Philadelphia’s new poet laureate, Airea Matthews, is an assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College. With her new role, she hopes to bring poetry deeper into the lives of Philadelphians, writes Jad Sleiman for WHYY.
As a college student, Matthews majored in economics, and then she spent a decade working in corporate America after graduating.
Following that, she moved to working for nonprofits. But during this time, Matthews said it was a time when pursuing her interest in writing poetry felt impossible for her.
“I didn’t know that it was a possibility until I got a little bit older, probably toward my early thirties when I started kind of investigating what’s out there,” Airea Matthews said. “If you really love art and if you know that that’s actually what you want to do with the rest of your life, how does one do that?”
After several open mics and slam poetry sessions, Matthews went and got her master’s degree in fine arts. Now she’s the head of the poetry department at Bryn Mawr.
Matthews hopes to bring poetry into the public that will help touch the average Philadelphian more. For her, that means public exhibits.
“I think poets just especially underestimate the power of the saying, and how it can touch someone, and it can make someone feel or see things differently,” she said. “And so I’m trying to find ways to turn these text-based sayings into public exhibits.”
Read more about Airea D. Matthews at WHYY.