Carl Phillips has chosen our friend Airea D. Matthews’s manuscript, simulacra, for this year’s prize, and we’re celebrating by reading some of her amazing poetry. And swooning. And crying tears of joy (I speak for myself and probably you too, if you follow my advice and read Airea D. Matthews‘s glorious words.)
Airea D. Matthews is a 2015 Kresge Literary Arts Fellow. She is currently the Assistant Director of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she earned her MFA, and the Executive Editor of The Offing, a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2015, edited by Sherman Alexie, American Poet, Four Way Review, The Missouri Review, The Baffler, Callaloo, Indiana Review, WSQ and elsewhere. Matthews’ fiction and essays have appeared in SLAB, Michigan Quarterly Review and Vida: Her Kind. Her performance work has been featured at the Cannes Lions Festival, PBS’ RoadTrip Nation and NPR. A Cave Canem and Callaloo fellow, Matthews lives in Detroit with her husband and their four children. Follow her on Twitter @aireadee.
Here’s her poem “If My Late Grandmother Were Gertrude Stein.”
The poem was chosen for The 2015 Best American Poetry Anthology. When I heard her read it aloud for the first time, I’d moved to Michigan a couple of weeks prior, and knew Dee only as an acquaintance, a member of my grad school cohort, a friendly face. Listening to her words that night years ago, my heart raced; I wanted to know her. I’m so grateful, that over the next few years, I became close to the poet and to the work, my admiration for her expanding all the time. And here she is, texting as Anne Sexton, and tweeting as the Greek Pantheon.
She often signs her emails with the words “TO THE WORK!”
And that’s what it’s all about, right?
To your beautiful work, Airea D., and this most deserved prize!
Literati loves you, Dee!
p.s. Airea D. Matthews will be giving a craft talk on June 18th, 2016, in Ann Arbor, as part of the Ann Arbor Book Festival’s 2016 Writers’ Conference. We’ll be selling books in the back and taking notes on her magic.