I’m honored to have poems in a pair of great anthologies released this spring. One celebrates 20 years of The Backwaters Press and the other celebrates 150 years of Nebraska Poetry so, yeah, it’s kind of cool.
Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, 1867-2017
The first anthology of its scope, Nebraska Poetry encompasses 150 years of the state’s literary history, featuring 80-plus poets and more than 180 poems. This landmark collection includes poems by authors best known for their prose—like Willa Cather, Loren Eiseley, and Tillie Olsen—as well as some remarkable but relatively forgotten writers from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Among the contemporary writers, it includes poets of Nebraska’s renowned “second renaissance” along with a rich array of younger writers who are redefining what poetry from and about the state might represent. A broadly inclusive as well as diverse anthology, Nebraska Poetry celebrates the state’s brilliant contribution not only to Great Plains literature but to the broader traditions of American letters.
Watching the Perseids: The Backwaters Press Twentieth Anniversary Anthology
Watching the Perseids: The Backwaters Press Twentieth Anniversary Anthology features poems from BWP’s authors from the past 20 years. This anthology commemorates The Backwaters Press’s 20 years as a nonprofit literary publisher located in Omaha, Nebraska. Virtually every poet published by the press in its first two decades is represented here with two new, previously unpublished poems selected specifically for this volume.
Readings and Workshops
• A Pushcart Prize (2013 edition)
• 2 Nebraska Book Awards
• Finalist for the position of Nebraska State Poet (2013)
• Served as a Cultural Envoy for the U.S. State Department in Romania in 2015, Botswana in 2014, Nepal in 2010 and Belarus in 2008 through the U.S. Department of State. All four programs worked with young poets in those countries, centering on writing and performing as well as on contemporary American poetry and the poetry slam (you can see video of the final youth poetry slam in Belarus here).
• Over 200 publications in magazines and anthologies
• Published 2 full-length collections of poetry, 2013’s The Baby That Ate Cincinnati and Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know (The Backwaters Press, 2006), that won a Nebraska Book Award and was a Contemporary Poetry bestseller
• Run poetry programs for state universities and libraries in Bucharest, Romania; Gaborone, Botswana; Kathmandu, Nepal; Minsk, Belarus; Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa; Central Community College at their campuses in Columbus, Grand Island, and Hastings, NE; The College of Santa Fe, in Santa Fe, NM; Iowa State University; Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, NE; Mount Marty College in Yankton, SD; the University of California, Davis; the University of South Dakota; Wayne State College in Wayne, NE; and at many other colleges and universities as well as for dozens of high schools in Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri
• Presented with Pulitzer Prize winning authors Ted Kooser and Yusef Komunyakaa
• Worked with numerous libraries and arts organizations around the country, including Opera Omaha, the Joslyn Art Museum, the Anthology Reading Series in Phoenix, the Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival, and Festival of the Arts in Columbia, Missouri.
Mason earned his MA in Creative Writing from the University of California at Davis, then, of course, moved to Omaha where he now lives with his wonderful wife Sarah and baby daughters Sophia and Lucia. He edits PoetryMenu.com, a listing of every Nebraska poetry event (and, yes, there are a lot, see for yourself) and founded Morpo Press which, since 1997, has published 30 chapbooks and one book by up-and-coming local writers. New Michigan Press released his chapbook Mistranslating Neruda in 2003 and Lone Willow Press put out When The Bough Breaks in 2005. He founded and, from 2002-2014, ran the Omaha Healing Arts Center Poetry Slam (on the 2nd Saturday of every month) as well as the occasional reading series. Matt has read his poetry everywhere from behind the podiums of the Nebraska Book Festival to the stages of the National Poetry Slam as well as at universities, high schools, libraries, book stores, radio shows, prisons, state fairs, art museums, bars, ice cream parlors, and coffee shops across the country–and on three other continents.
Matt currently serves as Executive Director of Nebraska Writers Collective, festival coordinator for the Louder Than a Bomb: Omaha Youth Poetry Festival, past board president for the Nebraska Center for the Book, and consults for the Nebraska Arts Council for Nebraska’s Poetry Out Loud program (an NEA/Poetry Foundation program). He has served on the board of directors for the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association, the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards, Friends of the Omaha Public Library, and the Medusa Project.