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An electrifying letter to family, country, and self, Unearth [The Flowers] is an essential collection, relentless in its journey through stages of grief and healing while celebrating life. Each poem is an anthem for resiliency, a testament to survival, a triumph over the stigmatized terror that pervades the everyday. Thea Matthews’s first full-length collection of poetry details a mind, body, and flower at the intersection of the personal and the political.


Thea Matthews
’s debut collection, Unearth [The Flowers], provides a path to healing. Her empowering poems illustrate how survivors can find a safe place within themselves to reclaim their own identity and sexuality.



Unearth [The Flowers] sees the pastoral tradition of poetry through a contemporary feminist lens that shows Thea Matthews as a writer of urgency and authentic concern. Or as Matthews herself says, ‘where there is land / there is blood.’ This is a book of catalogue, of taxonomy, of the need to name the earth and stand on it whole.”

— JERICHO BROWN, author of The Tradition

Unearth [The Flowers] is a blooming battle cry, a feat of alchemy in which the personal and political merge in a brutal empathy. Rage and sorrow and the liberation of healing unfurl in a landscape of flowers—this is true literary witchcraft.”

— MICHELLE TEA, author of Against Memoir

Unearth [The Flowers] is a refusal of silence and a testament to survival, speaking back to the damages with a gorgeous bouquet of poems. Thea Matthews conjures poetic magic for healing and bearing witness with vibrant, lyrically rich poems.”

— TIANA CLARK, author of I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood

“Thea Matthews is a poetic herbalist, using flowers to create healing. This work is egalitarian, touching on blooms of all sorts: indigenous, imported, bolted, and cultivated. You will feel these poems in the root of your jaw, in your foot arches. Matthews is an experienced poet with a deft hand and an honest heart. These words languidly stretch, snap like a lock blade, they drape and twine and reach.  Read this work and be changed.”

— KIM SHUCK, San Francisco Poet Laureate

"Thea Matthews is the voice and protector of our generation. Brave poems like a universe that has decided to go forward with a third testament. Thea Matthews is our sacred underground; the only host of our ascension.”

— TONGO EISEN-MARTIN, author of Heaven Is All Goodbyes

“Gratitude to Thea for finding life amongst what is so often stepped on underestimated and misnamed. Honor to Thea for listening to the loudness in the small. Praise to Thea for the magnitude of this healing which is big enough for all of us.”

— ALEXIS PAULINE GUMBS, author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity


“Pick up this book, and read. Unearth [The Flowers] reveals the language of resilience, resistance, and power, and each poem demonstrates that we cultivate our own healing.”

 E. K. KEITH, author of Ordinary Villains

 “Thea Matthews’s
Unearth [The Flowers] is an exquisite debut poetry collection. Ultimately, it is universal in its breadth, rich in imagery, heartbreaking in its scope, and affirming in its ability to center resiliency of the human spirit.”


 “Thea Matthews’s poems excavate and explore family traumas and relationships. Voice and silence deliver deep beauty and urgency. This is a language of flesh, blood, soil, sorrow, and ultimately healing. Matthews’s
Unearth [The Flowers] is a bold and remarkable debut poetry collection.”

— MAW SHEIN WIN, author of Invisible Gifts: Poems

 “Matthews’s careful investigation of each flower paired with an emotional journey is ambitious poetic work which deserves careful attention—these poems are crucial for our times.”

— MK CHAVEZ, author of Mothermorphosis and Dear Animal

“When the wickedness and perfidiousness of humans and the vagaries and cruelties of fate create their wreckage in us, it seems prudent to describe the results in terms of the delicacies of flowers. This is what Thea Matthews has done in this, her intelligent and magnificent debut collection.”

— NATASHA DENNERSTEIN, author of Seahorse and coauthor of Turn and Face the Strange




Born and raised in San Francisco, CA, Thea Matthews is a poet, scholar, and activist. She writes on the complexities of humanity, grief, and resiliency. She earned her BA at UC Berkeley where she studied and taught June Jordan's program Poetry for the People. She has work published in the Atlanta Review, 

Tilde, Foglifter, The Rumpus, and others. She has work also featured in anthologies Still Here San Francisco (Foglifter Press 2019); and Love WITH Accountability: Uprooting the Roots on Child Sexual Abuse (AK Press 2019). Her first collection of poetry Unearth [The Flowers] is published by Red Light Lit Press. 


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Red Light Lit Press


Red Light Lit’s debut poetry anthology explores love, relationships, sexuality, and gender—and the corporeal space they inhabit. Love Is the Drug & Other Dark Poems features the work of 33 poets and 8 artists, each revealing the raw spectrum of the human experience that is both familiar and intriguing, comforting and thrilling, startling and validating. These diverse voices express the complexities of intimacy and identity in our modern life.


Love Is the Drug is so shimmering and personal. These little moments when we achieve, with the aid of another, some kind of sublime, and time and space sort of dissolve and we’re right where it feels we’re meant to live—those little moments are quick sparkles, these efforts to pin them down in poetry feel as sweaty and muscular, as desperate and full of passion, as the sex itself. Each one a little flare, a little death, an I was here.”

—MICHELLE TEA, author of Against Memoir and Black Wave

“Infinitely readable!”

—CARL ADAMSHICK, author of Saint Friend

“Within this book lives the profound work of pain turned into poetry, and that poetry, into power. These poems hold the best, most beautiful, brutal, sharp, and tender words of these wise and generous writers. My gratitude for their brilliance and generosity is endless. Elixir and companion, keep this book close. Let it leave your side only so that it may be shared with others.”

— REEMA ZAMAN, author of I Am Yours

“Poetry is my first love, and with this spectacular collection, I am reminded why. The aliveness I felt as I read each complex and unique piece in this book had me shaking my fist at the sky with knowing, had me tearing up, had me excited, had me heartbroken, had me undone. This book is the drug, this book is the love, this

book is life.”

—JENNIFER PASTILOFF, author of On Being Human

“In love, we are on drugs, and out of love we crave the next hit. Maybe that’s why there’s so much sugar in these pages, sweets and syrups employed as metaphor for what the Beloved withholds, the drug to set the lover free. Reader, prick up your ears! A choir of unruly, ardent, and embodied poems is singing.”

—LISA WELLS, author of The Fix

“Reader beware: These audacious, daring, often heartbreaking poems will shove love, with all its messy, unwieldy glory, in your face. This astonishing collection explores the underbelly of love from remarkably divergent perspectives. Yet each poet in some way posits the question: How can love survive in today’s world, with its high expectations and infinite distractions? These poems, and the edgy art that accompanies them, go a long way toward answering that question.”

ALEXIS RHONE FANCHER, author of Junkie Wife


 Red Light Lit is a mashup of live music, photography, storytelling, and poetry set to a live score. The performers explore love relationships, sexuality and gender


RLL Presents is a boutique events curator and presenter. Over the last 10 years, RLL has presented many shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Joshua Tree, Austin, Seattle, and Chicago. 

Upcoming Shows

Red Light Lit: Joshua Tree

Friday, May 12 at 7pm


For secret location

Red Light Lit: San Francisco

Tuesday, May 23 at 8pm

Kimberly Reyes's Book Release Party

The Lost Church

We can't wait to see you at our next event. xx



Contact us for booking an event in a city near you.

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Photo by Allyson Darling

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