Mathews, now a high school teacher, is on her way to fulfilling her goal now that she has won MANA's Passion for Poetry Poet's Contest. For winning the contest, MANA will publish her book Simply: A Collection of Poetry, is scheduled for release at the end of the month.
In addition to the poetry contest, MANA also sponsored The MANA Sunrise Writer's Contest. Authors Richard S. Rose and Carrie Mattern won first and second prize, respectively.
In a question-and-answer interview with MANA, Mathews says she developed a love for poetry as a young girl, thanks to her mother.
"She was the one who always had me to read when I was young," Mathews says. "She always gave me poetry books to read, especially African-American writers."
Mathews began writing poetry in high school.
"There was a literary magazine, The Calliope, that was published for the students and staff," Mathews continues. "I decided to send in some of my work senior year, and ended up winning the writing award for the senior class. From that point on, I wrote poetry whenever the mood struck me."
"I love the elements of certain poems," she says. "The diction and syntax of 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night' by Dylan Thomas gives me chills each time I hear it. The first poems that I recited and loved due to the themes are 'Incident' by Countee Cullen and 'We Real Cool' by Gwendolyn Brooks."
Her "favorite poet of all time" is Langston Hughes because his poem, "Theme for English B," was "my life in high school in the suburbs," Mathews says.
Also close to her heart is Mary Elizabeth Frey's "Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep," a poem she recited a year ago at her grandmother's funeral.
Mathews's prize-winning work, Simply: A Collection of Poetry, runs the gamut of emotion, from sadness, exhibited in a piece titled,"Darkness,"("It's the feeling of isolation/Where memories are stalled, when no one is there to help you/It's worse when the darkness fall.) to sheer happiness as in "Superhero Fun Run,"("I'm enjoying being a child again./I want to think I can fly").
The poet also deals with matters of the heart. From the sensuous,"Make Me Tingle," to "Hot Mess," which describes a married man indulging in an affair.
Becoming a published writer has motivated Mathews to write about "many different parts of my life for the world to read." For one, she says she has been inspired to write another collection of poetry.
Many writers question whether it's too risky to enter writing contests. For Mathews, it paid off. And, she admonishes her fellow writers to "take on the challenge of contests…"
Mathews adds: "It can end up being one of the best things to happen to you. Having Simply published is truly a dream come true for me, I am glad that I took that chance and entered MANA's contest."