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(Neb)-Governor Names New State Poet

By: John Axtell Posted at: 01/30/2019 07:55 PM
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Matt Mason of Omaha has been chosen as Nebraska's next State Poet. The appointment was announced Wednesday by Governor Pete Ricketts to complete a selection process led by the Nebraska Arts Council, Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Library Commission.

        The 50-year old Mason received the 2013 Pushcart Prize - which honors the best "poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot" published in the small presses over the previous year - and has received two Nebraska Book Awards.

      Governor Ricketts says Mason continues a continual line of talented authors and poets rom Willa Cather to Ted Kooser and "will help celebrate Nebraska and bring our state together around our shared love of the Good Life."
      Described as a "poetry activist," Mason says poetry and poetry advocacy have been his life's real project, so being honored like this is "amazing and humbling." Mason hopes to go to other communities around the state and do readings with authors there. to both bring entertaining poetry ands remind everyone of the poets  in their communities."

      Mason is executive director of the Nebraska Writers Collective, through which he has run the Louder Than a Bomb: Great Plains youth poetry festival each year since 2011, and edits PoetryMenu.com, a listing of every poetry event in the state of Nebraska.

     Mason is a former board president of the Nebraska Center for the Book and has served as the Nebraska State Coordinator for Poetry Out Loud, a Poetry Foundation/National Education Association program.

       He is also a competitive poet and has represented Nebraska as a member of six teams at the National Poetry Slam.
     In his poems, Mason has written about fatherhood, relationships, religion and the Bible, and themes of Midwest and Great Plains life. Mason's early work gave him a reputation as a humorous poet, but he has written drama, and tragedy

     As Nebraska State Poet, Mason will serve a five-year renewable term as an advocate for poetry, literacy, and literature in Nebraska.  His duties will include giving public presentations and readings, leading workshops and discussions, and providing other outreach in schools, libraries, literary festivals, and various venues in rural and urban communities throughout the state.

     The position of Nebraska Poet Laureate was established in 1921 when John G. Neihardt, whose most famous work includes “Black Elk Speaks” and “Cycle of the West,” was appointed by the Legislature.

        In 1982, William Kloefkorn was appointed as Nebraska State Poet by Governor Charles Thone.  Kloefkorn served as State Poet for 29 years until his death in May 2011.  Twyla M. Hansen, winner of two Nebraska Book Awards and co-director of the website, “Poetry from the Plains: A Nebraska Perspective,” served from 2013-2018.

    To learn more about Matt Mason, visit his website at matt.midverse.com or his official page at the Humanities Nebraska website by clicking here.  For information about hosting the state poet with the Nebraska Arts Council’s “Presenting the State Poet” grants, visit artscouncil.nebraska.gov or contact the office at (402) 595-2122.


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