On February 21, 2017, Pulitzer Prize–nominated poet Adrian Matejka visited Indianapolis’s Franklin Central High School as part of Indiana Humanities’ Novel Conversations Speakers Program. The program, which is sponsored by The Glick Fund, a fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, sends winners of the Indiana Authors Award to libraries, schools, museums, correctional facilities and other nonprofit organizations across the state. In this guest blog post, Franklin Central English teacher and Creative Writing Club sponsor Lisa Laker shares details about Matejka’s visit.
How cool is it to study a contemporary Indiana writer such as Adrian Matejka and then pick his brain for tricks of the trade in person? That’s exactly what my students were able to do during Mr. Matejka’s visit to Franklin Central High School, sponsored by Indiana Humanities’ generous Novel Conversations Speakers Program.
Mr. Matejka’s visit started with a special “author’s luncheon,” during which 20 talented young students were able to ask him about his process, inspiration and motivation for writing such diverse forms of poetry found in his collection of work. In the afternoon, Mr. Matejka shared his talents and insights during two creative-writing workshops. Lastly, more than 100 students, teachers, school board members, Indiana Department of Education representatives, community members—and even Mayor Joe Hogsett—attended a Novel Conversations meet-and-greet in our media center. Mr. Matejka and Mayor Hogsett achieved “rock star status” with the teen guests, who were inspired and eager to start writing. Selfies were taken! Twitter feeds were electrified! Poetry was celebrated!
Thank you, Indiana Humanities and The Glick Fund; without you, several hundred students would not have experienced the art of poetry through the voice of the poet himself. (I think many an adult also left the event invigorated and inspired by beautiful language put into verse). You helped us make lasting memories— memories through the humanities!
What the students said about Adrian Matejka:
“When he read the poems from [his book The Big Smoke, about boxer Jack Johnson], he read them with such a voice it sounded like the boxer himself was speaking to my classmates and me. The videos he showed us to further give us an image of the boxer’s life made the story even more interesting. . . . It was nice to hear him talk about the things he has learned while writing his poems. It inspired me even more to keep on writing.”—Moriah Morgan, freshman
“It was interesting to find out what it was like to be an author, and what the process [is] like when writing a book. . . . I enjoyed the stuff he told us a lot, because I felt like it would be able to help me in the future.”—Kasey Hacker, sophomore
“Not only was he very personable, he was also very interested in what was going on in my outside life such as college and my next step into the real world, and [he] gave me some great advice as we were talking. . . . When I got into class [I] was eager to add [to] my poems and to continue to expand on them, to make them better.”—Ellen Cobia, senior
Register to attend an INcoversation with Adrian Matejka on May 25.