Creative Writing's Airea D. Matthews Named Philadelphia's Poet Laureate

January 5, 2022
Dee Matthews
Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Airea D. Matthews (Photo Credit: Ryan Collerd)

Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Airea D. Matthews, co-director of Bryn Mawr's Creative Writing Program, has been named Philadelphia's Poet Laureate for 2022-2023.

"As Philadelphia’s sixth Poet Laureate, Airea D. Matthews embodies the collaborative and maverick spirit of Philadelphia’s literary community. Reading or listening to Airea’s work is an embodied experience, where language is a thick, sinewy, and fierce offering. Airea is a poet who is unafraid of the shadows or strangeness of questions. Her work experiments with the edges of narrative and embraces the complexities and joy at the center of a life of poetry. Her poems seem to beg the question of what a poem is, what shape it can take, and what music it can invent," reads the announcement of Matthews' appointment.

News of Matthews' appointment was reported in a number of media outlets including AL DÍA and Philadelphia NPR affiliate WHYY.

“I am honored to serve as the poet laureate and to be an ambassador for Philadelphia," Matthews told AL DÍA. "At some point in many of our lives, poetry has touched us at exactly the moment when we needed comfort, inspiration, camaraderie, or support. During my term I aim to publicly increase these serendipitous engagements with art and language.” 

Preceding Matthews as the city's Poet Laureate was Trapeta B. Mayson, M.S.S. '95. Matthews' son Wes served as the 2018-2019 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate.

Matthews' first collection of poems, Simulacra, won the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award and was published by Yale University Press. Her work has appeared in Best American Poets 2015American Poets, The Rumpus, Cordite Review (Australia), Four Way Review, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. She received the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and was awarded the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from the 2016 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is the recipient of a 2020 Pew Fellowship. 

Matthews will be teaching the course Visual Poetics this spring.