Philadelphia's poet laureate launches program to help connect local writers

Airea D. Matthews is using her grant money towards the program
Airea D. Matthews
Photo credit Airea D. Matthews

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) – There's a push to get more Philadelphians interested in poetry from the city’s poet laureate, Airea D. Matthews.

Matthews is an associate professor of creative writing and English at Bryn Mawr College, and she has recently been awarded $50,000 from the Academy of American Poets. She’s using it to help others find their poetic voice in the city.

“It feels like a nod, honestly.” Matthews said. “A generous nod in the direction of the work I’m hoping to do.”

She’s using part of that money to launch a website that establishes a network for writers.

“My first project is one that many cities I hope one day will replicate,” said Matthews. “I would like to create a Philadelphia Speaker’s Bureau which serves to connect working writers to opportunities.”

The money will also be used to bring poets' voices to billboards, to help inspire and direct people to their free library.

“The revision project provides a platform for using billboards and digital projection to showcase excerpts of poetry from writers with ties to those areas,” said Matthews.

That website is expected to launch in November, and the billboards are scheduled to go up early next year.