Irène Mathieu


Irene Mathieu two

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 am particularly interested in how identity and privilege shape our experiences, the poetics of environmentalism and social justice, the anatomy of poetry (or how form and imagery create meaning), and art making as a way to bear witness and fiercely defend our joy. I am available for panels, workshops, readings, and lectures on these topics, and I also love to talk about writing and publishing as a dual-career author.

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 2016 winner of the Bob Kaufman Book Prize and author of the poetry chapbook the galaxy of origins (dancing girl press, 2014) and book orogeny (Trembling Pillow Press, 2017). Irène has been a Fulbright scholar and a Callaloo fellow, and her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She is a poetry book reviewer for Muzzle Magazine, an editor for the humanities section of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, and a contributing author on the Global Health Hub blog. Irène 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.