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Adrian Matejka

Poet Laureate of Indiana 2019

Adrian Matejka was born in Nuremburg, Germany in 1971 and grew up in California and Indiana. He received a BA from Indiana University in 1995 and an MFA from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in 2001.

He is the author of Somebody Else Sold the World (Penguin, 2021),a finalist for the 2022 UNT Rilke Prize; Map to the Stars (Penguin, 2017); The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013), which won the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; Mixology (Penguin, 2009), which was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series; and The Devil’s Garden (Alice James Books, 2003), which received the 2002 New York/New England Book Award.

Matejka is also the author of the mixed-media collaboration with visual artists Nicholas Galanin and Kevin Neireiter, Standing on the Verge & Maggot Brain (Third Man Books, 2021) and the graphic novel Last on His Feet (Liveright, 2022).

Matejka’s poetry is known for its inventive, often multidisciplinary exploration of identity and cultural history. Rodney Jones writes, “Adrian Matejka plays the language like a horn, with a cool inventiveness and bravura phrasing, yet his poems are as notable for their humanity as their flourishes and riffs at the borders of expression. His singular gift is to write outside the usual habits of communication and yet to deliver again and again the inside story, the testament of a life.”

In an interview with Barely South Review, he cites the poet Yusef Komunyakaa as an influence: “He was like an emcee—or maybe more appropriately, a jazz soloist. When I heard him read, I knew I wanted to write poems.”

Matejka is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Bellagio Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, the Lannan Foundation, and United States Artists, among others. In 2018, Matejka was named one of the twelve inaugural guest editors of Poem-a-Day. That same year, he was appointed state poet laureate of Indiana. In 2019, Matejka received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship and a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he is Ruth Lilly Professor of English. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

Adrian Matejka
photo credit: Stephen Sproull
Poet Laureate Project