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Airea D. Matthews

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. Matthews is the author of Bread and Circus (Scribner Books, 2023) and Simulacra (Yale University Press, 2017), selected by Carl Phillips as the winner of the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets.

A Cave Canem Fellow and a Kresge Literary Arts Fellow, Matthews is the recipient of a 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 directs 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 serves as the 2022–23 Philadelphia poet laureate. In 2022, Matthews received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship

Airea D. Matthews
Photo credit: Brooke Sientinsons
Laureate Project
Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, PA

Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, PA

In 2022, Airea D. Matthews was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Matthews will establish a Philadelphia speaker’s bureau that identifies Philadelphia-area writers and matches them with potential reading opportunities. The model of the speaker’s bureau is equity-based and all published writers can participate. The system for matching will be online and accessible to all potential contractors. Mathews’s second project, “Re/Vision,” a public/private collaboration between Lamar Advertising, Philadelphia Contemporary, and the Free Library of Philadelphia, will use billboards and digital projection to showcase excerpts of poetry from established writers with ties to the areas in Philadelphia that have been greatly impacted by violence. For twelve months, beginning in December of 2022, the messages will rotate monthly across the city and will direct people to visit local branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia. The goal for these engagements with poetry is to offer moments of contemplation and to increase poetry readership among a new generation.