The City of Philadelphia Poet Laureate program is administered by the Free Library of Philadelphia and guided by a governing committee composed of poets, educators, and arts-organization professionals from around the city.

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 two-year Poet Laureate position, the program also supports a new Youth Poet Laureate each year. 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.

2022-2023 Philadelphia Poet Laureate

Airea D. Matthews

Airea D. Matthews

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."

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. She is an assistant professor and directs the poetry program at Bryn Mawr College, where she was presented the Lindback Distinguished Teaching award.

2022-2023 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate

Telicia Darius

Telicia Darius

Photo credit: Ryan Brandenberg

Telicia Darius is a senior at Hardy Williams Mastery Charter School in a dual enrollment program at Community College of Philadelphia. Telicia has participated in the Young Writer's Workshop at Bard College and the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program. Telicia writes and performs in both English and French and is a member of the Hardy Williams Philly Slam League team.

Telicia loves a good challenge and believes in the words of poetry. On poetry and the Poet Laureate position, Telicia says "Poetry is the writer's ink and the laureate is the platform, giving the inaudible text a chance to speak."

For more information, including requests for appearances by the Philadelphia Poet Laureate or Youth Poet Laureate, contact poetlaureate@freelibrary.org. Please note that we may not be able to attend all requests out of respect for the time of the two poets.