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Former Indiana poet laureate discusses Gorman's Super Bowl poetry

Even before Amanda Gorman wowed audiences at President Joe Biden's Inauguration, poetry has been on the rise.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. β€” Poetry is seeing a surge in popularity, even before Amanda Gorman wowed audiences at President Joe Biden's inauguration.

Now, she's reciting at the Super Bowl.    

The National Endowment for the Arts reports poetry reading by young people ages 18 to 24 has doubled since 2012.

Indiana University Prof. Adrian Matejka is a former poet laureate for Indiana and a highly-acclaimed author. He discussed the surging renaissance for poetry with 13News anchor Anne Marie Tiernon.

Anne Marie Tiernon: You must be so excited about this opportunity for Amanda Gorman this weekend.

Prof. Adrian Matejka: It was a wonderful opportunity. I can't express to you how great it is to see poetry in the space in which we wouldn't really think about poetry and football together in the same conversation.

Anne Marie Tiernon: What do you think it says about a broader impact for arts and humanities, in our culture with her rising star and prominence and opportunity to be a part of this world stage Sunday afternoon?

Prof. Adrian Matejka: I'm still reeling about her performance during the inaugural celebration. I mean, she read the whole week long. I was so pleased, so impressed by this...this poet's voice, and, of course, the words as well. So, I think I was alone in that, and it seems to be something that has reverberated into the bigger community and a bigger conversation. The fact that a week later, they announced that she was going to be part of the Super Bowl ceremony, that shows the power of poetry, and especially the power of the work she's doing.

Anne Marie Tiernon: And you are a former poet laureate for the state of Indiana, so you you run in these circles. You were saying how remarkable it is that Amanda Gorman is just 22 years old and to have this distinction.

Prof. Adrian Matejka:  So, you know, I can't help but think about what a knucklehead I was when I was 22 years old. Seeing this woman, and that poise and that awareness, under command of language, was such a joy. And it's a reminder also the power of nature. It's not based on age. It's not based necessarily on race or gender. It uplifts, and it lifts us.

Anne Marie Tiernon:  And you are quite an accomplished poet yourself with many published works and honors and titles. I was reading down your list of all the things. What are you trying to accomplish? When you create poetry, what is the message that you are trying to convey when you write?

Prof. Adrian Matejka:  The first thing that I think about when I think about writing a poem is how am I going to communicate this idea to somebody else. I mean it's a little bit redundant, but I think of poetry as a really excellent letter. I'm going to write this poem, and it's going to sound better than a regular Letterman. I hope that you learned everything I was feeling and that everything I was thinking about, a little bit like Emily Dickinson, in her attic, reading poems to her friends.

Anne Marie Tiernon: And what is it that you hope that we see with Amanda Gorman before the game?

Prof. Adrian Matejka: Open, after everybody picks themselves up off of the floor, one of her books. And then if they don't buy one of her books, they buy somebody else's poetry book. Poetry works the same way as other artists do. All it takes is you finding the right gateway. And once you found that gateway and walk through it, then you can find a whole new world of art and ideas waiting.