Dr. Irène Mathieu


Irene Mathieu two

As a poet and pediatrician, I am interested in the intersection between science and the arts. I believe that doctors should study poetry, artists should learn about climate change, and that our collective healing is interdisciplinary. I have always been interested in stories, especially those that don’t make it into dominant narratives, and the therapeutic potential of listening to and telling these stories. In both my careers I am particularly invested in exploring diverse methodologies. How might the ways in which we tell our (hi)stories help us in the pursuit of a more just and peaceful world?

It’s apt that one of the central images of orogeny is that of Pangaea because Irène Mathieu broke me, over & over & over & infinite. Orogeny takes its reader across many different histories–of family, of continents, of violences, of sciences, of dirts, of fears, of soils, of loves–and every one is bigger than the last. It asks its reader, “what do I deserve?” and while the reader stares at it in amazement it answers “everything inside the moon.” In an existence as fractured as this one, orogeny is not just the myth that we need; it’s the then (& now & future) that we deserve. — Mark Cugini, author of I’m Just Happy to Be Here, managing books editor, Big Lucks Books

Irène Mathieu is a pediatrician, writer, and public health researcher who has lived and worked in the United States, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Peru, and elsewhere.

She is the winner of the Bob Kaufman Book Prize and Yemassee Journal‘s Poetry Prize, and author of the book orogeny (Trembling Pillow Press, 2017) and poetry chapbook the galaxy of origins (dancing girl press & studio, 2014). Irène has received fellowships from the Fulbright Program and the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. She is a poetry book reviewer for Muzzle Magazine, an editor for the Journal of General Internal Medicine‘s humanities section, and a contributing author on the Global Health Hub blog. 

Irène is interested in social determinants of health, global public health, community-engaged research, and medical education. She holds a BA in International Relations from the College of William & Mary and a MD from Vanderbilt University.

More titles by Irène Mathieu


July 4th

the holiday is on the street:
a hot strip of chicken
split on the sidewalk,
sideways spit, and
the crush of
emptied soda cups.

more than a hundred
degrees today in D.C.,
the river churning
black like ash,
the fire hydrants’
projectile vomit,
the cigarettes making
air smell salty.

one day we might die
in a flood of grease,
every burger joint bursting
a deluge of hot fat,
this country drowning,
a boiling mess of
unnatural oil.