Foreword – Matt Mason

When we set out to create an issue with the theme of The New: Poetry we readied our horses
and prepared to set off in search of giants to destroy, despite the sneaking suspicion that some of
them looked a fair amount like windmills.  Poetry, after all, comes in waves, with each
generation pushing off against the previous generation, often circling back through similar
movements and similar reactions as the years go by.

So where, in that, are we to find today’s The New:?  We called for submissions of what others
saw as The New: in their own work and received a hell of a response ranging from wonderful
collage poems, story poems, punch-in-the-gut poems, family poems, geography poems, and on
and on and on.

What strung together the ones which stuck out most to us were a sense of simple language
making extraordinary connections between worlds.  This, in itself, is not the most new thing,
perhaps; but the sense of calm as surprises surface says something about wonder, about poetry,
relationships, McDonalds, Bogart movies, and on and on, saying how this is a damn amazing
world where we are not waving our hands and shouting “Look! Look!” but standing back with a
smile, watching that whole truth and beauty, beauty truth thing comes up across the horizon like
a run-on sentence made of light itself.

So what does that mean?  What is this New Poetry thing?  Simple: read through every wonderful
entry in this collection; this, on some slight level, should start to give you the idea of what we

A Bit About Matt Mason

New Photo

Matt Mason’s new book, The Baby That Ate Cincinnati, is due out in spring, 2013 from
Stephen F. Austin State University Press. Matt has won a Pushcart Prize and 2 Nebraska
Book Awards (for Poetry in 2007 and Anthology in 2006); organized and run poetry
programming with the U.S. Department of State in Kathmandu, Nepal and Minsk,
Belarus; and been on 5 teams at the National Poetry Slam. He edits, a
listing of every Nebraska poetry event. He is Executive Director of the Nebraska Writers
Collective and Festival Director of the Louder Than a Bomb: Omaha Youth Poetry. His
website is

A Little Q & A with Matt Mason

What is one of your favorite lines of poetry?

“Once it seemed the function of poetry
was to redeem our lives.
But it was not. It was to become
indistinguishable from them.”

-from “Old Ice” by Brenda Hillman

What is one of your favorite books of poetry?

Just one? Then I’ll keep on with Brenda: Bright Existence by Brenda Hillman. Though
you could also do with Insomnia Diary by Bob Hicok; Crazy Horse in Stillness by
William Heyen; Kinky by Denise Duhamel; Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and
Other Poems by John Keats, and… I’ll stop here for now.

Why is poetry important?

Poetry is important because it does more than just tell a story or get an idea across. A
good poem touches the whole body, makes you feel things as a way to make you
understand them. So it asks you to process information in a number of ways so, when
done right, opens up doors in a reader that nothing else can.

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