Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Adrian Matejka reading in Indianapolis

Adrian Matejka was in his bag this past Saturday.  

I caught him giving the closing plenary at the National Humanities Conference in Indianapolis. There were hundreds of people in the room, and if you were there, you would've thought Matejka was conversing directly with you.

He's a talented, accomplished poet, sure. But he's also just a compelling conversationalist.  

These days, he's widely known as the editor of Poetry magazine. The duties of that day job keep him away from doing more of his own writing. So it was a treat to catch him presenting a few poems. Even better, he'd read a couple of poems, and then saxophonist Rob Dixon and his trio would play a tune. 

Then, Matejka read a couple more poems followed by Dixon and Co. playing. And to close, the trio played a cover of Wes Montgomery's "Four on Six," while Matejka read a poem about jazz -- and poetry and culture and history and.....you get the picture.

On top of the theme of the Montgomery song, Matejka kept returning to this phrase, "jazz is jazz is jazz is jazz is." For quite some time now, whenever I listen to that tune, I'll hear Matejka uttering those words. 

I've followed Matejka's reading for nearly a decade-and-a-half at this point, yet his approach to that closing poem was something I hadn't previously seen from him. Maybe it's that I hadn't seen him perform with a jazz trio. But too, I hadn't play with music and wording like that.   

Still, beyond or outside of the actual poems, he's facility and ease conversing about ideas, memories, and the poems with the audience were really crucial.  


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