reign of Terror (and other poems (7:59-the end))
I’m excited to announce I’ve been selected as the new Nebraska State Poet.
The most profound honor for me is knowing Humanities Nebraska, the Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska Library Commission as well as a board of people I greatly admire as voices for literacy and creativity in the state chose me as State Poet.
Though I wasn’t able to make the announcement until this evening, the selection was made official earlier in the week, and I’m proud to say that my first day as official State Poet had me hosting Albuquerque Poet Laureate Manuel González and his daughter, Sarita Sol González, who was named by Juan Felipe Herrera as “Youth Poet Laureate.” We spent yesterday at Lincoln High School and Hastings College, where Manuel and Sarita brought their poems and their vibrant presence to great audiences. (Thanks, also, to the anonymous stranger who stopped to help me change a flat tire along the interstate so I could get Manuel and Sarita safely to Hastings!)
Since moving back to my home state in 1995, it’s been my goal to create opportunities which weren’t here for writers when I was coming up. I started PoetryMenu.Com in 2000, the OM Center Poetry Slam in 2002, open mics, Morpo Press (which published chapbooks by local poets), festivals like the Great Plains Poetry Pile Up, reading series which paired experienced poets with young writers, and my work with the Nebraska Writers Collective and the Louder Than a Bomb: Great Plains Youth Poetry Festival. Through my work as State Poet, I plan to continue and expand this mission over the next five years in communities around the state.
Yes, there will be a party. Yes, there will be cake.
Thank you, Twyla M. Hansen (Nebraska State Poet 2013-2018); thank you, Sarah McKinstry-Brown; thanks Sophia and Lucia, I am grateful for your support.
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.