For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development

Airea D. Matthews Named 2022-2023 Poet Laureate of the City of Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, January 4, 2022—The Free Library of Philadelphia is pleased to announce the 2022–2023 Philadelphia Poet Laureate: Airea D. Matthews, an award winning poet and professor. Matthews was selected from a competitive pool of applicants by the Poet Laureate Governing Committee and will serve in the role for two years. She will succeed Trapeta B. Mayson, who has served as Poet Laureate since 2020.

“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,” Matthews said.

Airea D. Matthews’ first collection of poems is the critically acclaimed Simulacra, which received the prestigious 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. 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. She is an assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College where she directs the poetry program. Her son, Wes Matthews, served as the 2018-2019 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate.

“The field of community-engaged and loving poets is thick in Philly, and we received more than a dozen compelling applications for the post of 2022-23 poet laureate. Airea represents the best of this community. With an impressive record of nurturing literary community in Philly and beyond, Airea will bring wisdom and care to her work as laureate,” said Yolanda Wisher, former Philadelphia Poet Laureate and Co-Chair of the Poet Laureate Governing Committee.

The City of Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate program moved under the auspices of the Free Library in the fall of 2017. The Poet Laureate is a civic position that recognizes an exceptional poet who also demonstrates a commitment to the power of poetry to engage and inspire people throughout Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. In addition to the Poet Laureate position, the program also supports a Youth Poet Laureate each year—an honor that comes with an educational scholarship. The Poet Laureate mentors the Youth Poet Laureate, who represents the voice of Philadelphia’s young poets. Both poets engage with Philadelphia citizens through readings, events, and a special project of their choosing.

The Poet Laureate Governing Committee is comprised of poets, educators, and arts and culture organization professionals. In addition to Co-Chairs Wisher and Jennifer Chang, Chief of the Central Public Services Division of Parkway Central Library, committee members include Trapeta Mayson, 2020-2021 Poet Laureate; Cydney Brown, 2020 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate; Al Filreis, Faculty Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House; Alex Bender, Library Coordinator, Central Public Services Division at the Free Library, Kris Langlais, Library Supervisor 1, Field Teen Center at the Free Library, Adam Feldman Library Coordinator, Central Public Services Division at the Free Library; Kai Davis, poet, performer, teaching artist, poetry editor for Apiary magazine, and organizer/artistic director for The Pigeon Presents: The Philadelphia Poetry Slam; Julia Terry, visual artist, educator, facilitator, and Education Program Officer at the Pennsylvania Humanitie Councils; and Jeannine Cook, writer, educator, strategist, and founder and shopkeeper of Harriett’s Bookshop. 

For more information on the Poet Laureate program, visit Learn more about Airea at her website,


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850