Nebraska State Poet Matt Mason – Finding Creative Ways to Serve

Nebraska Access, Arts, Community Vitality, Education, Fine Arts, Government, Humanities, Statewide

When Matt Mason was named Nebraska State Poet in January 2019, he couldn’t have imagined how the landscape of that position would change in 2020. Mason, serving a five-year term, had been traveling and giving presentations, readings, and leading workshops and many other venues in rural and urban communities across the state prior to the Covid-19 shutdowns.

Fast forward to today, and Mason has been forced, like all of us, to modify his plans and find new, creative ways to reach across the state and share poetry and literature in ways he hadn’t considered before.  Mason has read poetry on NET Radio Live and online for the National Willa Cather Center.  The Kimball County Visitor Center featured his video poem and the Nebraska Arts Council’s Studio Clips: Meet Nebraska’s Artists also featured a poetry reading by Mason.

Facebook Live with Humanities Nebraska at Home provided a platform for Mason as did a virtual reading for the Norfolk Library.  Mason led a Zoom workshop for the Warrior Writers of Omaha and Lincoln and presented an online writing workshop for NWC’s State poet series.  He also was emcee for an Opera Omaha virtual poetry and music event.  These events, along with many others, have allowed Mason to interact with Nebraskans throughout the state. A full list of Matt’s many activities as Nebraska’s State Poet can be found below.

Mason will be speaking at his first public event since March at an outdoor event at the Neihardt Center on Sunday, August 2nd for the 55th Annual Neihardt Day.

Unchanged is Matt’s goal as Nebraska State Poet to “get to the different counties, to the Air Force Base, to different crowds and bring entertaining poetry as well as remind everyone of the poets already there in their communities.”  The way he does that may have adapted, but the heart and soul he puts into his work remains the same.


The Nebraska State Poet (NSP) is selected every five years through a collaborative process by Humanities Nebraska (HN), Nebraska Arts Council (NAC) and Nebraska Library Commission. Funds from the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, HN and NAC support many of the NSP’s activities across the state.

Matt Mason is the Executive Director of the Nebraska Writers Collective.  Mason was the recipient of the Pushcart Prize for his poem “Notes For My Daughter Against Chasing Storms”.  He is the author of two award winning poetry collections.  Mason has represented Nebraska on six teams at the National Poetry Slam and has represented the United States in Romania Nepal, Botswana and Belarus.


