Matthew Nienow lives in Port Townsend, Washington with his wife and two sons, where he builds boats and custom wooden paddle boards. His poems have appeared in such venues as Best New Poets (2007 and 2012), New England Review and Poetry, which awarded him a 2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship. He has also received fellowships, grants and support from the National Endowment for the Arts (2011 Fellowship), the Elizabeth George Foundation, Artist Trust of Washington State, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and 4Culture of Seattle.
Born in Los Angeles, Nienow spent most of his youth in Seattle before venturing off to the midwest for college. He holds a BA in English from St. Olaf College, an MFA in Poetry from the University of Washington and an Associates degree in Traditional Small Craft from the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding.
From age 16 to 26, he led wilderness canoeing trips throughout northern Wisconsin, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. These trips ranged from three days to nearly two months in length.
Nienow is also a devoted songwriter and musician with over twenty years dedicated to the craft. He has recorded and performed solo and in bands on and off throughout that time. His main instruments are guitar, mandolin, ukulele, and vocals, though he loves tinkering with a $40 piano he picked up at Goodwill.
In 2015 he found a way to marry his passions for water, woodworking, and poetry by founding Good Story Paddle Boards, a business dedicated to producing beautifully functional watercraft: hollow wooden paddle boards that prominently feature lines of verse.
For Nienow, the thread of all these passions is in the love of making.