Philly finds its 2022-23 Poet Laureate in Airea D. Matthews
For the 2022-2023 season, Matthews will serve alongside Andre’a Rhoads, who was named Youth Poet Laureate over the Summer of 2021.
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Award-winning poet and professor Airea D. Matthews has been selected by the Poet Laureate Governing Committee to serve as Poet Laureate of the City of Philadelphia between 2022-2023.
Matthews received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.F.A. from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program, and an M.P.A. from the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy.
The poet is a founding member of The Teeth Factory, a transdisciplinary art studio, and is the recipient of numerous awards and acknowledgments.
The new Poet Laureate’s work has appeared in multiple publications. Simulacra — Matthews’ first poetry collection — was awarded the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award.
“I am honored to serve as the poet laureate and to be an ambassador for Philadelphia. 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,” said Matthews.
Matthews will succeed Trapeta B. Mayson, who served the role with grace since 2020.
Mayson wrapped up her term as Philly’s Poet Laureate with some significant projects, namely a World Kindness Day poem, and her work on Kensington Healing Verse’ recently-unveiled light art piece, among others.
Matthews will now join Andre’a Rhoads, who was named the city’s Youth Poet Laureate over the Summer of 2021.
Rhoads is a junior at Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls in North Philadelphia.
She has been writing since elementary school, and has been inspired by Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and other Harlem Renaissance poets.
She is also a Cradles to Crayons volunteer, and a youth mentor for her church and past middle school.
The City of Philadelphia Poet Laureate Program is administered by the Free Library of Philadelphia and organized by the Poet Laureate Governing Committee.
The Poet Laureate Governing Committee is composed of Philly-based poets, arts-organization professionals, and educators.
The Poet Laureate role is a civic position focused on recognizing poetry’s power in community engagement and inspiration of residents. The first poet to serve the role was literary legend Sonia Sanchez.