Airea D. Matthews

Acclaimed Poet & Educator
Philadelphia Poet Laureate

Readings &
Lecture Topics
  • An Evening with Airea D. Matthews

Biography

“Matthews’s writing is bold, innovative and complex.” —Washington Post

Airea D. Matthews’ first collection of poems is the critically acclaimed Simulacra, which received the prestigious 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. The collection explores the topics of longing and desire with power, insight, and intense emotion. New Yorker critic Dan Chiasson describes Matthews’s experimental forms as, “Fugues, text messages to the dead, imagined outtakes from Wittgenstein, tart mini-operas, fairy tales: Matthews is virtuosic, frantic, and darkly, very darkly, funny.” Matthews is also the author of Bread and Circus (Simon and Schuster), 2023), a memoir-in-verse that combines poetry, prose, and imagery to explore the realities of economic necessity, marginal poverty, and commodification, through a personal lens.

For her writing, Matthews earned a 2020 Pew Fellowship as well as the 2017 Margaret Walker For My People award. In 2016, she received both the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Her work has appeared in Callaloo, Gulf Coast, Best American Poets, American Poet, The Rumpus, Tin House, Los Angeles Review of Books, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. A Cave Canem, Callaloo, and Kresge Literary Arts Fellow, Matthews is a founding member of the transdisciplinary art studio The Teeth Factory.

Matthews holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania as well as an M.F.A. from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program and an M.P.A. from the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, both at the University of Michigan. In 2022, she was named Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate. She is an assistant professor and directs the poetry program at Bryn Mawr College, where she was presented the Lindback Distinguished Teaching award.

Short Bio

Airea D. Matthews’ first collection of poems is the critically acclaimed Simulacra, which received the prestigious 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. Matthews is also the author of Bread and Circus (Simon and Schuster, 2023), a memoir-in-verse that combines poetry, prose, and imagery to explore the realities of economic necessity, marginal poverty, and commodification, through a personal lens. Matthews received a 2020 Pew Fellowship, a 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and was awarded the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from the 2016 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Matthews earned her MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. In 2022, she was named Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate. She is an assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College where she directs the poetry program.

Visit Author Website

Videos

Publications

Articles & Audio

Selected Writings

Download Assets

Let’s get started

If you’re interested in this speaker, complete this form to begin the conversation.