On May 25, we hosted Indianapolis native and Pulitzer Prize nominee Adrian Matejka for a conversation and book launch of his new volume of poetry, Map to the Stars. We were thrilled to hear him read from his new collection and talk with Adrian about his work and life.
Our minds expanded over the course of the evening. Here are four things we’ll be musing over:
- Compiling the sounds of earth is maybe the greatest curatorial project of all time. In 1977 NASA asked Carl Sagan to compile a golden record encapsulating life on earth to send out on the Voyager space probe. Sounds of Earth consists of nineteen sound categories—including the heartbeat of creative director Ann Druyan, who fell in love with Sagan during the project—and greetings from earth in 55 different languages. Adrian riffs on this remarkable human enterprise in the middle section of Map to the Stars.
- Indy literature could use a few more middle fingers. Adrian called Map to the Stars a metaphorical double middle finger to anyone not from Indianapolis. He references places and lore as if the reader does and should already know it—the way writers allude to the geography of New York, Chicago or London. Why not Indianapolis, too?
- If you’re ready to tackle the extensive discography of Sun Ra, start with Fate in a Pleasant Mood. The avant-garde jazz musician, who claimed to have traveled from Saturn to spread a message of peace, was also a pioneer of Afrofuturism. Hit play on this Sun Ra playlist while you read the 1994 essay by Mark Dery that first coined the term Afrofuturism.
- The journey from Section 8 housing to the suburbs is as vast and improbable as any space voyage. We’re fortunate to have an adept poet like Adrian Matejka charting the known and unknown geographies of this particular corner of terra firma. No wonder we named a star after him!
Thank you to Indy Reads Books for hosting us and to Sun King Brewing for donating libations. We hope to see you at future Quantum Leap events, including an adult field trip to Mooresville’s Link Observatory in July and INconversation with experimental game designer Tracy Fullerton in August.