Creative Writing Instructor Receives National, Regional Fellowships

Department of English faculty member Ted Mathys has received two major external fellowships for poetry writing.

Ted Mathys is in his third year at SLU and is a full-time instructor who teaches creative writing workshops in poetry, short fiction and screenwriting, among other courses.

Ted Mathys is in his third year at SLU and is a full-time instructor who teaches creative writing workshops in poetry, short fiction and screenwriting, among other courses.

On Dec. 13, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) named Mathys a recipient of an FY2017 Fellowship in Creative Writing. The $25,000 fellowship is awarded to poets across the country through a nationwide competition. This year, Mathys was among 37 recipients selected from an application pool of more than 1,800 actively publishing poets. The fellowship is described as the NEA’s "most direct investment in American creativity,” with the goal of allowing writers the time and means to write and produce new work.

Mathys has also been awarded a 2016 St. Louis Regional Arts Commission (RAC) Artist Fellowship. This $20,000 juried award is given to 10 St. Louis artists each year across all visual, performing and literary disciplines. This fellowship program is unique and among the few multi-disciplinary fellowship programs of its kind in the United States. It allows for the development of St. Louis artists' careers with an investment to provide the necessary time to reflect, explore and experiment in their craft.

I'm increasingly convinced that St. Louis is one of the best places in the country to be a poet."

Ted Mathys

Both fellowship programs utilize a review panel of experts in the field to evaluate applications on their merits. The primary criteria are artistic excellence and promise. For each, Mathys submitted a group of poems along with an artist's statement outlining the contours of the poetry collection he is currently working on. He intends to use the fellowships to complete this new book of poems.

"I'm thrilled and humbled to have received these fellowships, and I'm obviously excited about the headway they will enable me to make on a new collection of poems,” Mathys said. “My poetry has benefited tremendously in recent years from the intellectual rigor, creative energy and support of the faculty in SLU's Department of English. I'm also increasingly convinced that St. Louis is one of the best places in the country to be a poet. The city's rich literary history is palpable; our arts institutions are well funded; and the community of artists here is scrappy, supportive and full of integrity. I find it all very generative." 

Much of Mathys’ work is broadly concerned with contemporary environmental threats. His book The Spoils draws on his professional experience and training in environmental policy and is anchored by a cycle of poems that explore how feelings of awe and beauty survive and mutate in post-pastoral landscapes. A recently published chapbook,Woodland Pattern, meditates on camouflage as a military technology that was developed over the course of the 20th century through unlikely collaborations between naturalists, avant-garde painters and military planners.

His new book, Shale Plays, for which these fellowships were awarded, is a cycle of sonnets that explore hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in contemporary America. While public opinion on the practice is polarized, he says he is less interested in policy debates than in the temporal and spiritual dimensions of fracking, and how fracking upsets our notions of geologic time.

Read a selection of Mathys’ poems on his website 

Mathys is in his third year at SLU and is a full-time instructor. He teaches creative writing workshops in poetry, short fiction and screenwriting, among other courses. He also helps students find outlets for creative writing beyond the classroom, whether it's getting involved in SLU's undergraduate literary magazine, applying for creative writing awards and internships with literary institutions or attending readings by nationally renowned authors on campus.