As technology changes the way we communicate, Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature Adrian Matejka believes one of the oldest forms of communication is on the verge of a renaissance.
Matejka is traveling across the country holding faculty lectures and student workshops preaching the power of poetry at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, thanks to the 2010 William and Margaret Going Endowed Professorship Award. Funded by former SIUE Professor of Literature Dr. William Going before he passed away in 2008, the endowed professorship helps offset the cost of Adrian’s travels as he reaches out to students at universities unable to afford guest lecturers.
Donations to SIUE can create and sustain endowed professorships, which help the University attract and retain nationally recognized faculty like Adrian, an award-winning poet who’s had two collections of his poetry published.
Many young people may consider poetry stodgy and out of style, but Adrian, who has written prose about contemporary topics like the hip-hop group Public Enemy and the movie “The Karate Kid,” works hard to show students that it’s an ideal form of communication for a generation that does most of its writing via text messages and social networks.
“Poetry is really a perfect medium for education right now,” he said. “E-mails, texts and tweets rely on the same concise writing style as poetry. You can’t write a novel in 140 characters, but you can start a poem. When you teach students about poetry and creative writing, it is a lot easier to contextualize with things that are familiar to them.”
Poetry is a true labor of love for Adrian who is using his travels to not only open the world of rhythm and meter to students across the country, but to open them to the world of SIUE as well.
“It gets the name of SIUE out to new places and people. I genuinely see myself as a recruiter for the University,” Adrian said “My work is an opportunity to put a good face on this wonderful University. When I travel, I hope people who see and hear me think, ‘That’s what SIUE is like.’”