Adrian Matejka will be first Black editor of Poetry magazine

Apr 26, 2022, 6:01 AM | Updated: 3:32 pm
This undated image shows Adrian Matejka, an educator, former state laureate of Indiana and prize-wi...

This undated image shows Adrian Matejka, an educator, former state laureate of Indiana and prize-winning poet who was named editor of Poetry magazine. (Polina Osherov via AP)

(Polina Osherov via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Poetry magazine, one of the country’s oldest and most prominent literary publications, will for the first time have a Black editor. Adrian Matejka, an educator, former state laureate of Indiana and prize-winning poet, begins his new job May 16.

“I couldn’t be more humbled or excited to be the new editor of Poetry,” Matejka, 50, said in a statement. “The 19-year-old version of me, thumbing through the magazine’s pages with wonder, would have never imagined that he would one day be part of such a vital literary institution.”

Matejka, whose 2013 collection “The Big Smoke” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, added that he was “committed to re-imagining Poetry not only as a venue for poetics, but more importantly, as one that is in service of poets and treats writers as the gifts that they are.”

Matejka’s hiring was announced Tuesday by the Poetry Foundation, a Chicago-based organization that oversees Poetry. The foundation was established in 2003 after Ruth Lilly, an heir to the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical fortune, donated $100 million to the magazine. Poetry, founded in 1912, has published T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, John Ashbery and many other leading writers. Several Matejka poems have run in the magazine.

“As an accomplished poet, educator, and past poet laureate, Adrian brings invaluable talent and experience. We look forward to his leadership and collaboration with the team to share new poets and poetry with the world,” Michelle T. Boone, who in 2021 became the foundation’s first Black president, said in a statement.

Matejka, who grew up in Indianapolis, is also the author of the poetry collections “The Devil’s Garden,” “Map to the Stars” and “Somebody Else Sold the World” and an upcoming graphic novel, “Last On His Feet.” In what he calls “strange serendipity,” he is the Ruth Lilly Professor of Poetry at Indiana University Bloomington.

The president of Cave Canem, a leading supporter of Black poets, praised Tuesday’s announcement. Tyehimba Jess said in a statement that “Adrian’s vision of building literary community through excellence and diversity in publication is a critical step forward for Poetry. Through his work on the page and his activism as poet laureate of Indiana, Adrian has a track record of service to history and the fullness of each reader and poet’s humanity.”

Like numerous literary institutions, the Poetry Foundation has been addressing criticisms over diversity and social awareness. Two years ago, in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, the president and board chairman resigned amid criticism over a foundation statement expressing “solidarity with the Black community” and declaring faith in “the strength and power of poetry to uplift in times of despair.”

More than 1,500 poets, subscribers and teachers among others published an open letter denouncing the statement as vague and dispassionate. The letter’s endorsers called on the foundation and Poetry magazine, which support and organize a wide range of workshops, grants and awards, to provide “a significantly greater allocation of financial resources toward work which is explicitly anti-racist in nature and, specifically, fighting to protect and enrich Black lives, in and outside of Chicago.”

The foundation responded with “An Open Letter of Commitment to Our Community,” in which it acknowledged its predominantly white leadership and vowed to “better serve the poets who entrust us with their work, creative or otherwise, and serve audiences who find solace, joy, insight, catalysts for change, and more in poetry.”

Poetry has not had a permanent editor since the summer of 2020, when Don Share resigned after the magazine was criticized for publishing a poem which Share himself described as “insidious” and “particularly oppressive to Black, Pacific Islander, and Asian people.” The foundation called his departure part of the “ongoing changes and conversations” outlined in its open letter.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Republican Gov. Brian Kemp waves to supporters during an election night watch party, May 24,...
Associated Press

Ousters, upsets halfway through 2022 primary election season

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — More than halfway through a tumultuous primary season, voters have rendered verdicts in a number of contests, many of which featured candidates arguing they best represented a continuation of policies favored by former President Donald Trump. While not on the ballot himself, Trump has played a role in several races, with […]
8 hours ago
Yellow tape marks bullet holes on a tree and a portrait and flowers create a makeshift memorial on ...
Associated Press

US: Shot that killed journalist likely fired from Israelis

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials have concluded that gunfire from Israeli positions likely killed Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh but that there was “no reason to believe” her shooting was intentional, the State Department said Monday. The finding, in a statement from State Department spokesman Ned Price, came after what the U.S. said was inconclusive […]
8 hours ago
A shoe was abandoned in front of the shopping centre Fields, closed for at least a week after Sunda...
Associated Press

Motive likely not terror-related in ‘brutal’ Danish shooting

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A gunman who killed three people when he opened fire in a crowded shopping mall acted alone and apparently selected his victims at random, Danish police said Monday, all but ruling out that the attack was an “act of terrorism.” Authorities filed preliminary charges of murder and attempted murder against a […]
8 hours ago
FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2019, photo, a guard stands in the intake area at the Adelanto ICE Processi...
Associated Press

Immigration detention facility near empty in California

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A sprawling, privately run detention center in the wind-swept California desert town of Adelanto could house nearly 2,000 migrants facing the prospect of deportation. These days, though, it’s nearly empty. The Adelanto facility is an extreme example of how the U.S. government’s use of guaranteed minimum payments in contracts with private […]
8 hours ago
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, front, arrives for the 'Concerted Action', a meeting of representati...
Associated Press

German leader gathers employers, unions to tackle inflation

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz gathered top employer and labor union representatives at his Berlin office on Monday to seek ways of addressing the impact of rising prices while preventing a spiral of inflation in Europe’s biggest economy. The government billed Monday’s meeting as the first in a series aimed at finding a […]
8 hours ago
Chari Baker, front, gestures as she confronts Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin at a restaurant Wednesda...
Associated Press

Virginia law stops early inmate releases, angering families

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Christopher Ford was a baby when his father was sentenced to 28 years in prison for participating in a murder-for-hire scheme that led to the killings of two people at a car dealership. After serving 25 years, prison officials told Robert Glenn Ford he would be released in July under a […]
8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Adrian Matejka will be first Black editor of Poetry magazine