Mason’s Activities as Nebraska State Poet

1/11/19, Lincoln HS, Bring and introduce Albuquerque Poet Laureate Manuel Gonzalez and Sarita Gonzalez
1/11/19, Hastings College, bring and introduce Manuel and Sarita Gonzalez
1/15/19, Imaginary Gardens reading w/ Nebraska Presence authors
1/21/19, Judge for the Living The Dream Music and Poetry High School Competition by City of Omaha
1/23/19, Skype appearance for Freeburg Community HS, Freeburg IL for Poetry Out Loud talk, Erin Asher teacher
1/30/19, Interview w/ Omaha World-Herald, Micahe Mertes, article “Gov. Ricketts names Omaha native as Nebraska’s new state poet” published 1/31/19
2/1/19, Read at Midwest Poetry Vibe, Omaha
2/5/19, Read to 3 classes at Omaha Bryan HS
2/6/19, Present to Creighton Prep Creative Writing
2/7/19, Present at Arts Advocacy Day at Nebraska Capitol
2/7/19, Interviewed by NET Radio in Lincoln
2/7/19, Emcee the Omaha Public Library Story Slam event with Santa Clara County Poet Laureate Mike McGee
2/9/19, Elkhorn Library, bring and introduce Mike McGee
2/9/19, Omaha Poetry Slam, bring and introduce Mike McGee as well as read myself
2/13/19, Present to 6th graders at Johnson Crossing Academic Center, Fremont
2/14/19, Interview for KZUM show “Story Strong” with Annie Bohling
2/25/19, State Poet Installation Ceremony, NE State Capitol, Lincoln
2/26/19, Douglas County Board Meeting, proclamation by board honoring me
2/27/19, Bryan Middle School, present to 8th graders
2/28/19, Interview with Edge Magazine
3/2/19, Reading at Gallery 1516, Omaha
3/4/19, Interview with Monday Morning Radio podcast, Dean Rotbart
3/5/19, Performance at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution
3/5/19, Perform at Reverse Poetry Slam LTAB event at UNL, Lincoln
3/6/19, Visit to Millard North HS after-school writing club
3/10/19, Emcee Poetry Out Loud State Finals at Sheldon Museum in Lincoln
3/13/19, Interview w/ Omaha World-Herald, Erin Grace article: “Grace: Raise a glass to the Irish legacy of words and poetry” published 3/15/19
3/14/19, Honored guest at Desmond Egan poetry reading for members of the Neihardt Foundation Board
3/15/19, Field report for Poetry in Rural Spaces conference at NEA offices in Washington, DC
3/16/19, Read at Jim Cavanaugh’s 5th Annual Omaha-Douglas County Irish American Public Officials’ St. Patrick’s Day Awards Brunch
3/18/19, Emcee for LTAB event at Sun Theatre, Gothenburg
3/19/19, Introduce Film Streams showing of Pariah, Omaha w/ Celie Knudson
3/19/19, Interview w/ Stuart Chittenden for Squishtalk podcast
3/24/19, Emcee for LTAB event at UNL, Lincoln
3/27/19, Read and lead a workshop at Ralston High School
4/2/19, Present to the Golden Circle Kiwanis Club, Omaha
4/2/19, Emcee for LTAB event at UNO, Omaha
4/5/19, Present to Omaha Central English class
4/5/19, Present at Westside Elementary School, Norfolk
4/6/19, Present at Nebraska Warrior Writer group, Cather Library, Omaha
4/7/19, Emcee for Opera Omaha ONE Fest poetry and music event
4/8/19, Present to Neihardt Elementary, Omaha
4/12/19, Speak at Humanities Nebraska Board Member event w/ Twyla Hanson, Union for Contemporary Art, Omaha
4/13/19, York College, reading and workshop
4/13/19, Hastings, Plainsong magazine release at The Lark
4/20/19, Omaha, read and emcee event at Bookworm with high school poets
4/22/19, Interview w/ Michael Scott, Mind & Soul 101.3 FM
4/24/19, Present at Pius X high school, Lincoln
4/25/19, Present to OPS Middle School gifted student poetry slam, Benson B-Side
4/25/19, Introduce the LTAB Finals at the Holland Center
4/29/19, Washington Elementary, Omaha
4/30/19, St. Margaret Mary School, Omaha
5/1-2, 8-9/19, Hot Shops, ESU3 Workshops w/ Middle School students, Omaha
5/3/19, Poetry of Place, State Capitol, Lincoln
5/10/19, Liberty Elementary, Omaha
5/11/19, Grand Marshal, Florence Days Parade
5/11/19, Present at the Florence Mill
5/15/19, NCompass Live webinar for NE Library Commission
5/16/19, Pinot, Pigs & Poets fundraiser, Happy Hollow, Omaha
5/18/19, Indigo Bridge Books, Lincoln
5/20/19, The Cabin, North Omaha Commercial Club meeting
5/22/19, Florence Kiwanis Club meeting, Mormon Trails Center
5/23/19, Emcee StorySlam for OPL at The Sydney
6/1/19, NAC Statewise Arts Conference, workshop and reading
6/2-4/19, NCIA/MATC Sovereign Native Youth STEM Leadership Academy
6/11/19, Imaginary Gardens Reading at Mr. Toad’s with Sarah McKinstry-Brown
6/12/19, Read for Jump Start Program at Omaha South HS
6/26/19, Speak at First National Bank Intern Conference
7/5/19, Read at John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, California
7/15/19, Read for UNL Young Writers Camp
7/15/19, Interview for NET Friday Live EXTRA podcast
7/25/19, NAC Statewise Arts Conference, workshop and reading, Scottsbluff
7/26/19, Read at Laura Lee’s Double L Country Store and Café, Harrisburg
7/27/19, Read in Bushnell w/ Deb Carpenter Nolting and Tim Nolting
7/28/19, Read at Colonial Acres Nursing Home, Humboldt
8/8/19, Read at Post Script, Ashland
8/15/19, Speaker as part of the Poetry Out Loud Kickoff video at NAC
