Airea D. Matthews

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Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, 2022–2023

Airea D. Matthews received a BA in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program and an MPA from the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Bread and Circus (Scribner Books, 2023), a finalist for the 2023 Los Angeles Times Book Award, and Simulacra (Yale University Press, 2017), selected by Carl Phillips as the winner of the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets.

New Yorker critic Dan Chiasson describes Matthews’s experimental forms as “[f]ugues, text messages to the dead, imagined outtakes from [Ludwig] Wittgenstein, tart mini-operas, fairy tales: Matthews is virtuosic, frantic, and darkly, very darkly, funny.”

A Cave Canem Fellow and a Kresge Literary Arts Fellow, Matthews is also the recipient of a 2024 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2020 Pew Fellowship, the 2017 Margaret Walker For My People Award, the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. 

Matthews is an associate professor and codirector of the poetry program at Bryn Mawr College, where she was presented the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award. In partnership with Real Estate Interests LLC, she is developing a literary arts commune in Sicily. She was the 2022–23 Philadelphia poet laureate. In 2022, Matthews received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship