with Matt Mason:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Matt: I started writing in high school. Even though I didn’t like the poetry we were studying, I found the form was perfect for saying what mattered to me. My first influences were probably Roger Waters with a little Robert Frost thrown in.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Matt: Probably all the poets I didn’t feel inspired by in high school… Keats and Coleridge along with current writers like Patricia Smith and Denise Duhamel.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and that influenced my writing by the way folks around me talked, saying really interesting and profound things using understandable phrasing that emphasized bringing in a listener.
Travel has been a big part of my life. I used to work at a job until I had enough money in the bank, then quit and drive around the country until I needed to go back home and get another job. As a result, I have a manuscript in the works about road trips and I just had a book accepted for publication that’s a collection of poems about Disneyland.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Matt: I know it sounds weird, but it’s probably the manuscript I just finished about Disneyland. It started with Disneyland but went on to be more about the scope of my life, midlife, my parents passing away, and more.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Matt: I was in Des Moines, Iowa at a reading by Galway Kinnell where the way he read the poem “Oatmeal” showed me that the kind of poems I write, which I wasn’t finding in books and anthologies, are legitimate.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Matt: Driving around Nebraska to talk about poetry with people (students, adults, poets).
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Matt: My most recent book, I Have A Poem The Size of the Moon, came out during the pandemic and I haven’t been able to even have the book launch yet. I’m excited to spend the next year doing readings from it. Once the world settles enough to start scheduling said readings…
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
Matt: I’m terrible at this (No, that’s not a line from a poem), so I’m going to deflect by giving a line I like from poet John G. Neihardt: “Poetry, in its highest moments, is an emotional approximation of the inexpressible…”
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Matt: Other poets. I still see myself as someone learning, so when I meet poets on the level of a peer, it’s still amazing. So poets like Debra Marquart, JV Brummels, Saddiq Dzukogi, and more have, even in small, kind ways, made such a huge difference.
Nebraska State Poet, 2019-2023