8/15/19, Read for Arrows To Aerospace at Bellevue Public Library
8/22/19, Read at The B-Side of Benson Theatre, poetry and music event
8/23/19, Read at OEAA Showcase, B-Side of Benson Theatre
9/6/19, Speaker at San Jose Christian School, Junior High, California
9/6/19, Read as part of the San Jose Poetry Festival, California
9/11/19, Speaker at Skutt Catholic HS, Omaha
9/13/19, Host for opening night of the Omaha Lit Fest
9/14/19, Read at Signal Poetry Festival, Ames, Iowa
9/17/19, Read for the Eclectic Book Review Club, Omaha
9/19/19, Host the OPL StorySlam at The Sydney, Omaha
9/21/19, Talk to donors for Lincoln Arts Festival, Lincoln Arts Council
9/22/19, Read for Ames Reading, Bennett Martin Library, Lincoln
9/23/19, Read for Front Porch Reading Series, Kearney
9/24/19, Talk to CW class at UNK, Kearney
9/28/19, Feature at Gratitude Café in Lincoln
9/29/19, Read at Decatur Museum, Decatur
10/15/19, Read for The Nature Conservency’s Harvest Festival
10/16/19, Read for and emcee NWC Coach Showcase at The Capitol District
10/17/19, Run writing workshop for youth at Benson branch OPL
10/18/19, Read to/discuss poetry with classes at CB Abraham Lincoln HS, IA
10/19/19, Guest reader for Barnes & Noble Omaha kids’ Poetry Storytime
10/20/19, Read for/emcee UNO Gerontology Poetry Across Generations
10/24/19, Read at Neligh Public Library
10/25/19, Present for Omaha NaNoWriMo group
10/30/19, Read at NECC, Norfolk
11/1/19, Present at Read Aloud Nebraska conference, Seward
11/2/19, The Nebraska Writers Guild annual poetry retreat, Ponca State Park
11/4/19, Host Reading at Council Bluffs Public Library, Iowa
11/9/19, Emcee Nebraska Book Awards award presentations
11/10/19, Speak at Neihardt Foundation Laureate’s Feast
11/12/19, Speak for Alma Public Schools
11/12/19, Read at Jenson Memorial Library, Minden
11/13/19, Run Workshops for Alma Public Schools
11/14/19, Speak for ESU 11 schools at The Tassel, Holdrege
11/14/19, Read at The Tassel, Holdrege
11/15/19, Speak for Cambridge Schools
11/16/19, Read and run poetry slam for Hastings Cultural Connect at First Street Brewery
11/17/19, Talk at SAC Museum Author Expo, Ashland
11/21/19, Speak to 2 Creative Writing classes at Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln HS
11/21/19, Read as part of poetry show at OM Center, Omaha
12/1/19, Read for Midtown Neighborhood Alliance/Council of Garden Clubs event at Crook House, Omaha
12/3/19, Present for North Omaha Writers, Florence Library, Omaha
12/4/19, Read at Bone Creek Museum, David City
12/5/19, Present to classes at High Plains HS and MS in Polk, NE
12/5/19, Present to an assembly at High Plains elementary in Clarks, NE
12/10/19, Read at the Logan County Library in Stapleton
12/11-12/19, Read to 1 class each day at Creighton Prep HS
12/16/19, East Butler HS, Brainard
1/8/20, Introduce Texas poet Joaquin Zihuatanejo at El Museo Latino
1/13/20, Reading for Elba Public School
1/14/20, Readings for Broken Bow MS and HS
1/14/20, Reading at Broken Bow Public Library
1/15/20, Read at Lincoln Correctional Center poetry slam
1/21/20, Read for a class at Omaha Bryan HS
1/23/20, Interviewed for NET Radio’s All About Books
2/8/20, Introduce Ohio Poet Scott Woods at Florence Branch Library, Omaha
2/14/20, Read at Gallery 1516 in Omaha
2/15/20, Read at the Bemis, Birds of a Feather event
2/17/20, Speak at Hastings College: Scholastic Awards ceremony
2/21/20, Present at NSLA Conference in Kearney
2/27/20, Read at the Joslyn Art Museum’s Framing the Flame: Art That Ignites event
3/2/20, Read at Keene Library, Fremont
3/3/20, Present at Bieroc Café, McCook
3/4/20, Read at Dundy County Library, Benkelman
3/4-5/20, Present at McCook HS
3/6/20, Help w/ Creative Writing class at Omaha Central HS
3/8/20, Emcee the Nebraska Poetry Out Loud finals in Lincoln
3/9/20, Read for the Copper Kettle reading group, Lincoln (last in-person reading of this list)
3/27/20, 3 Poems on NET Radio’s Friday LIVE
4/6/20, Read online for the National Willa Cather Center:
4/6/20, Video poem featured by Kimball County Visitor Center:
4/13/20, Video poetry reading for Nebraska Arts Council’s Studio Clips: Meet Nebraska Artists:
4/14/20, Part of Opera Omaha Zoom event, Poetry & Music Project Opera in Conversation
4/16/20, Video reading for Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff:
4/24/20, Humanities Nebraska, Humanities at Home talk on Facebook Live:
5/1/20, Read 4 poems on NET Radio’s Friday Live:
5/2/20, Led Zoom workshop for Warrior Writers, Omaha and Lincoln groups
5/11/20, On 101.3FM Michael & Michelle in the Morning show
5/15, 5/22, 5/29, and 6/5, Introduce poets Rachel McKibbens, Katie F-S, Kwame Dawes, and JV Brummels for online NWC Zoom poetry writing workshops
5/17/20, Emcee Opera Omaha virtual Poetry and Music event
5/20/20, Start work on NEA grant review panel
6/16/20, Virtual reading for Norfolk Public Library
6/23/20, Run online writing workshop for the NWC’s State Poet series:
6/24-26/2020, Introduce poets Christine Stewart, Huascar Medina, and Debra Marquart for online NWC Zoom State Poets Laureate poetry writing workshops