Arts Commission announces Adrian Matejka as new Indiana State Poet Laureate

IAC-Press Release

December 11, 2017


Rex Van Zant

Director of Marketing and Communications


Arts Commission announces Adrian Matejka as new Indiana State Poet Laureate

(Indianapolis, Indiana) The Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) announced today the selection of Adrian Matejka (Mah-TEE-kuh), Bloomington, Indiana, as the new Indiana State Poet Laureate.

Matejka was born in Nuremburg, Germany and grew up in California and Indiana. He is a graduate of Pike High School in Indianapolis, Indiana University Bloomington, and the MFA program at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He is the Ruth Lilly Professor / Poet-in-Residence at Indiana University in Bloomington.

He is the author of The Devil's Garden (Alice James Books, 2003) which won the New York / New England Award, and Mixology (Penguin, 2009), a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series. Mixology was also a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. His third collection, The Big Smoke (Penguin, 20013) was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award and 2014 Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book, Map to the Stars, is set in Indianapolis in the 1980s and was published by Penguin in March 2017.

Matejka is currently working on a new collection of poems, Hearing Damage, and a graphic novel.

"It is an unbelievable honor to be selected as the sixth Poet Laureate of Indiana and to have the opportunity to give back to the great state that has given me so much," Matejka said. "I can't imagine Mr. Dickerson and Mr. Morwick, the teachers who first encouraged me to write back at Pike High School, could have foreseen that their generosity and support would lead me to this incomparable distinction. I'm so grateful for them and for all of the teachers, friends, family, organizations, and readers who have supported my work over the years. I hope that I'll be able to continue the traditions of poetic celebration and outreach established by our previous Poets Laureate while also bringing some new community initiatives to the position. Right now, more than ever, we need poetry to remind us of the beauty that still surrounds us despite all of the seemingly unending anger and strife."

Matejka will begin his two-year term as Indiana Poet Laureate January 1, 2018 and will continue serving through December 31, 2019. He succeeds current Poet Laureate Shari Wagner.

The Indiana Arts Commission conducted a statewide call for nominations which were reviewed by a selection committee comprised of representatives from Indiana's major institutions of higher education. 

"Adrian Matejka is an exceptional poet who will be an excellent ambassador for the art of poetry in our state," said Stephanie Haines, IAC Community Development Manager, Arts Education and Accessibility Coordinator. "The Indiana Arts Commission looks forward to supporting his work connecting with communities across the state during his term as Indiana Poet Laureate."

Increasing public awareness of poetry and the power of the written and spoken work was the inspiration behind the programs enabling legislation signed into law in 2005. The Poet Laureate program encourages the development of educational programming coordinated between the Indiana Arts Commission, the Indiana Department of Education, and the Indiana Poet Laureate.

To learn more about the Poet Laureate program, visit

to learn more about Adrian Matejka, visit

(Editor note: a photo of Adrian Matejka is available upon request and must be credited to Stephen Sproll)

The Indiana Arts Commission is dedicated to the vision of the arts everywhere, every day, for everyone in Indiana.