Farid Matuk Named 2024 USA Fellow for Poetry

Jan. 23, 2024
Black and white photo of Farid Matuk and graphic for USA Fellows award

Credit: Roberto Guerra

Farid Matuk, associate professor of English at the University of Arizona, was recently named a 2024 USA Fellow, by United States Artists.

The USA Fellowships offer artists $50,000 in unrestricted funds and recipients also gain access to professional services. Matuk joins a class of 50 fellow awardees who are honored for their rich contributions to the cultural fabric of the country. USA Fellows are selected based on their groundbreaking artistic visions, unique perspectives within their fields, and evident potential for the award to make a significant impact in their practices and lives.

Matuk’s poem, “Crease” draws partially from their time spent as a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. In their conversation with The Paris Review on dissecting the writing process behind “Crease,” Matuk discussed the inspiration behind this piece.

“The images and ideas in the poem started long ago, in college, when I met a brilliant artist named Jeannie Simms. Around that time, they were doing a series of photograms, images made by laying an object on photographic paper and exposing it to light, called Interiors: Little Death. Jeannie had said their process was “to make love” to photographic paper. The results are gorgeous ruins, pieces of photographic paper bearing no image but deeply creased and distressed by Jeannie’s touch. I’ve never stopped thinking about the poetics of that process—the intersection of abstraction and embodied desire it involves, the way it confounds the photograph’s habit of delivering bodies as spectacle.”

Born in Lima, Peru to a Peruvian father and Syrian mother, and preemptively kidnapped to escape their father’s violence, Farid Matuk has lived in the U.S. since the age of six as an undocumented person, then a “legal” resident, and eventually as a “naturalized” citizen. Matuk is the author of the poetry collections This Isa Nice Neighborhood and The Real Horse. Their poems have appeared in BOMBThe Brooklyn RailLana TurnerThe Paris Review, and Poetry, among others.

In 2023, Matuk's book arts project, Redolent, made in collaboration with visual artist Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez, was awarded the Anna Rabinowitz Prize by the Poetry Society of America

Spanning multiple generations of creative practitioners, the 2024 USA Fellows are dedicated to their communities and committed to building upon shared legacies through cultural stewardship, multifaceted storytelling, and continued artistic innovation. 

"Every time we recognize a poet, we’re really recognizing a whole network of hero-peers and influences and teachers,” said Matuk. “We’re more than inspired by one another, we’re working shoulder-to-shoulder, writing a single trans-generational, trans-lingual poem that’s bigger than any one of us. Let this award honor that collective.”