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Creative Writing's Airea D. Matthews Pens an Ode to Philly's Rec Centers

August 2, 2023
Dee Matthews
Associate Professor of Creative Writing Airea D. Matthews

Co-director of Bryn Mawr's Creative Writing Program Airea D. Matthews writes an ode to Philadelphia’s rec centers in a visual essay for the Aug 2 New York Times. Her prose is paired with the images of photographer Adrian Eli René. 

From the article:

"These places of refuge, and the people who run them, do work beyond the obvious social good. At the rec, children can exercise creative agency, often deciding on their own how to use the space. The centers exist outside the prescriptive obligations, duties and expectations of schools or churches. They give children a place to work through, as my own children did, their triumphs and losses; innocence, immaturity and growth are valued. There, the children know they are free."


Matthews is the poet laureate of Philadelphia.

Her first collection of poems, Simulacra, received the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award (Yale University Press, 2017).

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.

Matthews's newest work concerns class and poverty. 

Creative Writing